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Christopher L. Harris v. Paul Copenhaver

October 2, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jennifer L. Thurston United States Magistrate Judge


Petitioner is a federal prisoner proceeding in propria persona with a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241.


The instant petition for writ of habeas corpus was filed on September 12, 2012. (Doc. 1). The petition seeks an order from this Court discharging Petitioner's conviction and sentence in case no. 1:98-CR00121-003, a 1999 conviction in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, on the grounds that the trial court's order of restitution reduced Petitioner's incarceration to a money judgment which Petitioner claims he has satisfied on June 11, 2012 with the delivery of unspecified "security directly to the United payment." (Doc. 1). In the course of conducting a preliminary screening of the petition, it has come to the Court's attention that Petitioner has previously filed no less than seven other habeas petitions raising the same or similar grounds.

A review of the Court's own docket reflects that Petitioner has previously filed petitions in this Court, as follows: (1) case no. 1:11-cv-01553-LJO-DLB, filed on September 14, 2011, and dismissed 3 on October 19, 2011; (2) case no. 1:11-cv-01722-BAM, filed on October 4, 2011, and dismissed on March 16, 2012; (3) case no. 1:12-cv-00512-LJO-DLB, filed on April 4, 2012, and dismissed on 5 September 11, 2012; (4) case no. 1:12-cv-00747-LJO-MJS, filed on May 3, 2012, and dismissed on 6 July 12, 2012; (5) case no. 1:12-cv-00891-LJO-GBC, filed on May 31, 2012, still pending; (6) case no. 7 1:12-cv-00938-AWI-DLB, filed on June 11, 2012, and dismissed on August 3, 2012; and (7) case no. 8 1:12-cv-01483-JLT, filed on September 10, 2012, still pending. 9


A federal court must dismiss a second or successive petition that raises the same grounds as a prior petition. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(1). For state inmates filing federal petitions, the Court must also dismiss a second or successive petition raising a new ground unless the petitioner can show that 1) the claim rests on a new, retroactive, constitutional right or 2) the factual basis of the claim was not previously discoverable through due diligence, and these new facts establish by clear and convincing evidence that but for the constitutional error, no reasonable fact-finder would have found the applicant guilty of the underlying offense. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(2)(A)-(B). This gate-keeping provision requires the Court of Appeals to authorize successive petitions regarding state court judgments pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b).

However, the provisions requiring prior appellate permission to proceed with a successive petition pertain expressly to claims presented under § 2254, and contain no reference to petitions filed under § 2241. Thus, the gate-keeping provisions do not apply to habeas petitions filed under § 2241. Barapind v. Reno, 225 F.3d 1100 (9th Cir. 2000).

Nevertheless, § 2244(a) prevents a federal inmate from utilizing § 2241 to challenge the validity of a federal court conviction or sentence which has previously been presented to the federal court for determination, such as when challenged by way of federal collateral review. Id.; accord, Valona v. United States, 138 F.3d 693, 694-695 (9th Cir. 1998)(concluding that § 2244(a) bars successive petitions under § 2241 directed to the same issue concerning execution of a sentence);

Chambers v. United States, 106 F.3d 472, 475 (2d Cir. 1997)(barring as a second § 2241 petition a 2 repetitive challenge to application of time credits in the administrative calculation of a federal 3 sentence). 4

The AEDPA's bar against successive petitions has been referred to as a modified res judicata 5 rule placing limits on the traditional habeas corpus rule against "abuse of the writ," a "complex and 6 evolving body of equitable principles informed and controlled by historical usage, statutory 7 developments, and judicial decisions." Felker v. Turpin, 518 U.S. 651, 664 (1996)(citing McCleskey 8 v. Zant, 499 U.S. 467, 489 (1991)). If a successive petition is filed, dismissal is warranted. Queen v. 9 Miner, 550 F.3d 253, 255 (3d Cir. 2008); Chambers v. United States, 106 F.3d 472, 475 (2d Cir. 1997).

Because the current petition was filed after April 24, 1996, the provisions of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA) apply to Petitioner's current petition. Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 327 (1997). Here, Petitioner has already presented this issue to multiple courts within this federal district and has received a review of his claim on the merits. In case no. 1:11-cv-01722-BAM, Petitioner, as here, contended that the restitution penalty imposed could be reduced to a money judgment that could then be satisfied, thereby eliminating his prison sentence. In that case, the Court dismissed the claim as follows:

In setting forth his claim, Petitioner relies on statutory provisions concerning enforcement of judgments and debts that are of general applicability. He cites federal statutes that provide that judgments are fines that become a lien on property in favor of the United States and may be enforced by the United States as civil judgments are enforced, that a judgment of a United States District Court shall be a lien on property in the state to the same extent that a state court judgment would be, and that a judgment lien shall be released on the filing of a satisfaction of judgment or release of lien in the same manner as the judgment is filed to obtain the lien. 18 U.S.C. § 3613; 28 U.S.C. § 1962, 3201(d). He further relies on a provision that a person is discharged from a debt to the extent that he makes payment or delivery of money or personal property to the United States or specified officers thereof. 28 U.S.C. § 3206.

Petitioner cites no authority, however, and the Court is aware of none, that requires either a custodial authority or a sentencing court to permit a prisoner to satisfy a criminal judgment for a fine by a prisoner's service of the ...

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