The opinion of the court was delivered by: McCLURE, District Judge.
On December 29, 1999, petitioner Samuel O. Koch, then an inmate
at the State Correctional Institution at Waymart, Wayne County,
Pennsylvania, commenced this action with the filing of a petition
for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to (according to at least
one of the documents filed) 28 U.S.C. § 2241. As will be
discussed below, the allegations of the petition are not precise,
but the crux of the claim is Koch's desire to prevent his
incarceration at the Schuylkill County Prison because he has not
received adequate medical treatment at that facility in the past.
In 1996, Congress passed the Antiterrorism and Effective Death
Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), Pub.L. No. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214
(1996), which the President signed into law on April 24, 1996.
AEDPA made sweeping changes to significant areas of the law,
see, e.g., AEDPA Title I (Habeas Corpus Reform); Title IV
(Terrorist and Criminal Alien Removal and Exclusion),*fn1 and
the courts have been attempting to deal with the fallout, in the
form of litigation, ever since.
In adapting to AEDPA, the courts at times have themselves made
procedural changes. An example is the Second Circuit's decision
in Adams v. United States, 155 F.3d 582 (1998) (per curiam),
holding that a district court should provide certain prophylactic
warnings to a movant under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 before construing an
inartfully pled motion or petition by a pro se litigant as a
proper § 2255 motion. That holding was adopted as the law of this
circuit in United States v. Miller, 197 F.3d 644 (3d Cir.
1999), and was expanded to cover petitions by state prisoners for
writs of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 in Mason v.
Meyers, 208 F.3d 414
(3d Cir. 2000). As the Third Circuit explained in Miller, this
action is necessary to protect a convicted person's right to
present all of his or her claims to a federal court, a right
which may be waived or forfeited inadvertently due to AEDPA's
stringent limitations on time and successive motions or
petitions. However, it also entails ending the practice of
construing such motions or petitions liberally when they are
filed pro se because that action, formerly favorable to the
pro se litigant, now may have a seriously detrimental effect.
Miller at 649.
While it may be that the practice of having trial judges
educate litigants, pro se or otherwise, may be questioned, the
Third Circuit apparently felt that these questions are outweighed
by the potential unfairness and hardship which might otherwise
result, and therefore determined that pro se movants under §
2255 and pro se petitioners under § 2254 are entitled to the
notice described in further detail below. Also, any paper filed
by a litigant which appears to be a motion, petition, or other
pleading which should be read as a § 2255 motion or a § 2254
petition is entitled to notice that his or her pleading may be
re-characterized before any action is taken.
As with AEDPA, however, the creation of this rule (in this
district denominated "Miller notice," but presumably called
"Adams notice" in the Second Circuit) has unintended
consequences, of which this case is but one example. The problem
here is that Koch filed a petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 which
properly would be a § 2254 petition because he is a state
prisoner, but actually should be a complaint under
42 U.S.C. § 1983 because he seeks injunctive, not habeas, relief. The
question is whether a prisoner in this situation is entitled to
Miller notice, and the permutations which arise from the
potential actions by the court are rather confusing.
The petition filed by Koch consists of three documents. The
first is captioned, "Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus,"
followed by a large black mark covering language on what appears
to be a pre-printed form. The form therefore appears to be either
a standard form of petition or a document from other litigation
being used for these purposes. The first line of this document
states that the request for a writ of habeas corpus is made
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(5), which authorizes writs of
habeas corpus ad testificandum and ad prosequendum.*fn2 In
that document, Koch requests that the warden of SCI-Waymart be
required to produce him for trial.
The second document filed by Koch appears to be a form order
granting the relief requested in the first document.*fn3
The third document is denominated "Petition for Writ of Habeas
Corpus" and appears to be the actual pleading in the matter. The
first two paragraphs are merely standard jury charges concerning
consideration of the case as a matter between persons of equal
standing and evidence by law enforcement personnel (adapted in
this case to prison officials). The third paragraph is a standard
jury instruction concerning the Eighth Amendment. These
paragraphs have no substantive bearing on the merits of the
petition for present purposes.
After a statement that "I will now define each element for
you:" (again, apparently a jury instruction), Koch sets forth his
factual allegations. They are as follows:
Koch, designated "Plaintiff" in the petition, will be returning
to the Schuylkill County Prison to serve 18 months of
incarceration as a result of a parole violation. At the time the
petition was filed, Koch was incarcerated at SCI-Waymart, with a
release date of April 11, 2000, which would be the expiration of
his maximum sentence.
In October, 1994, Koch was incarcerated at the Schuylkill
County Prison and suffered a fractured rib. The doctor who saw
Koch diagnosed the injury as a rib contusion or bruise. Koch was
discharged after 39 days and was examined immediately at the
Pottsville Hospital and Warne Clinic. An x-ray revealed "a
partially healing nondisplaced fracture of the left tenth rib
posterolaterally associated with slight callus formation bridging
the fracture site." Petition at 2 ¶ 4. No x-ray was taken at the
Prison. Although the rib healed, Koch was forced to suffer
extreme discomfort and was not provided a wrap to immobilize the
rib, causing a risk of further serious injury.
No date is provided for a second incident alleged by Koch.*fn4
He complained to an unnamed person that he was not feeling well
and asked to be taken to the hospital. He was told that the only
way he would be leaving was in a body bag. Koch's condition
worsened and he asked again to be taken to the hospital. He was
told to stop crying about the matter. Koch then called his
brother, who posted bail to take Koch to the Pottsville Hospital,
where he was diagnosed with pneumonia.
According to Koch, his medical records would reflect these
At the time the petition was filed, Koch was to begin
undergoing interferon injections for hepatitis at SCI-Waymart. He
claims that a return to the Schuylkill County Prison would be
detrimental to his health based on his prior experiences. Also,
Koch has newspaper clippings which show that the Prison is having
other, unspecified "problems" which warrant issuance of a
temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to bar
his return to the Prison.
In his ad damnum clause, Koch seeks only a hearing and a
temporary restraining order and/or a preliminary injunction. Koch
nowhere alleges that any conviction or the parole ...