A jurisdictional never-never land exists between federal courts and state prisoners. The case today is the first in a series that will introduce this wasteland when it comes to brain-scanning requests.
In the case today, a prisoner sought, through a writ of habeas corpus to the Northern District of Ohio, to direct the warden of the Ohio State Penitentiary to transport the prisoner to a nearby medical center for a PET scan. The prisoner wasn’t seeking funding, just an order of transport. The court found that it lacked jurisdiction to do so.
Federal Jurisdiction to Order State Officials to Comply with Brain Scanning
Trimble v. Bobby, 2011 WL 900997 (N.D. Ohio)
Petitioner filed a writ of habeas corpus requesting an order from the Northern District of Ohio District Court directing the Warden of the Ohio State Penitentiary to transport Petitioner to a nearby medical center for a Positron Emission Tomography Scan (PET Scan). He does not seek funding but claims ineffective assistance of counsel for failing to request funding for a PET scan, the results of which he claims could have been introduced at the penalty phase of his trial to support a claim of brain impairment. Respondent, the state, opposes the motion arguing that the testing is unnecessary and that the district court lacks jurisdiction to order the Warden to convey Petitioner to the nearby medical facility. The Court cites to a recent Sixth Circuit decision, Baze v. Parker, 632 F.3d 338 (2011), which held that 18 U.S.C. § 3599 only provides funding for investigations and does not provide federal courts with jurisdiction to order compliance by state officials with those investigations. The district court here likewise found that it lacks jurisdiction to order that the Petitioner be conveyed for his PET scan under either 18 U.S.C. § 3599 or 28 U.S.C. § 1651. In short, it held that “federal district courts do not have jurisdiction or authority to order state officials to comply with state prisoner’s requests to conduct investigations in support of their post-conviction petitions.” It therefore denied Petitioner’s motion to convey.