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Joel Nathan Ward v. On Habeas Corpus

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


December 28, 2012

JOEL NATHAN WARD,
PETITIONER,
v.
ON HABEAS CORPUS,
RESPONDENT.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sheila K. Oberto United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER DISMISSING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS BROUGHT PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 2241 (Doc. 1)

ORDER DECLINING TO ISSUE A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY AND DIRECTING THE CLERK TO CLOSE THE CASE

Petitioner is a federal prisoner proceeding pro se in a habeas corpus action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c)(1), Petitioner has consented to the jurisdiction of the United States Magistrate Judge to conduct all further proceedings in the case, including the entry of final judgment, by manifesting consent in a signed writing filed by Petitioner on December 17, 2012 (doc. 4). Pending before the Court is the petition, which was filed on December 5, 2012.

I. Screening the Petition

The Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts (Habeas Rules) are appropriately applied to proceedings undertaken pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Habeas Rule 1(b). Habeas Rule 4 requires the Court to make a preliminary review of each petition for writ of habeas corpus. The Court must summarily dismiss a petition "[i]f it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court...." Habeas Rule 4; O'Bremski v. Maass, 915 F.2d 418, 420 (9th Cir. 1990); see also Hendricks v. Vasquez, 908 F.2d 490 (9th Cir. 1990). Habeas Rule 2(c) requires that a petition 1) specify all grounds of relief available to the Petitioner; 2) state the facts supporting each ground; and 3) state the relief requested.

Notice pleading is not sufficient; the petition must state facts that point to a real possibility of constitutional error. Rule 4, Advisory Committee Notes, 1976 Adoption; O'Bremski v. Maass, 915 F.2d at 420 (quoting Blackledge v. Allison, 431 U.S. 63, 75 n. 7 (1977)). Allegations in a petition that are vague, conclusory, or palpably incredible are subject to summary dismissal. Hendricks v. Vasquez, 908 F.2d at 491. Further, the Court may dismiss a petition for writ of habeas corpus either on its own motion under Habeas Rule 4, pursuant to the respondent's motion to dismiss, or after an answer to the petition has been filed. Advisory Committee Notes to Habeas Rule 8, 1976 Adoption; see, Herbst v. Cook, 260 F.3d 1039, 1042-43 (9th Cir. 2001).

Here, Petitioner is an inmate of the Taft Correctional Institution at Taft, California (TCI) who challenges convictions that he suffered in May 2008 in United States v. Joel Nathan Ward, case number 2:07-cr-00135-GEB-1, in the Sacramento Division of this Court. Petitioner alleges that he suffered multiple violations of specified constitutional rights during the proceedings relating to his conviction occurring between November 2006 and April 25, 2008. (Pet., doc. 1, 1-4.) Petitioner contends that the proceedings were illegal from their inception due to a lack of authority or jurisdiction to prosecute Petitioner which Petitioner alleges resulted from specified instances of misconduct on the part of government agents, including but not limited to an illegal search and seizure of evidence used to prosecute Petitioner, falsification of information in the affidavit and criminal complaint, illegal arrest, and ineffective assistance of counsel during pretrial proceedings and in connection with advice given to Petitioner concerning a plea bargain that resulted in Petitioner's entering an uninformed and involuntary plea of guilty and being sentenced to the term he is presently serving. (Id. at 4-18.) Petitioner alleges generally that he is illegally incarcerated and is innocent of committing any criminal offense against the United States or criminal violation of any federal law. (Id. at 2.) He further asserts that he believes the remedy pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 is inadequate or ineffective. (Id. at 2-3.) He states he is well past the one-year period of limitation set forth in § 2255(f). (Id. at 3.)

II. Analysis

A federal prisoner who wishes to challenge his conviction or sentence on the grounds it was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States or was otherwise subject to collateral attack must do so by way of a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct the sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. 28 U.S.C. § 2255; Stephens v. Herrera, 464 F.3d 895, 897 (9th Cir. 2006); Tripati v. Henman, 843 F.2d 1160, 1162 (9th Cir. 1988). In such cases, the motion must be filed in the district where the defendant was sentenced because only the sentencing court has jurisdiction. Hernandez v. Campbell, 204 F.3d 861, 864 (9th Cir. 2000); Tripati, 843 F.2d at 1163. Generally, a prisoner may not collaterally attack a federal conviction or sentence by way of a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Stephens v. Herrera, 464 F.3d at 897; Tripati, 843 F.2d at 1162.

In contrast, a federal prisoner challenging the manner, location, or conditions of that sentence's execution must bring a petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Brown v. United States, 610 F.2d 672, 677 (9th Cir. 1990).

