Kell v. Benzon, No. 17-4191 (10th Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
Troy Kell sought habeas relief, but he had not exhausted two of his claims in state court. The unexhausted claims created what the Tenth Circuit characterized as a Catch-22 for Kell: risking a dismissal of all of his claims without an opportunity to timely refile. The district court entered a limited stay, halting proceedings on one of the unexhausted claims while Kell returned to state court to exhaust the claim. For the remaining habeas claims, however, the district court continued with the proceedings. In the midst of the ongoing habeas proceedings in district court, Utah appealed the grant of a stay, arguing that the district court should have declined to grant a stay. To establish jurisdiction, Utah relied on the collateral-order doctrine, which allowed appeals from some decisions before the entry of a final judgment. But the Tenth Circuit found the district court’s issuance of a stay did not satisfy the collateral-order doctrine’s requirements, so it dismissed the appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction.