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Ramirez v. Williamson

January 25, 2006

MARC RAMIREZ, PETITIONER
v.
TROY WILLIAMSON, RESPONDENT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: (Judge McClure)

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Background

Marc Ramirez ("Petitioner"), an inmate presently confined at the Allenwood Low Security Correctional Institution, White Deer, Pennsylvania ("LSCI-Allenwood"), initiated this pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. The required filing fee was paid on January 23, 2006. For the reasons set forth below, Ramirez's petition will be dismissed without prejudice.

Named as Respondent is LSCI-Allenwood Warden Troy Williamson. Petitioner states that he was convicted of drug related offenses following a 1990 trial in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Ramirez notes that he was tried along with nine (9) co-defendants. Following his conviction, Petitioner was sentenced to a 235 month term of incarceration.

Ramirez claims that his sentence was enhanced by 84 months "for drug quantities, firearms, and a leader/organizer position." Record document no. 1, p. 6. His petition argues that he is entitled to federal habeas corpus relief because the sentence enhancements were based on factors which were not adjudicated by the jury. Ramirez adds that he cannot obtain relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 because his present action is "not based on newly discovered evidence nor a new rule of constitutional law that has been made retroactive to cases on collateral appeal." Id. at p. 1.*fn1

In support of his argument for relief, the petition references the United States Supreme Court's decisions in Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000),*fn2 Blakely v. Washington, 124 S.Ct. 2531 (2004), and its more recent holding in United States v. Booker, 125 S.Ct. 738 (2005). In Blakely, the Court stated that the Sixth Amendment did not permit a sentencing judge to increase a sentence based on facts that were neither reflected in the jury's verdict nor admitted by the defendant. Booker reaffirmed Apprendi adding that the Federal Sentencing Guidelines were not mandates but advisory only. As relief, Ramirez seeks his immediate release and asks that his sentence be vacated and remanded for further proceedings.

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.), cert. denied, 400 U.S. 906 (1970). Accord Love v. Butler, 952 F.2d 10, 15 (1st Cir. 1991). The district courts have "a duty to screen out a habeas corpus petition which should be dismissed for lack of merit on its face." Allen, 424 F.2d at 141.

The usual avenue for federal prisoners seeking to challenge the validity of a federal court conviction or sentence is a § 2255 motion in the sentencing court. In re Dorsainvil, 119 F.3d 245, 249 (3d Cir. 1997). Section 2255 provides in part that "[a]n application for a writ of habeas corpus in behalf of a prisoner who is authorized to apply for relief by motion pursuant to this section, shall not be entertained if it appears that the applicant has failed to apply for relief, by motion to the court which sentenced him, or that such court has denied him relief, unless it also appears that the remedy by motion is inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of his detention." 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (emphasis added).

A § 2255 motion "supersedes habeas corpus and provides the exclusive remedy" to one in custody pursuant to a federal court conviction. Strollo v. Alldredge, 463 F.2d 1194, 1195 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 409 U.S. 1046 (1972). "Section 2241 'is not an additional, alternative or supplemental remedy to 28 U.S.C. § 2255.'" Myers v. Booker, 232 F.3d 902, 2000 WL 1595967, at *1 (10th Cir. Oct. 26, 2000) (citing Bradshaw v. Story, 86 F.3d 164, 166 (10th Cir. 1996)), cert. denied,122 S.Ct. 1951 (2002).

Only if it is shown that a § 2255 motion "is inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of . . . detention," may a federal inmate resort to § 2241 to challenge the validity of the conviction or sentence.

It has long been the rule in this circuit that "the remedy by motion [under § 2255] can be 'inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of . . . detention' only if it can be shown 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."

United States v. Brooks, 230 F.3d 643, 648 (3d Cir. 2000) (citing United States ex rel. Leguillou v. Davis, 212 F.2d 681, 684 (3d Cir. 1954)); see also Application of Galante, 437 F.2d 1164, 1165 (3d Cir. 1971) (per curiam). As noted by the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, a petitioner has the burden to prove that the remedy afforded by ยง 2255 is inadequate or ineffective. Reyes-Requena v. ...


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