United States District Court, D. Montana, Billings Division
ORDER AND FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED
STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Timothy Cavan United States Magistrate Judge
case comes before the Court on Petitioner Chad Bjork's
application for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C.
§2254, filed February 20, 2018. Bjork is a state
prisoner proceeding pro se.
was one of a group of petitioners that joined in filing what
they characterized as an “En Masse Petition for Writ of
Habeas Corpus 28 U.S.C. § 2254 as per Rule 23 of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.” (Doc. 2). The
“en masse” petitioners sought to challenge the
constitutionality of the criminal charging process utilized
against them by the State of Montana. Id. at 19-33.
and the additional petitioners, were notified that the Court
would not allow them to proceed as a group and that separate
cases would be opened for each. (Doc. 1 at 2-5). Petitioners
were then ordered to respond individually to advise the Court
whether or not they wished to proceed and, if so, petitioners
were directed to each complete the Court's standard
habeas form. Id. at 5-6. Bjork did not respond to
this Court's order.
Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis
has moved this Court to be granted in forma pauperis status.
(Doc. 3). Because there is no reason to delay this matter
further, Bjork's motion will be GRANTED.
Supplement to Petition
Supplement to his Petition, Bjork asks this Court to dismiss
a Sexual Intercourse without Consent conviction handed down
in Montana's Thirteenth Judicial District Court,
Yellowstone County, in Cause No. DC-15-538. (Doc. 4 at
The argument is premised upon what Bjork believes to be a
faulty and unconstitutional state criminal charging process
utilized in felony prosecutions. Id. Bjork contends he
was entitled to be prosecuted either following the empaneling
of a grand jury or a preliminary probable cause hearing.
this Court is not able to provide Bjork the relief sought.
Federal district courts, as courts of original jurisdiction,
do not serve as appellate tribunals to review errors
allegedly committed by state courts. MacKay v.
Pfeil, 827 F.2d 540, 543 (9th Cir. 1987);
see also Atlantic Coast Line R. Co. v. Brotherhood of
Locomotive Engineers, 398 U.S. 281, 296
(1970)(“lower federal courts possess no power whatever
to sit in direct review of state court decisions”). It
would be entirely inappropriate for this Court to review and
dismiss the state convictions as suggested by Bjork. To the
extent that the Supplement (Doc. 4) is construed as a Motion
to Dismiss, the motion is DENIED.
not appear that Bjork has ever attempted to raise his current
claim before the state courts of Montana. Federal courts
may not grant a writ of habeas corpus brought by an
individual in custody pursuant to a state court judgment
unless “the applicant has exhausted the remedies
available in the courts of the State.” 28 U.S.C.
§2254(b)(1)(A). The exhaustion requirement is grounded
in the principles of comity and gives states the first
opportunity to correct alleged violations of a prisoner's
federal rights. Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722,
the exhaustion requirement, a petitioner must (1) use the
“remedies available, ” § 2254(b)(1)(A),
through the state's established procedures for appellate
review, O'Sullivan v. Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838,
845 (1999); (2) describe “the federal legal theory on
which his claim is based, ” Davis v. Silva,
511 F.3d 1005, 1009 (9th Cir. 2008); and (3)
describe “the operative facts . . . necessary to give
application to the constitutional principle upon which the
petitioner relies, ” id. See also Gray v.
Netherland, 518 U.S. 152, 162-63 (1996) (discussing
Picard v. Connor, 404 U.S. 270 (1971) and
Anderson v. Harless, 459 U.S. 4 (1982)). A
petitioner must meet all three prongs of the test in one
the Court is not suggesting that the claim Bjork seeks to
advance is cognizable in habeas or meritorious in nature,
assuming it were, it does not relieve Bjork of the burden of
first presenting such claim to the state courts. Accordingly,
there are still remedies available under state law. Because
Bjork has not yet exhausted his available state court
remedies, this ...