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Mitchell v. Commissioner of Correction

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

November 4, 2016

JAMES MITCHELL, Petitioner,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF CORRECTION, Respondent.

          RULING ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS

          DOMINIC J. SQUATRITO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         The petitioner, James Mitchell, is confined at Cheshire Correctional Institution. He brings this action pro se for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 challenging his 2005 convictions for attempted murder, kidnapping, sexual assault, assault, possession of a firearm and conspiracy to commit murder, kidnapping, sexual assault and assault. For the reasons that follow, the petition is dismissed.

         I. Procedural Background

         On September 22, 2005, a jury in the Connecticut Superior Court for the Judicial District of Hartford found the petitioner guilty of multiple criminal offenses, including attempted murder in violation of Connecticut General Statutes §§ 53a-49(a), 53a-8 and 53a-54a and conspiracy to commit murder in violation of Connecticut General Statutes §§ 53a-48(a) and 53a-54a. See State v. Mitchell, 110 Conn.App. 305, 307-08 (2008).[1] The court subsequently imposed a total effective sentence of fifty-seven years of imprisonment. Id. at 310.

         The petitioner appealed his sentence and convictions. On September 16, 2008, the Connecticut Appellate Court affirmed the petitioner's convictions. Id. at 329. On November 5, 2008, the Connecticut Supreme Court denied the petitioner's request for certification to appeal the decision of the Appellate Court. State v. Mitchell, 289 Conn. 946 (2008).

         On February 22, 2006, the petitioner filed a petition for a new trial in the Connecticut Superior Court for the Judicial District of Hartford. See Pet. Writ Habeas Corpus, Doc. No. 1 at 5. On August 22, 2016, the court denied the petition. Mitchell v. State of Connecticut, CV 064021601S, 2016 WL 5339515, at *6 (Conn. Super. Ct. Aug. 22, 2016). On September 28, 2016, the petitioner filed an appeal from the denial of his motion for a new trial in the Connecticut Appellate Court. That appeal is pending at this time.[2]

         On April 13, 2010, the petitioner filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in state court raising claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. See Pet. Writ Habeas Corpus, Doc. no. 1 at 6. On Aug. 1, 2013, after a hearing, a judge denied the petition. See Mitchell v. Warden, Case No. CV104003523, 2013 WL 4504829 (Conn. Super. Ct. Aug. 1, 2013).

         On March 26, 2014, the petitioner filed a second state habeas petition raising the following claims: “1) inconsistent theories, 2) ineffective assistance of habeas counsel [and] 3) ineffective assistance of habeas appellate counsel.” Pet. Writ Habeas Corpus, Doc. No. 1 at 7; Mitchell v. Warden, Docket No. TSR-CV14-4006076-S (Conn. Super. Ct. Mar. 26, 2014). That petition remains pending.[3]

         On April 7, 2015, the Connecticut Appellate Court affirmed the denial of the first state habeas petition. See Mitchell v. Commissioner of Correction, 156 Conn.App. 402 (2015). On May 20, 2015, the Connecticut Supreme Court denied the petitioner's request for certification to appeal the decision of the Appellate Court. See Mitchell v. Commissioner of Correction, 317 Conn. 904 (2015).

         The petitioner filed the present petition on March 25, 2016. The petition includes four grounds for relief.

         II. Standard of Review

         A prerequisite to habeas corpus relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 is the exhaustion of available state remedies. See O'Sullivan v. Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 842 (1999); 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1)(A). The exhaustion requirement seeks to promote considerations of comity between the federal and state judicial systems. See Coleman v. Thompson; 501 U.S. 722, 731 (1991).

         To satisfy the exhaustion requirement, a petitioner must present the essential factual and legal bases of his federal claim to each appropriate state court, including the highest state court capable of reviewing it, in order to give state courts a full and fair “opportunity to pass upon and correct alleged violations of its prisoners' federal rights.” Duncan v. Henry, 513 U.S. 364, 365 (1995) (per curiam) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). A federal claim has been “fairly present[ed] . . . in each appropriate state court (including a state supreme court with powers of discretionary review)” if it “alert[s] that court to the federal nature of the claim.” Baldwin v. Reese, 541 U.S. 27, 29 (2004) (internal quotation marks omitted). A petitioner “does not ‘fairly present' a claim to a state court if that court must read beyond a petition or a brief . . . that does not alert it to the presence of a federal claim in order to find material . . . that does so.” Id. at 32.

         Failure to exhaust may be excused only where “there is no opportunity to obtain redress in state court or if the corrective process is so clearly deficient to render futile any effort to obtain relief.” Duckworth v. Serrano, 454 U.S. 1, 3 (1981) (per curiam). A petitioner cannot, however, simply wait until appellate remedies no longer are ...


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