Bilal v. Carroll, Case No. 3:14cv331/MCR/CJK

CourtUnited States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Northern District of Florida
Decision Date06 May 2015
PartiesJAMAAL ALI BILAL f/k/a JOHN L. BURTON, Petitioner, v. MIKE CARROLL, Respondent.
Docket NumberCase No. 3:14cv331/MCR/CJK

MIKE CARROLL, Respondent.

Case No. 3:14cv331/MCR/CJK


May 6, 2015


Before the court is an amended petition for writ of habeas corpus filed under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, with an attached "Addendum." (Doc. 9). Respondent moves to dismiss the petition for failure to state a claim upon which federal habeas relief can be granted. (Doc. 34). Petitioner opposes dismissal. (Doc. 38). The matter is referred to the undersigned magistrate judge for report and recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636 and N.D. Fla. Loc. R. 72.2(B). After careful consideration, the undersigned concludes that no evidentiary hearing is required for the disposition of this matter. Rule 8(a) of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts. The undersigned further concludes that the pleadings and attachments before the court show that the petition should be dismissed.

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Petitioner is a civil detainee in the custody of the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF), confined at the Florida Civil Commitment Center (FCCC), having been adjudicated a sexually violent predator under Florida's Involuntary Civil Commitment of Sexually Violent Predators Act, Fla. Stat. §§ 394.910 - 394.932.1 Petitioner's civil commitment was pursuant to a Settlement Agreement, wherein petitioner acknowledged that the State could present clear and convincing evidence that he satisfied the commitment criteria of the SVP Act, and agreed to submit himself voluntarily to enter the treatment program at FCCC, in exchange for the State allowing petitioner to receive biannual judicial review of his SVP status.2 (Doc. 9, p. 1; see also Doc. 1, Ex. D (copy of Settlement Agreement)).

In this habeas proceeding, petitioner seeks to be transferred from FCCC to a United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) treatment facility. (Doc. 9 and Addendum, see also Doc. 9, p. 2, ¶ 10 (referring to this proceeding as a "VA Transfer proceeding")).3 Petitioner sets forth little on the petition form itself, instead referring

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the court to the "Addendum" attached to his amended petition. (Doc. 9, Addendum). Petitioner asserts in his Addendum that on November 15, 2002, Judge Terrell, the state court judge presiding over his civil commitment case (Escambia County Circuit Court Case No. 1999-CA-1507), "issued a court order authorizing Mr. Bilal to be transferred to a Veteran Administration facility to address any mental abnormality that Bilal may have." (Doc. 9, Addendum, p. 2). Petitioner asserts that DCF and FCCC officials "shirked" their responsibility to transfer him. (Doc. 9, Addendum, p. 2). Petitioner argues that the Supremacy Clause mandates his transfer to a VA facility, and cites the following additional authority for his claim: "the Veteran Access to Healthcare Act of 2014; Rule 8(a) of the Rules Governing § 2254 Cases; 38 U.S.C. § 5501; 1712A; § 394.4672 Fla. Stat. (2013)." (Doc. 9, Addendum, p. 1). Petitioner attached a copy of Judge Terrell's November 15, 2002 order to his Addendum. (Doc. 9, Addendum, Attach.). The order provides:


This cause having been heard by the Court at a Status Conference on November 14, 2002, it is


1. The necessity exists for Respondent [Mr. Bilal] to continue to receive treatment at the Florida Civil Commitment Center and that a supplemental evaluation will be completed and forwarded to the Court. The Court reserves jurisdiction to entertain future requests to transfer Respondent to a VA facility if such transfer can be arranged and determined to be appropriate by the Court.

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2. It is FURTHER ORDERED that Dr. Ted Shaw shall conduct a supplemental evaluation to determine if Respondent is eligible for such transfer.

(Doc. 9, Addendum, Attach). Petitioner complains that he has made several appointments with VA facilities, but respondent has refused to honor his appointments. (Doc. 9, Addendum, p. 3). Petitioner also complains that "several years ago, the VA Medical Center, Lake City, FL had agreed to accept Petitioner upon terms that he would spend twelve hours in-patient at their VA facility and twelve hours on the streets but [DCF] officials would not coordinate such transfer." (Doc. 9, Addendum, p. 3). Petitioner asserts he presented his "VA transfer" claim to the state courts by filing a mandamus petition in the Leon County Circuit Court claiming that DCF's failure to transfer him to a VA facility for treatment violated his rights under the Florida Constitution and the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution. (Doc. 9, p. 3 ¶ 11; see also Doc. 1, Ex. AA, Pet. for Writ of Mandamus). Petitioner identifies the mandamus proceeding as Case No. 2014-CA-1719. Petitioner's mandamus petition was denied on October 13, 2014. (Doc. 34, Ex. A, pp. 32-33). Petitioner did not seek further review. As relief in this federal habeas proceeding, petitioner requests "transfer to a VA facility at all deliberate speed." (Doc. 9, Addendum, p. 6). Petitioner's reply emphasizes that the purpose of this proceeding is to secure his transfer to a VA facility for treatment, as "authorized" by Judge Terrell's November 15, 2002 order. (Doc. 38).


Respondent moves to dismiss the petition with prejudice as a § 2254 action, but without prejudice "for petitioner to bring a civil action seeking declaratory and mandamus/injunctive-type relief." (Doc. 34, p. 1). Respondent explains:

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The gist of this motion is that Bilal is attempting to use § 2254 not to challenge the legality of his civil commitment as a sexually violent predator (SVP), but to establish a federal right to be treated by the Veteran's Administration (VA). Thus, he fails to state a claim under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Dismissal is proper under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6).

(Doc. 34, p. 1).

Respondent argues that petitioner's claim that he is entitled to be treated in a VA facility has no bearing on the legality of his civil commitment and therefore is not cognizable in a § 2254 proceeding. (Doc. 34, pp. 6-7). Respondent continues that even if cognizable under § 2254, this action should be dismissed because petitioner failed to properly exhaust his "VA Transfer" claim in the state courts. Respondent asserts that petitioner's mandamus petition filed in the Leon County Circuit Court does not constitute proper exhaustion, because the Leon County Circuit Court was without jurisdiction to relieve petitioner from an order issued by an equal court (the Escambia County Circuit Court's commitment order). Even if the Leon County Circuit Court had jurisdiction, petitioner's failure to seek review of the denial of mandamus relief deprived the state courts of a full and fair opportunity to address his claim. (Doc. 34, pp. 5-6). Respondent argues that in any event, petitioner's claim lacks merit because the Supremacy Clause does not of itself create private rights (e.g., the "right" to be transferred to a VA facility). (Doc. 34, p. 7 (citing Golden State Transit Corp. v. City of Los Angeles, 493 U.S 103, 107 (1989))).

Petitioner's reply in opposition argues that Fla. Stat. § 394.4672 authorizes a state court to place a civilly committed person with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs for care or treatment; that Judge Terrell's November 15, 2002 order did just that; that petitioner took the initiative to facilitate his transfer to a VA facility by scheduling appointments at various VA facilities; that FCCC officials failed to

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honor petitioner's appointments; and that DCF's failure to transfer petitioner to a VA facility "constitute[s] a Supremacy Clause violation." (Doc. 38, pp. 1-6 (citing Bennett v. Arkansas, 485 U.S. 395, 108 S. Ct. 1204, 99 L. Ed. 2d 455 (1988)). Petitioner argues that his transfer claim is cognizable in federal habeas, citing Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 500, 93 S. Ct. 1827, 36 L. Ed. 2d 439 (1973), because he is challenging the fact or duration of his physical imprisonment and seeking immediate or speedier release. (Doc. 38, pp. 6-9). Petitioner argues that he should be excused from the exhaustion requirement "due to...

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