United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
December 15, 2005.
STEVEN LEATH, Petitioner,
RONNIE HOLT, Warden, Respondent.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: A. CAPUTO, District Judge
Petitioner, Steven Leath, an inmate confined at the Schuylkill
Federal Correctional Institution ("FCI-Schuylkill") in
Minersville, Pennsylvania, commenced this pro se action with a
petition for writ of habeas corpus filed pursuant to the
provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Petitioner contemporaneously
filed a motion to exceed the page limitaitons for his petition
(Doc. 2). Named as Respondent is FCI-Schuylkill Warden Ronnie
Holt. Petitioner is challenging his sentence imposed by the
United States District Court for the Eastern District of
Pennsylvania ("Eastern District of Pennsylvania"), alleging that:
(1) the sentencing court lacked jurisdiction, (2) the sentencing
court improperly relied upon the pre-sentence investigation
report (PSI), and (3) he is entitled to a new sentencing in light
of recent Supreme Court decisions.
On February 25, 1994, Petitioner was convicted in the Eastern
District of Pennsylvania for narcotics charges, and he was
sentenced on June 6, 1994. (Doc. 1 at 10-11.) The instant
petition ensued. For the reasons that follow, the Court finds
that § 2241 relief is unavailable to Petitioner, and will
summarily dismiss the petition. III. Discussion
Habeas corpus petitions brought under § 2241 are subject to
summary dismissal pursuant to Rule 4 ("Preliminary Consideration
by the Judge") of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the
United States District Courts, 28 U.S.C. foll. § 2254 (1977)
(applicable to § 2241 petitions under Rule 1(b)). See, e.g.,
Patton v. Fenton, 491 F. Supp. 156, 158-59 (M.D. Pa. 1979). Rule
4 provides in pertinent part: "If it plainly appears from the
face of the petition and any exhibits annexed to it that the
petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court, the
judge shall make an order for its summary dismissal and cause the
petitioner to be notified." A petition may be dismissed without
review of an answer "when the petition is frivolous, or obviously
lacking in merit, or where . . . the necessary facts can be
determined from the petition itself. . . ." Allen v. Perini,
424 F.2d 134, 141 (6th Cir.) Accord U.S. ex rel. DeCreti v.
Wilson, 967 F.Supp. 303 (N.D.Ill. 1997). The Allen court also
stated that "the District Court has a duty to screen out a habeas
corpus petition which should be dismissed for lack of merit on
its face." 424 F.2d at 141.
Generally, a challenge to the validity of a federal conviction
or sentence must be brought in a § 2255 motion. See United
States v. Miller, 197 F.3d 644, 648 n. 2 (3d Cir. 1999). Thus,
the Petitioner's proper avenue of relief is a section 2255
motion, filed in the district court where he was convicted, see
United States v. Hatcher, 76 F. Supp. 2d 604 (E.D. Pa. 1999),
unless the Petitioner can show that the remedy under section 2255
would be "inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of his
detention." 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (West Supp. 2000); see also United
States v. Brooks, 230 F.3d 643, 647 (3d Cir. 2000).
The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has stated that such
inadequacy or ineffectiveness is present, thereby allowing a §
2241 petition to substitute for a § 2255 motion, only where it is established "`that some limitation of
scope or procedure would prevent a Section 2255 proceeding from
affording the prisoner a full hearing and adjudication of his
claim of wrongful detention.'" Brooks, supra, 230 F.3d at 648
(quoting United States ex rel. Leguillou v. Davis,
212 F.2d 681, 684 (3d Cir. 1954)). "It is the inefficacy of the remedy,
not a personal inability to utilize it, that is
determinative. . . ." Garris v. Lindsay, 794 F.2d 722, 727 (D.C.
Cir. 1986) (emphasis added). Petitioner has the burden of proving
that section 2255 would be an inadequate or ineffective remedy,
Reyes-Requena v. United States, 243 F.3d 893, 901 (5th Cir.
2001) (citing Pack v. Yusuff, 218 F.3d 448, 452 (5th Cir.
2000)), and section 2241 should not be used as a way of evading
the gatekeeping provisions of section 2255. In re Dorsainvil,
119 F.3d 245, 251 (3d Cir. 1997). Petitioner does not contend
that § 2255 is inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of
his detention, and he does not address the basis for proceeding
under § 2241.
Regardless, it does not matter whether Petitioner has sought
permission to file a § 2255 motion, and was denied, or he is
simply assuming his inability to file a successive § 2255 motion
from the specific language of the Code. In either event, § 2255
is not inadequate or ineffective merely because he is unable to
meet the gatekeeping requirements of the section. Dorsainvil,
119 F.3d at 251. If he has sought such permission, and been
denied, then the Court must dismiss the present petition under
28 U.S.C. § 2244(a).*fn1 If permission had not been sought, he
would be required to do so under § 2244(b)(3)(A).*fn2
Nothing in the instant petition alters the Court's conclusion
that Petitioner has failed to establish the inadequacy or
ineffectiveness of the § 2255 remedy. Since § 2255 is not
inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of Petitioner's
detention or sentence, the Court will dismiss this 2241 petition
under Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the
United States District Courts. An appropriate order follows. ORDER
AND NOW, THIS 15th DAY OF DECEMBER, 2005, in accordance with
the foregoing memorandum, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT:
1. The petition for writ of habeas corpus under
28 U.S.C. § 2241 (Doc. 1) is DISMISSED without
prejudice to any right Petitioner may have to move
the appropriate court of appeals for an order
authorizing the district court to consider a
successive § 2255 motion pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(3)(A).
2. Petitioner's motion to exceed the page limitations
(Doc. 2) for his habeas petition is DENIED as moot.
3. The Clerk of Court is directed to CLOSE this
4. There is no basis for the issuance of a
certificate of appealability.
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