Brown v. Ahern

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Habeas Corpus
  • Date Filed: 04-12-2012
  • Case #: 11-15767
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Hug for the Court; Circuit Judges B. Fletcher and Paez
  • Full Text Opinion

A federal district court shall abstain from exercising jurisdiction over a pre-conviction habeas petition asserting a Speedy Trial claim as an affirmative defense to state prosecution, except in “cases of extraordinary circumstances.”

The State of California charged Nerrah Brown with robbery in March of 2007, and since that time has filed additional charges against him. Brown appeared at several preliminary hearings and the State has commenced initial trial proceedings, but the trial has yet to take place. Brown filed a habeas petition in state court and then in federal district court, seeking dismissal of the charges against him and claiming that the State violated his right to a speedy trial. Both the state court and the district court dismissed the petitions. In affirming the district court’s dismissal, the Ninth Circuit reinforced its “well-established and constitutionally sound rule” that the doctrine of abstention, when asserted by a state as a defense to federal habeas jurisdiction, requires the federal district court to dismiss “a habeas petition that prematurely raises a Speedy Trial defense to state prosecution” except under “extraordinary circumstances.” The Court defined “extraordinary circumstance” as “cases of proven harassment or prosecutions undertaken by state officials in bad faith without hope of obtaining a valid conviction, or in other extraordinary circumstances where irreparable injury can be shown.” Because none of these circumstances apply in Brown’s case, the district court properly abstained from exercising habeas jurisdiction. AFFIRMED.

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