United States District Court, D. Maryland
CHARLES T. WINKLER, Petitioner
DAVID HELSEL, Respondent
W. Grimm, United States District Judge
District Court of Maryland for Harford County found Charles
T. Winkler incompetent to stand trial and also found that he
posed a danger to himself or the person or property of
another, and it committed him to the Department of Mental
Health and Mental Hygiene. Commitment Order, ECF No. 5-4.
Winkler challenges that commitment in his Petition for Writ
of Habeas Corpus, filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.
Pet., ECF No. 1. Respondent David Helsel argues that the
Petition should be dismissed because Winkler was lawfully
confined and in any event, he failed to exhaust his
administrative remedies. Resp. 1, ECF No. 5. Respondent also
contends that, alternatively, it should be dismissed as moot
because Petitioner has been released. Id. After
reviewing these papers, I find no need for an evidentiary
hearing. See Rule 8(a), Rules Governing Section
2254 Cases in the United States District Courts; see
also 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(2). Because Winkler was
released and never found guilty, there were no collateral
consequences to his confinement. Therefore, the Petition is
DENIED and DISMISSED.
was charged with unauthorized removal of property in the
District Court of Maryland for Harford County on January 5,
2015. Printed State Ct. Docket, ECF No. 5-1; see
also Online State Ct. Docket,
&loc=34&detailLoc=DSCR. The court ordered a pretrial
competency evaluation, Commitment for Examination Order, ECF
No. 5-2, and Kimberly A. Witczak, Psy. D., evaluated him and
reported that, in her opinion, he did "not have a
factual and rational understanding of the nature and object
of the proceedings against him and a sufficient present
ability to consult with his lawyer with a reasonable degree
of rational understanding, " and "because of a
mental disorder, [he] would be a danger to self and/or the
person and property of others." Pre-Trial Eval. 5, 6,
ECF No. 5-3. On January 15, 2015, the court found Winkler
incompetent to stand trial and dangerous because of his
mental disorder and committed him to the Department of Health
and Mental Hygiene (the "Department"), ordering
that he be transported to Spring Grove Hospital. Commitment
Order. The Commitment Order also scheduled a status
conference for July 15, 2015, and set the annual review
required under Maryland law for January 18, 2016.
April 7, 2015, Winkler filed a petition for habeas corpus
with the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, which referred
the petition to the District Court for Harford County's
Administrative Judge. Pet., ECF No. 5-5; Referral Order,
ECF No. 5-7. When Winkler filed his Petition in this Court in
March 2015, his state court petition had not been resolved,
and neither party has provided an updated status of that
May 18, 2015 status hearing, the District Court of Maryland
for Harford County found that Winkler was competent to stand
trial and ordered him released from commitment at Spring
Grove. Release from Commitment Order, ECF No. 5-8. He was
committed again on July 11, 2016, and then released again on
August 9, 2016, at which time his criminal case was placed on
the stet docket Online State Ct. Docket.
Court "shall entertain an application for a writ of
habeas corpus in behalf of a person in custody pursuant to
the 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) (emphasis added). But, "[a] habeas corpus
petition is moot when it no longer presents a case or
controversy under Article III, § 2, of the
Constitution." Aragon v. Shanks, 144 F.3d 690,
691 (10th Cir. 1998) (citing Spencer v. Kemna, 523
U.S. 1, 7 (1998)). "This case-or-controversy requirement
subsists through all stages of federal judicial proceedings,
trial and appellate. ... The parties must continue to have a
'personal stake in the outcome' of the lawsuit."
Lewis v. Continental Bank Corp., 494 U.S. 472,
477-78 (1990) (quoting Los Angeles v. Lyons, 461
U.S. 95, 101 (1983)).
federal habeas relief is unavailable where a petitioner
"suffers no present restraint from a conviction."
See Maleng v. Cook, 490 U.S. 488, 492 (1989).
Release from state custody does not always moot a claim for
habeas relief, as the collateral consequences of a criminal
conviction-such as the loss of the right to vote or to serve
as a juror-may create "a substantial stake in the
judgment of conviction which survives the satisfaction of the
sentence." Carafas v. LaVallee, 391 U.S. 234,
237 (1968) (quoting Fiswick v. United States, 329
U.S. 211, 222 (1946)). If there are no collateral
consequences upon release, however, then the petition is
moot. See Broughton v. North Carolina, 714 F.2d 147,
149 (4th Cir. 1983) (holding that petitioner's
misdemeanor contempt conviction did not carry any collateral
consequences as petitioner would not be prevented from
voting, serving on a jury, obtaining a law license, becoming
a labor union official, or qualifying for elective office,
and would not be exposed to enhanced sentencing should he
commit a later crime; thus, petitioner's release from
confinement mooted the claim).
Jackson v. Director of Patuxent Institution, 360 F.Supp.
138, 138-39 (D. Md. 1973), the court considered whether
collateral legal consequences existed after a petitioner, who
had been adjudicated a "defective delinquent" and
confined at Patuxent Institution, was released from the
institution after a finding by medical staff that he had been
rehabilitated. The court found that there were no collateral
consequences flowing from petitioner's civil commitment
and his release mooted his habeas claim. Id. at 139.
The Court held:
Unlike a criminal conviction, it cannot be presumed that
there exist collateral legal consequences flowing from such a
determination [of being a "defective delinquent"].
It is merely a decision in the rehabilitation process
regarding the proper method of rehabilitation, which, due to
its seriousness, is clothed with a large measure of due
process rights. It is not a finding of guilt. No express
collateral legal consequences attach to the determination.
There are certainly direct consequences, for example, the
indefinite sentence. However, once the sentence terminates,
no other effects of a legal nature appear to continue to be
felt by the individual beyond those that arise as a
consequence of the underlying conviction. Since none is
presumed to exist, absent a showing of the existence of
collateral legal consequences, the release from Patuxent
Institution of a petitioner will render moot an attack on the
constitutionality of the defective delinquency determination.
Id. (internal citations omitted).
Winkler, a former patient in a state mental institution who
has not been convicted of a crime, does not suffer any
collateral consequences now that he has been released from
his commitment. His release based upon a finding of
competency renders his Petition moot. See id.
the injury for which Winkler sought a remedy, i.e., his
confinement, cannot be "redressed by a favorable
judicial decision, " as he already has been released.
See Spencer, 523 U.S. at 7 ("[T]hroughout the
litigation, the plaintiff 'must have suffered, or be
threatened with, an actual injury traceable to the defendant
and likely to be redressed by a favorable judicial
decision.'" (quoting Lewis, 494 U.S. at
477)). Accordingly, the Petition shall be dismissed.
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.'" Rouse v. Lee,
252 F.3d 676, 684 (4th Cir. 2001) (quoting Slack v. Daniel,
529 U.S. 473, 484 (2000)). Winkler has not met this ...