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Gutierrez v. Qunja

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA


December 11, 2008

PEDRO GUTIERREZ PETITIONER
v.
WARDEN QUNJA RESPONDENT

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Golden, J.

MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

Before the Court is the Respondent's "Motion to Dismiss or Transfer [the Petitioner's] Request or Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus" ("the Motion"). (Doc. No. 2.) On June 20, 2008, the Petitioner filed a petition captioned "Request for an order requiring the Bureau of Prisons to award a 2-day credit for every day served in the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center [NEOCC]" as relief under Title 28 of the U.S. Code (the "Petition").*fn1 (Doc. No. 1.1) The Petitioner complains that the conditions at NEOCC border "on cruel and unusual punishment" and have "caused [the Petitioner] to serve a more onerous period of incarceration than that which was contemplated by the sentencing court." (Pet. 1.) The Respondent moved the Court to either dismiss the Petition without prejudice or transfer the Petition to United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. The Petitioner did not respond to the Respondent's Motion.*fn2 For the following reasons, the Court will grant the Motion in so far as it seeks to transfer the Petition to United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.

The Petitioner alleges that during his incarceration at NEOCC, while he was awaiting transfer to another facility, he was subjected to "gross overcrowding," which led to "an unsatisfying," "unhealthy," and "inappropriate domain," along with exposure to members of the general population who should be segregated due to their "dangerous and contagious medical conditions." (Pet. ¶¶ 1-2.) The Petitioner also alleges that he was subjected to "serious and unwarranted discomfort" based on a lack of "contact visits" and the small inventory of prison commissary. (Pet. ¶ 4.)

The Respondent characterizes the Petition as a petition for writ of habeas corpus under Section 2241 of Title 28.*fn3 Specifically, the Respondent observes that the Petitioner's challenge "essentially is to the conditions and place of incarceration, and therefore should be brought in a habeas petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241." (Br. 3.II.) There are three factors that weigh in favor of the Respondent's characterization of the Petition.*fn4 First, the Petitioner named a proper respondent to a habeas petition--his warden. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 2242-43; Rumsfeld v. Padilla, 542 U.S. 426, 434-35 (2004) ("The federal habeas statute straightforwardly provides that the proper respondent to a habeas petition is'the person who has custody over [the petitioner].'"). Second, in his Petition, the Petitioner references Title 28, which contains the habeas statutes. Third, the relief sought by the Petitioner would have the net effect of releasing him from custody at an earlier date. See Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 484-87 (noting that the traditional function of the writ is to secure release from illegal custody whether the release was immediate or hastened by a shortening of the length of a petitioner's actual confinement).

So characterized, the Petition must be transferred to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio because the Court lacks jurisdiction. Section 1631 of Title 28 authorizes the Court to transfer the Petition for want of jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. 1631; Drakoulis v. Ashcroft, 356 F. Supp. 2d 367, 370-71 (S.D.N.Y. 2005) (transferring case from district of filing to district of confinement). "A district court's habeas corpus jurisdiction is territorially limited and extends only to persons detained and custodial officials acting within the boundaries of that district." Yi v. Maugans, 24 F.3d 500, 503 (3d Cir. 1994); see also Braden v. 30th Judicial Circuit Court, 410 U.S. 484, 493-95 (1973) (holding that habeas jurisdiction is proper where court issuing writ has jurisdiction over custodian); 28 U.S.C. § 2241(a) ("Writs of habeas corpus may be granted by... the district courts... within their respective jurisdictions."). The Petitioner is, or at least was, detained in a facility that is located in the Northern District of Ohio. The Petitioner's custodian, the Respondent, is also located in the Northern District of Ohio. The Court sits in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. As a result, the Court lacks jurisdiction, and the Petition must be transferred.

An appropriate Order follows.

ORDER

AND NOW, this 11th day of December, 2008, it is hereby ORDERED that the Respondent's "Motion to Dismiss or Transfer [the Petitioner's] Request or Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus" (Doc. No. 2) is GRANTED to the extent that it seeks the transfer of the Petitioner's filing and DENIED to the extent that it seeks dismissal of the Petitioner's filing.

It is further ORDERED that the Clerk of Court transfer the Petitioner's filing (Doc. No. 1) to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.

THOMAS M. GOLDEN, J.


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