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Woodruff v. Lappin


February 7, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Caputo


I. Introduction

Petitioner, Kevin Paul Woodruff, an inmate at the United States Penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, commenced this pro se action in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia ("DC Court") by filing a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Thereafter, the DC Court transferred the case to this Court because Petitioner's custodian is located in the Middle District of Pennsylvania. See Doc. 1-1 at 2, citing Stokes v. U.S. Parole Comm'n, 374 F.3d 1235, 1239 (D.C. Cir. 2004). Petitioner seeks permission to proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. 1-3). Respondent is Federal Bureau of Prisons Director Harley G. Lappin.*fn1 Petitioner, having been convicted of unspecified crime(s) in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California ("Northern District of California"), claims that the Court was without proper jurisdiction and he claims that he is actually innocent of the criminal charges against him.

II. Background

Petitioner states that he was convicted of unspecified crime(s) following a jury trial in the Northern District of California, and on July 14, 1998 he was sentenced to 235 months imprisonment. (Doc. 1-2 at 3.) However, he asserts that the trial court was without proper jurisdiction, and he asserts that he is innocent of the charges against him. Petitioner filed an appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ("Ninth Circuit"), and the Ninth Circuit affirmed his conviction on September 29, 1999. (Id.) Thereafter, Petitioner filed Petitioner filed a motion for relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, which was denied on July 15, 2003. (Id. at 7.) 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. 1970). 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 Davis v. U. S., 417 U.S. 333, 343 (1974); see also 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; 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." Cradle v. U.S., 290 F.3d 536, 538 (3d Cir. 2002) (emphasis added). "Section 2255 is not inadequate or ineffective merely because the sentencing court does not grant relief, the one-year statute of limitations has expired, or the petitioner is unable to meet the stringent gatekeeping requirements of the amended § 2255." Id. at 539. Petitioner has the burden of proving that section 2255 would be an inadequate or ineffective remedy, ReyesRequena 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 has already challenged the trial court's jurisdiction and his conviction in a prior motion under § 2255. (Doc. 1 at 10.) It does not matter whether Petitioner has sought permission to file a further § 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).*fn2 If permission has not been sought, he would be required to do so under § 2244(b)(3)(A).*fn3

At best, Petitioner has only demonstrated a personal inability to utilize the § 2255 remedy a second time, because of the gatekeeping provisions in that section.*fn4 Nothing in the instant petition alters the Court's conclusion that he has failed to establish the inadequacy or ineffectiveness of the remedy. Since section 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.


AND NOW, THIS 7th DAY OF FEBRUARY, 2007, in accordance with the foregoing memorandum,


1. Petitioner's Motion to Proceed in forma pauperis (Doc. 1-3) is GRANTED for the purpose of filing the Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus.

2. The Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus under 28 U.S.C. §2241 (Doc. 1-2) 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).

3. The Clerk of Court is directed to CLOSE this case.

4. There is no basis for the issuance of a certificate of appealability.

A. RICHARD CAPUTO United States District Judge

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