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Simmons v. Zuniga

United States District Court, E.D. California

April 6, 2015

CORNELIUS SIMMONS, Petitioner,
v.
RAFAEL ZUNIGA, Respondent.

ORDER REGARDING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS

GARY S. AUSTIN, Magistrate Judge.

Petitioner is a federal prisoner proceeding pro se with a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Petitioner has consented to the jurisdiction of the magistrate judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c).

I.

BACKGROUND

Petitioner is presently incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution in Mendota, California. In the instant petition filed on February 27, 2015, Petitioner challenges his 2010 conviction and sentence in United States District Court for the District of South Carolina for possession of crack/cocaine base with the intent to distribute. (Pet., ECF No. 1). It appears that Petitioner was sentenced under the Controlled Substances Act. (Pet. at 2-4).

II.

DISCUSSION

A federal court may not entertain an action over which it has no jurisdiction. Hernandez v. Campbell, 204 F.3d 861, 865 (9th Cir. 2000). A federal prisoner who wishes to challenge the validity or constitutionality of his federal conviction or sentence must do so by way of a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct the sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Tripati v. Henman, 843 F.2d 1160, 1162 (9th Cir. 1988); see also Stephens v. Herrera, 464 F.3d 895, 897 (9th Cir. 2006), cert. denied, 549 U.S. 1313 (2007); Thompson v. Smith, 719 F.2d 938, 940 (8th Cir. 1983)=; In re Dorsainvil, 119 F.3d 245, 249 (3rd Cir. 1997); Broussard v. Lippman, 643 F.2d 1131, 1134 (5th Cir. 1981). In such cases, only the sentencing court has jurisdiction. Tripati, 843 F.2d at 1163. In general, 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. Grady v. United States, 929 F.2d 468, 470 (9th Cir.1991); Tripati, 843 F.2d at 1162; see also United States v. Flores, 616 F.2d 840, 842 (5th Cir.1980).

In contrast, a 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 in the district where the petitioner is in custody. See Stephens, 464 F.3d at 897; Hernandez v. Campbell, 204 F.3d 861, 864-65 (9th Cir.2000) (per curiam); Brown v. United States, 610 F.2d 672, 677 (9th Cir. 1990); Capaldi v. Pontesso, 135 F.3d 1122, 1123 (6th Cir. 1998); United States v. Tubwell, 37 F.3d 175, 177 (5th Cir. 1994); Kingsley v. Bureau of Prisons, 937 F.2d 26, 30 n.5 (2nd Cir. 1991); United States v. Jalili, 925 F.2d 889, 893-94 (6th Cir. 1991); Barden v. Keohane, 921 F.2d 476, 478-79 (3rd Cir. 1991); United States v. Hutchings, 835 F.2d 185, 186-87 (8th Cir. 1987).

"The general rule is that a motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 is the exclusive means by which a federal prisoner may test the legality of his detention, and that restrictions on the availability of a § 2255 motion cannot be avoided through a petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2241." Stephens, 464 F.3d at 897 (citations omitted). Therefore, the proper vehicle for challenging a conviction is a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct the sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255.

Nevertheless, a "savings clause" exists in § 2255(e) by which a federal prisoner may seek relief under § 2241 if he can demonstrate the remedy available under § 2255 to be "inadequate or ineffective to test the validity of his detention." United States v. Pirro, 104 F.3d 297, 299 (9th Cir. 1997) (quoting § 2255); see Hernandez, 204 F.3d at 864-65. The Ninth Circuit has recognized that it is a very narrow exception. See Ivy v. Pontesso, 328 F.3d 1057, 59 (9th Cir.) (as amended), cert. denied, 540 U.S. 1051 (2003). The remedy under § 2255 usually will not be deemed inadequate or ineffective merely because a prior § 2255 motion was denied, or because a remedy under that section is procedurally barred. See Aronson v. May, 85 S.Ct. 3, 5 (1964) (finding that a prior § 2255 motion is insufficient to render § 2255 inadequate); Tripati, 843 F.2d at 1162-63 (holding that a petitioner's fears of bias or unequal treatment do not render a § 2255 petition inadequate); Williams v. Heritage, 250 F.2d 390 (9th Cir. 1957); Hildebrandt v. Swope, 229 F.2d 582 (9th Cir. 1956).

The Ninth Circuit has acknowledged that petitioners may proceed under Section 2241 pursuant to the "savings clause, " when the petitioner claims to be: "(1) factually innocent of the crime for which he has been convicted; and, (2) has never had an unobstructed procedural shot' at presenting this claim." Ivy, 328 F.3d at 1059-60 (citing Lorentsen v. Hood, 223 F.3d 950, 954 (9th Cir.2000)); see also Stephens, 464 F.3d at 898. In explaining that standard, the Ninth Circuit stated:

In other words, it is not enough that the petitioner is presently barred from raising his claim of innocence by motion under § 2255. He must never have had the opportunity to raise it by motion.

Ivy, 328 F.3d at 1060. The burden is on the petitioner to show that the remedy is inadequate or ineffective. Redfield v. United ...


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