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Queen v. United States Penitentiary

June 13, 2006

NICHOLAS J. QUEEN, PETITIONER
v.
UNITED STATES PENITENTIARY, RESPONDENT



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Background

Nicholas J. Queen, an inmate presently confined at the United States Penitentiary, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania (USPLewisburg), initiated this pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Along with his petition, Queen has submitted a request for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. For the reasons set forth below, Petitioner's action will be dismissed as a successive petition.

Named as sole Respondent is USP-Lewisburg. Queen's present petition is the latest in a series of similar challenges to the legality of his ongoing federal incarceration. The gist of his claims is that the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) improperly altered his federal sentence. His present action asserts that based on newly discovered evidence, this Court's January 21, 2000 denial of his prior federal habeas corpus petition was improper.*fn1

See Queen v. Romine, Civil No. 3:CV-98-2074, slip op. (M.D. Pa. Jan. 21, 2000)(Conaboy, J.).

Petitioner was sentenced to a two (2) year term of incarceration by a Maryland state court in 1993. Later that same year, he was charged in an eight (8) count federal indictment relating to his participation in armed and unarmed bank robberies. Following a jury trial in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, Queen was found guilty of federal bank robbery charges and sentenced to a five hundred and sixty-two (562) month term of incarceration. See United States v. Queen, 73 F. 3d 359 (D. Md. 1995).

Rather than being returned to the custody of Maryland state officials upon completion of his federal prosecution, the Petitioner was mistakenly transferred to USP-Lewisburg on October 24, 1994 for the purpose of serving his federal sentence. Queen was returned to the custody of the State of Maryland on December 16, 1994 in order to finish service of his previously imposed state sentence. Following completion of his state sentence, Queen was transferred back into federal custody on April 24, 1995.

Queen's present habeas corpus petition again asserts that he is entitled to immediate release on the grounds that his ongoing federal sentence was improperly altered by the BOP when he was returned to Maryland state custody.

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).

Prior to the 1996 amendments, § 2244 authorized dismissal of a successive habeas petition "that presented no new ground not heretofore presented and determined." McCleskey v. Zant, 499 U.S. 467, 483 (1991). § 2244 provided:

(a) No circuit or district judge shall be required to entertain an application for writ of habeas corpus to inquire into the detention of a person pursuant to a judgment of a court of the United States if it appears that the legality of such detention has been determined by a judge or court of the United States on a prior application for writ of habeas corpus and the petition presents no new ground not heretofore presented and determined, and the judge or court is satisfied that the ends of justice will not be served by such inquiry.

The Supreme Court in McCleskey expanded § 2244 to also preclude a person from raising a new claim in a subsequent habeas petition that he could have raised in his first habeas petition:

A petitioner may abuse the writ by failing to raise a claim through inexcusable neglect. Our most recent decisions confirm that a petitioner can abuse the writ by raising a claim in a subsequent petition that he could have raised in his first, regardless of ...


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