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Mercer v. Joyce

United States District Court, D. Maine

January 16, 2015

CRAIG J. MERCER, Petitioner,
KEVIN JOYCE, Respondent

CRAIG J MERCER, Petitioner, Pro se, PORTLAND, ME.


John C. Nivison, United States Magistrate Judge.

Petitioner Craig J. Mercer has filed a petition, which he has identified as a motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Because Petitioner challenges several state court judgments, his filing is in substance a petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. See Gonzalez-Fuentes v. Molina, 607 F.3d 864, 875 n.9 (1st Cir. 2010) (noting that although the petitioners filed under sections 2241 and 2254, " prisoners in state custody are required to comply with all the requirements laid out in § 2254 whenever they wish to challenge their custodial status, no matter what statutory label the prisoner uses").

When a section 2254 motion is filed, a court must promptly examine it, and " [i]f it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court, the judge must dismiss the petition . . . ." Rule 4, Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases. A petitioner is entitled to relief only if he is " in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court" and " 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).

A review of Petitioner's filing reveals that the state court judgments about which Petitioner complains are not the cause of Petitioner's present incarceration. Instead, Petitioner complains of the issues related to the suspension of his driver's license and the payment of fines.[1] Petitioner, therefore, has not established a necessary prerequisite to a section 2254 action - that his custodial status is the result of the particular state court judgments that he challenges in his petition. See Lillios v. New Hampshire, 788 F.2d 60, 61 (1st Cir. 1986) (per curiam) (" [W]e agree with those courts which have concluded that fines and suspensions of the amount here involved are not the sort of 'severe[] restraint on individual liberty' for which habeas corpus relief is reserved.") (quoting Harts v. Indiana, 732 F.2d 95, 97 (7th Cir. 1984)) (quotation marks omitted); Westberry v. Keith, 434 F.2d 623, 624-25 (5th Cir. 1970) (per curiam) (holding that revocation of the right to drive is not a sufficient restriction of liberty to permit federal courts to take habeas corpus jurisdiction).[2] Because Petitioner has not satisfied, and on this record cannot satisfy, the custody requirement of section 2254, the petition should be dismissed.


Based on the foregoing analysis, an evidentiary hearing is not warranted under Rule 8 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases. The recommendation is (1) that the Court dismiss Petitioner's motion for habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, and (2) that the Court deny a certificate of appealability pursuant to Rule 11 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases because there is no substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2).


A party may file objections to those specified portions of a magistrate judge's report or proposed findings or recommended decisions entered pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 636(b)(1)(B) for which de novo review by the district court is sought, together with a supporting memorandum, within fourteen (14) days of being served with a copy thereof. A responsive memorandum shall be filed within fourteen (14) days after the filing of the objection.
Failure to file a timely objection shall constitute a waiver of the right to de novo review by the district court and to appeal the district court's order.

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