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Anderson v. Montana Board of Pardons and Parole

United States District Court, D. Montana, Helena Division

May 14, 2019

SCOTT C. ANDERSON Petitioner,
v.
MONTANA BOARD OF PARDONS AND PAROLE; ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF MONTANA; Respondents.

          ORDER AND FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          John Johnston United States Magistrate Judge.

         On May 7, 2019, Petitioner Scott C. Anderson, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, filed a petition for habeas corpus relief pursuant 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (Doc. 1 at 8.)[1]

         I. Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis

         Mr. Anderson seeks leave of the Court to proceed in forma pauperis. See, (Doc. 2.) After reviewing the motion and supporting account statement, Anderson has sufficiently shown he cannot afford to pay all costs that may be associated with this action. The motion to proceed in forma pauperis will be granted.

         II. 28 U.S.C. § 2254 Petition

         As explained more fully below, because Anderson's current claims are unexhausted, his petition should be dismissed without prejudice.

         i. Anderson's Claims

         Anderson was apparently released on parole on January 15, 2019, but was taken back into custody for the purported violations on March 9, 2019. (Doc. 1 at 13-14.) According to Anderson, on April 3, 2019, a parole revocation hearing was held. Id. at 4, ¶13(A). Anderson asserts that the punishment he received for the violations was excessive. It appears Anderson was removed from semi-restricted/transitional housing center for violating curfew and that a determination was made that he should complete additional Sexual Offender Programming (SOP). Id. at 3, ¶3. Anderson claims the SOP requirement is unlawful because he is not currently being supervised in Montana for a sexual offense and that it was previously determined that he required no further treatment. Id. at 5, ¶13(B). Anderson acknowledges he was convicted of spousal rape in Idaho in 2001. Id.; see also, (Doc. 1-1 at 1.)

         Anderson contends that in revoking his parole, the Board of Pardons and Parole did not consider his current family situation. (Doc. 1 at 9.) Apparently, Anderson's current wife is ill and in need of assistance; Anderson had been gainfully employed and providing his income and health benefits to his family. Id. Anderson claims his unique circumstances were not taken into account and alternative sanctions were not considered or exhausted. Id. at 11.

         Anderson asks this Court to either order a new revocation hearing or impose the parole conditions previously set by the state district court in Cause No. DC-15-543.[2] Id. at 7, ¶16.

         ii. Analysis

         As a preliminary matter it is unclear if Anderson intended to file this action in Federal District Court, or if he actually meant his filing for state district court. He makes several references to a "district court judge" and "appealing to a state court." See e.g., (Doc. 1 at 5, 10.) Additionally, the in forma pauperis application Anderson completed is captioned for state court. See, (Doc. 2 at 1.)

         To the extent he intended to file in this Court, Anderson is advised that 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"). Federal habeas relief is available only for violations of federal law. "[A] district court shall entertain an application for a writ of habeas corpus in behalf of a person in custody pursuant to a judgment of a State court only on the ground that he is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States." 28 U.S.C. §2254(a). "[F]ederal habeas corpus relief does not lie for errors of state law." Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 67 (1991)(citations omitted).

         Assuming for the sake of argument that Anderson can advance colorable federal claims, his petition should be dismissed because any claim he seeks to advance relative to his current custody has not yet been exhausted ...


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