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Langford v. Nevada Supreme Court

United States District Court, D. Nevada

November 1, 2017

Justin Langford, Petitioner
v.
Nevada Supreme Court, Respondent

          ORDER DISMISSING CASE

          JENNIFER A. DORSEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Pro se petitioner and High Desert State Prison inmate Justin Langford petitions for a writ of mandamus/prohibition under NRS §§ 34.150-34.320 and seeks to have this federal district court overturn the Nevada Supreme Court's decision affirming his judgment of conviction. Langford's petition is riddled with defects.

         First, Langford did not pay the filing fee, and he did not file an application to proceed in forma pauperis. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a), the filing fee for “any civil action, suit or proceeding . . . whether by original process, removal or otherwise, ” except for an application for a writ of habeas corpus, is $350.00, to which is added a $50.00 administrative fee. Langford did not file an application for a writ of habeas corpus in this action; he filed a petition for a writ of mandamus or prohibition. The filing fee therefore is $400.00. The Prisoner Litigation Reform Act[1] allows the court, on application, to permit Langford to pay the $400.00 fee in installments even if he currently is not able to pay the entire fee. But Langford did not pay the fee or file an application to proceed in forma pauperis to pay the fee in installments, so this action has been improperly commenced.

         Second, this federal court does not have jurisdiction over an action brought against the Supreme Court of Nevada. Langford may not proceed directly against the State of Nevada or an arm of the State-such as a state supreme court-in federal court due to the state sovereign immunity under the Eleventh Amendment.[2] State sovereign immunity bars an action against the State or an arm of the State in federal court regardless of the relief sought.[3]

         Third, a federal district court does not have appellate jurisdiction over a state court, whether by direct appeal, mandamus, prohibition, and/or an exercise of supervisory jurisdiction.[4] If Langford wishes to seek collateral review in federal court of his conviction, he must timely file a petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

         Fourth, to the extent that petitioner challenges his judgment of conviction other than through a habeas petition, his civil action is barred under Heck v. Humphrey.[5] An inmate may not pursue claims that necessarily challenge the validity of a conviction in a civil action other than a federal habeas action.[6]

         And fifth, the petition fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted under federal law. Nevada state statutes do not apply to determine the mandamus authority of a federal district court.

         Given the multiple, substantial defects presented, this improperly commenced action will be dismissed without prejudice. It appears that the one-year limitation period for a federal habeas petition could have began to run, at the very earliest, on September 25, 2017.[7] Accordingly, the mere dismissal of this action will not result in a later federal habeas petition being untimely or otherwise result in substantial prejudice, because substantial time remains in the federal limitation period at the time of this dismissal for petitioner to file a timely federal petition.

         Accordingly, IT HEREBY IS ORDERED that this action is DISMISSED. If Langford wants to try again and seek post-conviction relief in federal district court, he may do so in a petition for a writ of habeas corpus after he exhausts all administrative remedies.

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that a certificate of appealability is DENIED, as reasonable jurists would not find the dismissal of this improperly-commenced action without prejudice to be debatable or wrong.

         The Clerk of Court is directed to SEND to Langford two copies of a noncapital § 2254 form along with one copy each of the instructions for the form and Langford's original petition in this matter.[8]

         The Clerk of Court is directed to CLOSE THIS CASE.

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