United States District Court, D. Delaware
THEODORE D. JACKSON, Petitioner, By and Through HERMIONE K.I. WINTER, Petitioner-Next Friend,
ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE, Respondent.
pending before the Court is a Petition for a Writ of Habeas
Corpus Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 filed by
Petitioner-Next Friend Hermione K.I. Winter on behalf of
Petitioner, Theodore D. Jackson, challenging his 2014
convictions. (D.I. 2) Petitioner-Next Friend asserts she
signed and filed the Petition for Petitioner due to "the
high level of Petitioner's mental incompetency."
(D.I. 2 at 15)
federal district court may summarily dismiss a habeas
petition "if it plainly appears from the face of the
petition and any exhibits annexed to it that the petitioner
is not entitled to relief." Rule 4, 28 U.S.C. foil.
§ 2254. "Application for a writ of habeas corpus
shall be in writing signed and verified by the person for
whose relief it is intended or by someone acting on his
behalf." 28 U.S.C. § 2242. In turn, before a
federal court can consider the merits of a legal claim, the
person seeking to invoke the jurisdiction of the court must
establish the requisite standing to sue pursuant to Article
III of the United States Constitution. Whitmore v.
Arkansas, 495 U.S. 149, 154 (1990); U.S. CONST, art.
Ill. § 2. Although, as a general rule, one pro
se litigant may not act as an attorney for another
individual,  a person with "next friend"
standing may prosecute a habeas petition on behalf of a
prisoner. See generally Whitmore, 495 U.S. 149. A
person establishes "next friend" standing by
demonstrating that the prisoner "is unable, usually
because of mental incompetence or inaccessibility, to seek
relief himself," and that the "next friend"
has some "significant relationship" with the
prisoner and is truly dedicated to best interests of the
prisoner. See Whitmore, 495 U.S. at 162-64. The
burden of proving "next friend" status rests with
the moving party. Id. at 163. "Where standing
is lacking, the federal courts lack the power to grant habeas
relief." In re Zettlemoyer, 53 F.3d 24, 27 (3d
reviewed the face of the instant Petition, the Court
concludes that summary dismissal is appropriate because
Petitioner-Relator, the person who filed the Petition on
behalf of Petitioner, does not have standing to pursue habeas
relief in this case. First, Petitioner-Relator is herself a
pro se litigant and, therefore, may not act as an
attorney for other individuals. Second, Petitioner-Relator
has not satisfied the requirements necessary to proceed as
Petitioner's "next friend."
Petitioner-Relator's conclusory and unsupported reference
to Petitioner's "high level of mental
incompetency" does not, on its own, demonstrate that
Petitioner is unable to file and/or sign a habeas petition on
his own behalf. Moreover, Petitioner-Relator's statement
that she is Petitioner's friend does not demonstrate the
she and Petitioner have a "significant
relationship" or that she is truly dedicated to
Petitioner's best interests. Given
Petitioner-Relator's failure to adequately explain why
Petitioner is unable to litigate this habeas action on his
own behalf, the Court concludes that it must dismiss the case
for lack of next friend standing.
the Court will summarily dismiss Petitioner's § 2254
Petition (D.I. 2) without prejudice for lack of next friend
standing without issuing a certificate of appealability.
See 28 U.S.C. 2253(c)(2); United States v.
Eyer, 113 F.3d 470 (3d Or. 1997); 3d Or. L.A.R. 22.2
(2011). The Court will also dismiss Petitioner's Motion
for Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (D.I. 1) as
moot. A separate Order follows.
Article III standing is a
jurisdictional requirement, which a court is obligated to
raise sua sponte. Storino v. Borough of Point Pleasant
Beach, 322 F.3d 293, 296 (3d Cir. 2003); Desi's
Pizza Inc. v. City of Wilkes-Barre, 321 F.3d 411, 420
(3d Ck. 2003).
See 28 U.S.C. § 1654;
Alexander p. New Jersey State Parole Bd., 160
Fed.Appx. 249, 250 n.l (3d Ck. 2005); Harris v.
Philadelphia Police Dep't, 2006 WL 3025882 (E.D. Pa.
Oct. 20, 2006.); In the Matter of Chojecki, 2000 WL
679000, at *2 (E.D. Pa. May 22, 2000) ("Although a
non-attorney may appear in propria persona on his
own behalf, that privilege is personal to him and he has ...