United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
January 10, 2017
VINCENT CLARK, Petitioner,
COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, Respondent.
E. Conrad Chief United States District Judge
Clark, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, has filed this
action, seeking to appeal a state court order that denied his
motion for modification of his term of confinement. The court
initially docketed the submission as a petition for a writ of
habeas corpus, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. After
further review of the petition, however, the court concludes
that it is not a habeas petition and must be
summarily dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.
submissions indicate that he filed a motion in the Amherst
County Circuit Court for modification of the sentences
previously imposed on him by that court, to run such
sentences concurrently or to otherwise adjust his release
date. The Court denied his motion by order dated December 20,
2016. Nothing in the record indicates that Clark has noted an
appeal of the Court's order.
current submission to this court, Clark seeks to appeal the
Amherst court's order, which he presents as an attachment
to his petition. (See ECF No. 1-1.) Clark contends
that he is entitled to appear for a hearing to argue in favor
of a sentence adjustment for two reasons: (1) the court
should apply a local court "[NUNC PRO TUNC] RULE"
and (2) Clark allegedly meets the governor's requirements
for a sentence modification hearing because he has served
"more than enough" of the lengthy, consecutive
sentences imposed on him for nonviolent offenses.
Accordingly, Clark asks this court to set his case for a
these allegations, the court concludes that Clark has filed
his petition in the wrong court system. Lower federal courts,
like this one, do not have jurisdiction to review the
judgments of state courts on appeal. Plyler v.
Moore, 129 F.3d 728, 731 (4th Cir. 1997). See also
District of Columbia Ct. App. v. Feldman. 460 U.S. 462,
482-86 (1983); Rooker v. Fid. Trust Co., 263 U.S.
413, 415-16 (1923). Jurisdiction for appellate review of
state court judgments lies exclusively with superior state
courts and then, potentially, with the United States Supreme
Court. Plyler, 129 F.3d at 731; 28 U.S.C. §
1257. Therefore, to the extent that Clark seeks direct
appellate review by this court of the Amherst County Circuit
Court's order denying his motion for a sentence
modification, this action must be summarily dismissed without
prejudice, as this court has no jurisdiction to conduct the
review Clark seeks. An appropriate order will enter this day.
court does have jurisdiction to review the fact or length of
an inmate's confinement under a state court judgment
through habeas corpus review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
2254. Plyler, 129 F.3d at 732. To warrant relief
under § 2254, however, Clark must demonstrate that he is
confined in violation of the Constitution or laws of the
United States, see § 2254(a), and that he has exhausted
state court remedies as to his habeas claims, see
§ 2254(b). Clark fails to state facts in satisfaction of
either of these requirements. Accordingly, the court declines
to address his current petition as one seeking habeas corpus
relief under § 2254 and dismisses it without prejudice.
See Slayton v. Smith. 404 U.S. 53, 54 (1971)
(finding that § 2254 habeas petition must be dismissed
without prejudice if petitioner has not presented the claims
to the appropriate state court and could still do so).
Dismissal of the action without prejudice leaves Clark free
to file a new and separate § 2254 petition, provided
that he satisfies the noted requirements.
Clerk is directed to send copies of this memorandum opinion
and accompanying order to petitioner.
 Under Rule 4(b) of the Rules Governing
§ 2254 Cases, the court may summarily dismiss a §
2254 petition "[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 court notes that a litigant
generally has thirty days to note an appeal from a Virginia
trial court judgment or other appealable order. See, eg.,
Sup. Ct. Rule 5A:6(a).