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Moment v. Stouffer

United States District Court, D. Maryland

July 9, 2015

MICHAEL MOMENT, # 371430 SID#1109451 Petitioner
v.
WARDEN J. MICHAEL STOUFFER, et al. Respondents

MEMORANDUM

J. Frederick Motz United States District Judge

In this petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, self-represented petitioner Michael Moment is challenging his 2011 conviction in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County for intimidating or corrupting an officer of the court and threatening a state official. At direction of this court, Respondents filed a limited response addressing the issue of exhaustion of claims. Respondents seek dismissal of the petition as unexhausted. Moment has filed a reply.[1]

The case is ripe for disposition and no hearing is necessary. See Rule 8(a), Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Court; Local Rule 105.6; see also Fisher v. Lee, 215 F.3d 438, 455 (4th Cir. 2000) (stating a petitioner is not entitled to a hearing under 28 U.S.C. § 2254). For reasons to follow, the court will dismiss the petition without prejudice for failure to exhaust state court remedies and deny a certificate of appealability.

CLAIMS PRESENTED

Moment requests federal habeas relief on the following grounds: 1) the State lacked authority to prosecute him; 2) the trial court lacked jurisdiction over him; and 3) he has been denied due process of law. (ECF 1).

DISCUSSION

This court has on five previous occasions summarized the procedural history of Moment's state convictions at issue and explained to him the application of the exhaustion requirement under 28 U.S.C. § 2254.[2] This information need not be repeated here except as necessary to consider of the instant petition.[3]

On March 5, 2012, Moment filed a petition for post-conviction relief, claiming that: 1) the prosecution and trial judge lacked jurisdiction over his case, and 2) the prosecution tampered with evidence to obtain his conviction. See Moment v. Joseph R. Morgan, Warden, et al., Civil Action No. WDQ-14-3039, ECF 1, p. 4, 6. Moment's post-conviction proceedings are presently pending in the Circuit Court for Prince George's County subsequent to their August, 2012 transfer from the Circuit Court for Montgomery County for hearing purposes. (ECF 4, Ex. 1. Docket Entries 210-220).[4] On September 10, 2014, Moment, by his counsel, requested a hearing in the case, which was scheduled for March 4, 2015. (ECF 1, Ex. 1). The hearing has since been continued until July 16, 2015. (ECF 4, Ex. 1 No. 210-220).[5]

As the claims raised in the instant petition for federal habeas corpus relief have not been presented to all appropriate state courts, the court will dismiss the petition for lack of exhaustion. Where, as here, a district court dismisses a habeas petition solely on procedural grounds, a certificate of appealability will not issue unless the petitioner can demonstrate both "(1) 'that jurists of reason would find it debatable whether the petition states a valid claim of the denial of a constitutional right' and (2) 'that jurists of reason would find it debatable whether the district court was correct in its procedural ruling.' " Rose v. Lee, 252 F.3d 676, 684 (4th Cir.) (quoting Slack v. Daniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484 (2000)). Moment does not satisfy these requirements, and a certificate of appealability will not issue. A separate order dismissing this case without prejudice and denying a certificate of appealability follows.


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