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Rider v. Esmeralda County Sheriff

United States District Court, D. Nevada

April 23, 2019




         Petitioner Justin Chanse Rider filed a pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus by a pretrial detainee pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 (ECF No. 6). Before the court is respondents' amended motion to dismiss the petition (ECF No. 25). Rider opposed the motion, and respondents replied (ECF Nos. 29, 30). Rider filed motions to supplement his petition (ECF Nos. 31, 32). Though the court notes that it is not entirely clear what these supplements add to the petition, the motions are granted. The supplements (ECF Nos. 31-1, 32-1) will be considered part of Rider's petition.

         I. Background and Procedural History

         Rider is a pretrial detainee who was arrested in Texas in February 2015 (ECF No. 6, pp. 7-9). He was returned to Nevada in March 2015, and he has been in the custody of the Esmeralda County Sheriff since that time. Id. He faces felony charges of sexually abusing his daughter. Rider was appointed counsel, but ultimately litigated his right to represent himself and has subsequently proceeded in the Fifth Judicial District pro se with court-appointed standby counsel. He filed a state pretrial habeas corpus petition, which was denied (see Nevada Supreme Court No. 74024).[1] The Nevada Supreme Court dismissed his appeal for lack of jurisdiction because no appeal lies from an order denying a pretrial habeas petition. Id.

         Rider's first jury trial in April 2018 ended in a jury hung 11 to 1 in favor of conviction, and the State elected to re-try Rider (ECF No. 31-1; ECF No. 25, p. 4). Respondents inform the court that Rider was recently tried in Fifth Judicial District Court, and the trial ended in a mistrial and hung jury (see ECF No. 21, p. 2). A new trial date was set for September 2018. Apparently, Rider sought a continuance while he attempted to subpoena several out-of-state witnesses, and the trial was moved to December 2018 (see ECF No. 31-1, p. 2; ECF No. 28, p. 2). The court then granted Rider's request for a continuance as he continued to attempt to subpoena the Texas witnesses and moved the trial date to February 2019. The record reflects nothing further. Rider asks this court to direct the state court to release him from custody pending trial.

         II. Legal Standards & Analysis

         As a general rule, even when the claims in a petition have been fully exhausted in the state courts, a federal court will not entertain a habeas petition seeking intervention in a pending state criminal proceeding, absent special circumstances. See, e.g., Sherwood v. Tomkins, 716 F.2d 632, 634 (9th Cir. 1983); Carden v. State of Montana, 626 F.2d 82, 83-85 (9th Cir. 1980); Davidson v. Klinger, 411 F.2d 746 (9th Cir. 1969).

         This rule of restraint ultimately is grounded in principles of comity that flow from the abstention doctrine of Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971). Under the Younger abstention doctrine, federal courts may not interfere with pending state criminal proceedings absent extraordinary circumstances. There are three exceptions to the Younger abstention doctrine: (1) there is evidence of state proceedings motivated by bad faith; (2) irreparable injury would occur; or (3) there is no adequate alternative state forum where the constitutional issues can be raised. Id. at 45-50.

         Here, the record reflects that Rider was initially appointed counsel, was dissatisfied with a series of appointed attorneys, and ultimately litigated his right to represent himself (exhibit 6, pp. 17-21).[2] Since that time, Rider has represented himself and has had court-appointed standby counsel. As stated, Rider's first jury trial resulted in a hung jury and mistrial. Since then, Rider has filed two federal 1983 civil rights actions regarding his conditions of confinement in this court. Respondents also state that Rider has filed two civil rights actions in state district court (see ECF No. 25, p. 4, n.1).

         The record reflects that the state district court has carefully considered Rider's pretrial detainee habeas claim. At an August 2017 hearing on the petition, the court first noted that bail was set in Rider's case.

I have set bail in this case. You have asked me to reconsider it. I did.
And now you filed a writ asking for the exact same thing. So, I don't care what you call it. The bottom line is, I have ruled on the issue. You have offered nothing new in the scope of that that tells me, you have. I have set bail that is reasonable in light of the charges that you are facing.
And I believe the bail is set, if I recall correctly, at $100, 000, and you are looking at nine separate offenses, which are, involve, quite frankly, life in prison without the possibility of parole. So, I think the bail amount is reasonable. I have set bail. The fact that you are ...

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