The opinion of the court was delivered by: OWEN
Petitioner Agnes Scranton, charged with murder of her infant child, has filed a habeas corpus petition seeking dismissal of the New York State criminal indictment on the grounds that she has been denied her right to a speedy trial.
Her petition poses two threshold jurisdictional questions. First, whether, being at liberty on pretrial parole, she satisfies the "custody" requirement for a habeas petition,
and second, whether with her state trial pending, she must present her claim at such a trial before she is deemed to have exhausted her state remedies, a condition precedent to her application for relief in federal court.
Petitioner Scranton was indicted in January of 1970. The case was called for trial in March, 1974.
The trial, however, was ill-fated, due to illness and injury. Shortly before its outset, petitioner injured her hip and her counsel fractured her knee, and after three jurors had been selected, the prosecutor became ill and was unable to continue. The judge then declared a mistrial.
Petitioner moved the Appellate Division and then the Court of Appeals for a judgment pursuant to Article 78 prohibiting prosecution on speedy trial and double jeopardy grounds. The Court of Appeals ruled that the speedy trial claim was not cognizable in an Article 78 application, and that the double jeopardy argument had no merit.
Petitioner then applied to this court for "habeas corpus relief and the dismissal of the indictment."
Pending determination of this petition, I ordered that state proceedings be stayed.
The state argues that this court lacks jurisdiction because petitioner is not "in custody" within the meaning of the habeas statutes. In March of 1970, petitioner was released on $10,000 bail. She was free on bail until March of 1974 when she was briefly remanded in order to facilitate her transportation to trial. She was then released on parrole.
As a practical matter, this "parole" is the equivalent of bail. Petitioner's only apparent obligation is to appear at trial when directed by the court, and to be "amenable to the orders and processes of the Court." New York Criminal Procedure Law § 510.40(2) (McKinney's 1975). Since March of 1974, petitioner has been on this "parole" status.
There have been conflicting decisions on whether a person released on bail is "in custody" for the purposes of a habeas petition.
In 1973, the Supreme Court in the case of Hensley v. Municipal Court, 411 U.S. 345, 93 S. Ct. 1571, 36 L. Ed. 2d 294, held that a person released on his own recognizance pending appeal, following his conviction at trial, is "in custody". While in this Circuit the specific question remains open,
have concluded that the Hensley rule should extend to cases where the defendant is on parole prior to trial.
One of the bases for the Hensley decision -- that the petitioner is subject to restraints "not shared by the public generally" Id. at 351, 93 S. Ct. at 1575 quoting Jones v. Cunningham, 371 U.S. 236, 240, 83 S. Ct. 373, 9 L. Ed. 2d 285 (1963) -- applies equally to the pretrial situation. Scranton is in a position similar to that of Hensley who "cannot come and go as he pleases. His freedom of movement rests in the hands of state judicial officers, who may demand his presence at any time and without a moment's notice." Id.
I conclude from the foregoing that petitioner has met the "custody" requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 2241.
Although 28 U.S.C. § 2241 does not specifically require the exhaustion of state court remedies, the exhaustion requirement is part of the common law heritage which applies to all habeas statutes. There is no question that petitioner here has exhausted her state remedies prior to trial.
The issue which remains, however, is whether petitioner must present her denial of a speedy trial claim at her state trial and upon appeal if convicted before coming to this court for collateral relief.
Both parties rely upon Braden v. 30th Judicial Circuit Court, 410 U.S. 484, 93 S. Ct. 1123, 35 L. Ed. 2d 443 (1973). In Braden the Court held that a Federal Court had jurisdiction to entertain a habeas petition which raised a speedy trial claim prior to the state court trial. But Braden is fundamentally different from this case. In Braden, the state refused to prosecute, and the only relief sought was an order directing immediate trial. The Court noted at p. 491, 93 S. Ct. p. 1128.
Petitioner made no effort to abort a state proceeding or to disrupt the orderly functioning of state judicial processes. He comes to federal court, not in an effort to forestall a state prosecution, but to enforce the Commonwealth's obligation to provide him with a state court forum.
In contrast, here petitioner Scranton has been given a court date which she has had stayed.
Further, Braden specifically enunciates the basic principle that "federal habeas corpus does not lie, absent 'special circumstances,' to adjudicate the merits of an affirmative defense to a state criminal charge prior to a judgment of conviction by a state court." 410 U.S. at 489, 93 S. Ct. at 1127.
Petitioner's counsel has not advanced any "special circumstances" which would make it appropriate to adjudicate her speedy trial claim prior to trial. If the pretrial delay infects the ...