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Heard v. Holloway

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee

December 11, 2019

JIMMY HEARD, Petitioner,
v.
JAMES HOLLOWAY, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          THOMAS A. VARLAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Petitioner, a prisoner of the Tennessee Department of Correction, has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 asserting that the State of Tennessee violated the Interstate Agreement on Detainers (“IAD”) by transferring him to Kentucky without a fugitive warrant[1] [Doc. 1]. Respondent has filed a response [Doc. 15] and the state court record [Doc. 14]. Petitioner has filed a motion for evidentiary hearing [Doc. 16] and a reply [Doc. 17]. After reviewing the relevant filings and the state court record, the Court finds that Petitioner's claim is not cognizable under § 2254. Accordingly, no evidentiary hearing is warranted, see Rule 8(a) of the Rules Governing § 2254 Cases, Petitioner's motion for an evidentiary hearing [Doc. 16] will be DENIED, the § 2254 petition [Doc. 1] will be DENIED, and this action will be DISMISSED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In 2017, the office of the prosecutor in Warren County, Kentucky issued a request for temporary custody of Petitioner, who was in the custody of the State of Tennessee, pursuant to the IAD for prosecution of charges of first-degree robbery and kidnapping [Doc. 14-1 p. 4-10]. Petitioner did not waive extradition [Id. at 9-10], but instead filed a state court petition for a writ of habeas corpus challenging the validity of the Kentucky request [Id. at 13-15].

         After a hearing, the state habeas corpus court denied the petition [Doc. 14-2 p. 5- 14; Doc. 14-1 p. 86]. Petitioner was transferred to Kentucky, where he pleaded guilty to two charges of second-degree robbery and received a total sentence of twenty years in prison to be served consecutive to his current sentence [Doc. 15-1]. Petitioner then returned to the custody of the State of Tennessee [Doc. 16 p. 1].

         Petitioner appealed the denial of his habeas corpus petition to the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals (“TCCA”) by asserting that his transfer to Kentucky was improper because he was not properly served with a fugitive warrant for his arrest as required under the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act (“UCEA”) [Doc. 14-4 p. 1-12], and the TCCA affirmed. Heard v. Lee, 2019 WL 364453, at *3 (Tenn. Crim. App. Jan. 29, 2019).

         Petitioner has now filed the instant petition for relief under § 2254 in which he asserts that his transfer to Kentucky without a fugitive warrant violated the IAD and that the State of Tennessee therefore lost custody of him through this transfer [Doc. 1 p. 5, 14]. Also, in his motion for evidentiary hearing and reply, Petitioner requests that the Court discharge him from the Kentucky detainer and “release him from custody and all restraints” [Doc. 16 p. 2; Doc. 17 p. 6[2].

         II. ANALYSIS

         Respondent first asserts that Petitioner's claim is not cognizable under § 2254. The Supreme Court has held that “habeas review is available to check violations of federal laws when the error qualifies as a fundamental defect which inherently results in a complete miscarriage of justice, [or] an omission inconsistent with the rudimentary demands of fair procedure.” Reed v. Farley, 512 U.S. 339, 348 (1994) (internal quotation marks omitted).

         The IAD is a federal law. Cuyler v. Adams, 449 U.S. 433, 438 (1981). However, the Sixth Circuit has held that, absent exceptional circumstances, a violation of the IAD is not a basis for relief under § 2254. Browning v. Foltz, 837 F.2d 276, 283 (6th Cir. 1988) (holding that violations of the IAD do not provide a basis for habeas relief under § 2254). Moreover, the Sixth Circuit has specifically held that the IAD does not give a district court the authority to order prison officials to disregard a detainer from another state or to order officials from another state to withdraw such a detainer. Bracey v. Tennessee, 616 F.2d 268, 269 (6th Cir. 1980).

         The Supreme Court has explained prosecutor-initiated transfers under the IAD as follows:

Article IV of the Agreement provides the procedure by which the prosecutor in the receiving State may initiate the transfer. First, the prosecutor must file with the authorities in the sending State written notice of the custody request, approved by a court having jurisdiction to hear the underlying charges. For the next 30 days, the prisoner and prosecutor must wait while the Governor of the sending State, on his own motion or that of the prisoner, decides whether to disapprove the request. If the Governor does not disapprove, the prisoner is transferred to the temporary custody of the receiving State where he must be brought to trial on the charges underlying the detainer within 120 days of his arrival. Again, if the prisoner is not brought to trial within the time period, the charges will be dismissed with prejudice, absent good cause shown.

Cuyler, 449 U.S. at 444. As the TCCA noted in its opinion affirming the denial of Petitioner's petition for a writ of habeas corpus, the Supreme Court held that the IAD preserved any rights that prisoners subject to an involuntary transfer under Article IV previously had, including those in UCEA, except the right to contest a transfer that the governor of their state has not affirmatively approved. Heard v. Lee, 2019 WL 364453, at *2 (Tenn. Crim. App. Jan. 29, 2019); Cuyler, 449 U.S. at 445-46.

         The TCCA also noted that Tennessee has adopted both the IAD and the UCEA. Heard, 2019 WL at *2. In doing so, Tennessee adopted the UCEA's requirement that when a person in Tennessee ...


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