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Houston v. Norwood

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


January 21, 2009

ERIC E. HOUSTON, PETITIONER,
v.
WARDEN NORWOOD, RESPONDENT.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: John F. Walter United States District Judge

OPINION AND ORDER ON A PETITION FOR HABEAS CORPUS

On January 13, 2009, petitioner Eric E. Houston, a federal prisoner proceeding pro se, filed a purported petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241, claiming federal prison officials are subjecting him to "cruel and unusual punishment" by placing him in administrative segregation and retaliating against him by "tampering and holding [his] mail." Petition at 3-4.

DISCUSSION

Historically, the function of the writ of habeas corpus is to secure immediate release from illegal physical custody. Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 484, 93 S.Ct. 1827, 1833, 36 L.Ed. 2d 439 (1973). Habeas corpus "lies to enforce the right of personal liberty; when that right is denied and a person confined, the federal court has the power to release him. Indeed, it has no other power[.]" Faye v. Noia, 372 U.S. 391, 430-31, 83 S.Ct. 822, 844, 9 L.Ed. 2d 837 (1963), overruled on other grounds, Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722, 111 S.Ct. 2546, 115 L.Ed. 2d 640 (1991).

Here, the instant petition does not challenge the length or duration of petitioner's confinement, or the manner in which it is being carried out; rather, it challenges conditions of petitioner's prison confinement. Such a challenge is not properly brought in a habeas corpus proceeding, but is more properly brought in a civil rights action.*fn1 Preiser, 411 U.S. at 499, 93 S.Ct. at 1841; Badea v. Cox, 931 F.2d 573, 574 (9th Cir. 1991).

This Court cannot convert the instant habeas corpus petition into a civil rights or Bivens action*fn2 because, among other things, the petitioner has not complied with the requirements of the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 ("PLRA"). An action with respect to prison conditions is defined in the PLRA as "any civil proceeding arising under Federal law with respect to the conditions of confinement or the effects of actions by government officials on the lives of persons confined in prison. . . ." 18 U.S.C. § 3626(g)(2). Given this broad statutory definition, the instant petition certainly constitutes an action with respect to prison conditions and, as such, is controlled by the PLRA. Yet, petitioner has not complied with the PLRA and its requirements for filing in forma pauperis. If petitioner seeks to bring a civil rights action, he must file a complaint and comply with the requirements of PLRA, including exhausting available administrative remedies.*fn3

Local Rule 72-3.2 provides for the summary dismissal of habeas corpus petitions "if it plainly appears from the face of the petition and any exhibits annexed to it that the petitioner is not entitled to relief. . . ." Since petitioner is not entitled to habeas relief, this matter should be summary dismissed under Local Rule 72-3.2

ORDER

IT IS ORDERED that Judgment be entered summarily dismissing the petition and action without prejudice.

DATE: January 16, 2009

ROSALYN M. CHAPMAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE


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