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Huff v. Stewart

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division

October 2, 2014

JOHNNY R. HUFF, Petitioner,
v.
JAMES W. STEWART, III, Respondent.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

M. HANNAH LAUCK, District Judge.

Johnny R. Huff, proceeding pro se, brings this Amended Petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254[1] ("Amended § 2254 Petition, " ECF No. 4). Huff challenges his civil commitment, pursuant to the Sexually Violent Predators Act ("SVPA"), Va. Code Ann. § 37.2-900, et seq. (West 2014), by the Circuit Court of Chesterfield County ("Circuit Court").

By Memorandum Order entered on December 6, 2011, the Court directed Huff to file his § 2254 Petition on the standardized forms. (ECF No. 3, at 1.) The Court informed Huff that, "[t]he Court's consideration of Petitioner's grounds for habeas relief shall be limited to the grounds and supporting facts concisely set forth on th[e] standardized form and on any attached pages." ( Id. ) In his Amended § 2254 Petition, Huff tersely asserted:[2]

Claim One: The SVPA constitutes an unlawful bill of attainder. (Am. § 2254 Pet. 6.)
Claim Two: "Civil commitment under cramped prison cell living conditions- strip searches-mail censored and read... and other prison like environment constitute[s] punishment[.]" ( Id at 7 (capitalization and spelling corrected).)

Respondent moved to dismiss the Amended § 2254 Petition. By Memorandum Opinion and Order entered on March 19, 2013, the Court denied the Motion to Dismiss without prejudice and directed the parties to submit further briefing addressing, inter alia, mootness and the merits of Huff's claims. Huff v. Stewart, No. 3:11CV717, 2013 WL 1155534, at *4 (E.D. Va. Mar. 19, 2013).

Respondent submitted his Supplemental Brief in Support of Motion to Dismiss ("Supplemental Brief, " ECF No. 21) and provided Huff with appropriate Roseboro notice. (ECF No. 20).[3] As explained below, Huff's claims will be DISMISSED as procedurally defaulted.

I. Procedural History

A. Initial Commitment Proceedings

On October 2, 2009, the Circuit Court entered a Commitment Order for Huff pursuant to the SVPA. Commitment Order at 1-3, Commonwealth v. Huff, No. CL07-2718 (Va. Cir. Ct. Oct. 2, 2009). Specifically, the Circuit Court committed Huff to the custody of the Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services. Id. at 1.

B. First State Habeas Petition

Shortly after the Circuit Court entered the Commitment Order, on October 7, 2009, Huff filed a pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus with the Supreme Court of Virginia. Writ of Habeas Corpus at 1, Huff v. Dir. of Va. Ctr. for Behavioral Rehab., No. 092208 (Va. filed Oct. 7, 2009) ("First State Habeas Petition").[4] In his First State Habeas Petition, Huff raised the following claims:

Claim I The Circuit Court abused its discretion when it "commented at sentencing that [it] sentenced Mr. Huff because he refused to admit his guilt and because he allowed state's witness Ilona Gravers to taint case by saying she felt Huff should be committed because he refused to admit his guilt." Id. at 2.
Claim II Holding Huff in prison violated Huff's rights under the Eighth Amendment.[5]
Claim III Huff's continued confinement jeopardizes Huff's health.
Claim IV Huff's rights were violated by the introduction of, inter alia, evidence from a prior criminal proceeding at ...

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