United States District Court, D. Montana, Missoula Division
ORDER AND FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION OF U.S.
Kathleen L. DeSoto United States Magistrate Judge
October 9, 2019, the Court received from Mr. Maxvill a letter
asserting violations of his constitutional rights. Maxvill is
facing one or more criminal charges in Mineral County. He
states that he has been held in jail for almost six months
out of the past year, despite his innocence, because the
attorneys appointed to represent him have all had conflicts
of interest. See Letter (Doc. 1) at 2. In
Maxvill's view, these conflicts stem from the fact that
Ed Sheehy, the attorney responsible for appointing counsel
when the public defenders have a conflict, has a conflict
himself with respect to Maxvill. Maxvill also contends that
previous counsel lied to him and about him. See,
e.g., Attachment (Doc. 1-1) at 2.
lack of a better option, the clerk opened a case in
Maxvill's name. Because Maxvill's letter indicates he
qualified for the appointment of counsel in the state court,
this Court will assume, for present purposes, that he cannot
afford to pay all costs that may be associated with a habeas
action. The filing fee will be waived.
jurisdiction potentially arises under a provision of the
general habeas corpus statute, 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3),
as Maxvill alleges his custody violates the Constitution. His
letter will be construed as a petition for writ of habeas
corpus because, if a federal judge could act on his letter, a
habeas petition would be the appropriate jurisdictional
"a federal court's exercise of jurisdiction over a
habeas petition that raises an affirmative defense to state
prosecution before trial and conviction can have the same
effect as a direct injunction of ongoing state
proceedings." Brown v. Ahem, 676 F.3d 899,
900-01 (9th Cir. 2012). And "the normal thing to do when
federal courts are asked to enjoin pending proceedings in
state courts is not to issue such injunctions."
Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 45 (1971).
numerous difficulties in finding conflict-free counsel do not
suggest the prosecutor brought the case in bad faith or has
no realistic hope of obtaining a valid conviction.
Maxvill's dissatisfaction with his counsel and the manner
of counsel's appointment do not threaten
"irreparable injury," Perez v. Ledesma,
401 U.S. 82, 85 (1971); Brown, 676 F.3d at 901,
because Maxvill has recourse through further proceedings in
the state court, appeal, and other state remedies as well as
a post-judgment federal habeas petition. Maxvill's letter
does not justify preconviction federal habeas corpus relief.
a person facing state criminal charges may ask a federal
court to intervene, not by writing a letter, but by filing a
petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. §
2241(c)(3). The general rule, however, is that federal courts
will not interfere with state criminal proceedings. MaxvilPs
allegations do not come close to showing that his case should
be an exception to the general rule. If he is convicted, and
if he believes his federal constitutional rights were
violated in the process, and if state remedies prove
unsuccessful, then he may challenge the validity of his
conviction and/or sentence by filing in this Court a petition
for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. At
this time, however, the federal court is obliged to defer to
the state proceedings. See Brown, 676 F.3d at 903.
No decision is made on the merits of Maxvill's
certificate of appealability must be considered, see
28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2); Haywardv. Marshall, 603
F.3d 546, 554 (9th Cir. 2010) (en banc), abrogated on
other grounds by Swarthout v. Cooke, 562 U.S. 216,
220-22 (2011) (per curiam), but is not warranted. The case is
plainly controlled by Brown v. Ahem, 676 F.3d 899
(9th Cir. 2012).
on the foregoing, the Court enters the following:
1. Maxvill's letter is RECHARACTERIZED as a petition for
writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241.
2. The petition is also construed as a motion to proceed in
construed, the motion is GRANTED. The clerk will waive