A federal prisoner authorized to seek relief under § 2255 may seek relief under § 2241 only if he can show that the remedy available under § 2255 is "inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of his detention." United States v. Pirro, 104 F.3d 297, 299 (9th Cir. 1997) (quoting § 2255). Although there is little guidance from any court on when § 2255 is an inadequate or ineffective remedy, the Ninth Circuit has recognized that the exception is narrow. Id; Moore v. Reno, 185 F.3d 1054, 1055 (9th Cir. 1999) (dismissal of a successive motion pursuant to § 2255 did not render such motion procedure an ineffective or inadequate remedy so as to authorize a federal prisoner to seek habeas relief); Aronson v. May, 85 S.Ct. 3, 5 (1964) (denial of a prior § 2255 motion is insufficient to render § 2255 inadequate); Tripati, 843 F.2d at 1162-63 (9th Cir. 1988) (a petitioner's fears of bias or unequal treatment do not render a § 2255 petition inadequate); see, United States v. Valdez- Pacheco, 237 F.3d 1077 (9th Cir. 2001) (procedural requirements of § 2255 may not be circumvented by filing a petition for writ of audita querela pursuant to the All Writs Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1651).

The burden is on the petitioner to show that the remedy is inadequate or ineffective. Redfield v. United States, 315 F.2d 76, 83 (9th Cir. 1963). If a petitioner proceeding pursuant to § 2241 fails to meet his burden to demonstrate that the § 2255 remedy is inadequate or ineffective, then the § 2241 petition will be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. Ivy v. Pontesso, 328 F.3d 1057, 1061 (9th Cir. 2003).

In this case, Petitioner challenges the underlying conviction and sentence imposed on him because of alleged errors in the pretrial proceedings that resulted in his conviction. Because Petitioner is alleging errors in his conviction and sentence, and not errors in the administration of his sentence, Petitioner is not entitled to relief under § 2241.

Further, Petitioner makes no showing that § 2255 is inadequate or ineffective. Petitioner states that he has missed the time deadline for filing a motion pursuant to § 2255. (Pet., doc. 1, 3.) However, the mere unavailability of a remedy pursuant to § 2255 based on the procedural requirements of such a motion does not demonstrate that the remedy pursuant to § 2255 is inadequate or ineffective. United States v. Garcia, 210 F.3d 1058, 1060 (9th Cir. 2000) (applying the limitations period to federal prisoners); Moore v. Reno, 185 F.3d 1054, 1055 (9th Cir. 1999) (the unavailability of a § 2255 motion due to procedural limitations, such as the prohibition of successive petitions, does not render the § 2255 remedy inadequate or ineffective).

Petitioner alleges generally that he committed no federal crime. Although authority in this circuit is limited, the § 2255 remedy is deemed inadequate and ineffective, and thus a petition pursuant to § 2241 is available, when the petitioner 1) claims to be factually innocent of the crime for which he has been convicted, and 2) has never an "unobstructed procedural shot" at presenting the claim. Stephens v. Herrera, 464 F.3d at 898. A claim of actual innocence for purposes of the "escape hatch" of § 2255 is assessed by the test stated in Bousley v. United States, 523 U.S. 614, 623 (1998), which in turn requires that the petitioner demonstrate that in light of all the evidence, it is more likely than not that no reasonable juror would have convicted him. Stephens, 464 F.3d at 898.

Here, Petitioner has not submitted any information that would tend to show that he was factually innocent of his commitment offenses. Thus, if Petitioner wishes to pursue his claims in federal court, he must do so by way of a motion to vacate or set aside pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255.

The Court concludes that the petition must be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.

III. Certificate of Appealability

Unless a circuit justice or judge issues a certificate of appealability, an appeal may not be taken to the Court of Appeals from the final order in a proceeding under section 2255. 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(1)(B); Hohn v. United States, 524 U.S. 236, 239-40 (1998). Appeal from a proceeding that is nominally undertaken pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, but which is really a successive application under § 2255, requires a certificate of appealability. Porter v. Adams, 244 F.3d 1006, 1007 (9th Cir. 2001).

It appears from the face of Petitioner's § 2241 petition that Petitioner is raising claims attacking only the legality of his sentence, and not the execution of his sentence.

A certificate of appealability may issue only if the applicant makes a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right. § 2253(c)(2). Under this standard, a petitioner must show that reasonable jurists could debate whether the petition should have been resolved in a different manner or that the issues presented were adequate to deserve encouragement to proceed further. Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. at 336 (quoting Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484 (2000)). A certificate should issue if the Petitioner shows that jurists of reason would find it debatable whether the petition states a valid claim of the denial of a constitutional right or that jurists of reason would find it debatable whether the district court was correct in any procedural ruling. Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 483-84 (2000). In determining this issue, a court conducts an overview of the claims in the habeas petition, generally assesses their merits, and determines whether the resolution was debatable among jurists of reason or wrong. Id. It is necessary for an applicant to show more than an absence of frivolity or the existence of mere good faith; however, it is not necessary for an applicant to show that the appeal will succeed. Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. at 338.

A district court must issue or deny a certificate of appealability when it enters a final order adverse to the applicant. Rule 11(a) of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases.

Here, it does not appear that reasonable jurists could debate whether the petition should have been resolved in a different manner. Petitioner has not made a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right. Accordingly, the Court will decline to issue a certificate of appealability.

IV. Disposition

Accordingly, it is ORDERED that:

1) The petition for writ of habeas corpus is DISMISSED for lack of jurisdiction because the petition does not allege grounds that would entitle Petitioner to relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2241; and

2) The Court DECLINES to issue a certificate of appealability; and

3) The Clerk is DIRECTED to close the action because this order terminates the proceeding in its entirety.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

20121228

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