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Crosby v. Warden

June 9, 2009

JEFFREY ROY CROSBY, PETITIONER
v.
WARDEN, USP CANAAN, RESPONDENT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Rambo

MEMORANDUM

Before the court is a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, filed by Petitioner Jeffrey Roy Crosby ("Crosby"), an inmate currently incarcerated at the United States Penitentiary at Canaan in Waymart, Pennsylvania. (Doc. 1.) Crosby is challenging his conviction by raising actual innocence and miscarriage of justice claims. For the reasons that follow, the petition will be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.

I. Background

On July 26, 1996, Crosby was convicted on two counts of solicitation to murder a federal probation officer in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 373 and 1114 in the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina. (Doc. 6 at 2.) On August 29, 1996, Crosby was sentenced on both counts to a term of imprisonment of 365 months. (Doc. 1 at 18.) On August 30, 1996, Crosby filed a direct appeal. (Id.)

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit denied relief on all grounds and affirmed his conviction and sentence on April 2, 1998. United States v. Crosby, No. 96-4688, 1998 WL 165788 (4th Cir. 1998 Apr. 12, 1998). On November 9, 1998, the United States Supreme Court denied certiorari. (Doc. 1 at 19.)

On June 9, 1999, in the District Court for the District of South Carolina, Crosby filed a pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, which was subsequently denied. (Id.) On March 13, 2001, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals denied Crosby's application for a certificate of appealability. (Id.)

On February 20, 2004, Crosby filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 2241 and 2243 in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, raising actual innocence and miscarriage of justice claims, the same claims raised in the instant proceeding. (Doc. 6-2.) The petition was construed as a § 2255 motion and transferred to the District of South Carolina. (Id.) The South Carolina district court subsequently dismissed the petition as a second or successive § 2255 motion. (Id.)

On January 25, 2006, Crosby filed, in the District Court for the District of South Carolina, an independent action to reopen and reconsider the § 2255 motion, alleging fraud by an officer of the court. (Doc. 1 at 19.) The motion was opposed by the government and subsequently dismissed as a second or successive § 2255 motion by the district court. (Id.) The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals denied a certificate of appealability. (Id.)

In November 2007, Crosby filed another petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York. (Id. at 20.) The district court denied the petition on December 15, 2008, and Crosby's appeal is presently pending. (Id.)

Crosby filed the instant petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 on April 21, 2009. (Doc. 1.) On April 28, 2009, an order to show cause was issued, directing the respondent to reply to Crosby's petition. (Doc. 5.) The matter is now ripe for disposition.

II. Discussion

"[T]he usual avenue for federal prisoners seeking to challenge the legality of their confinement," including a challenge to the validity of a conviction or to a sentence, is a motion filed under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. In re Dorsainvil, 119 F.3d 245, 249 (3d Cir. 1997). See also United States v. Miller, 197 F.3d 644, 648 n.2 (3d Cir. 1999) (stating § 2255 provides federal prisoners a means by which to bring collateral attacks challenging the validity of their judgment and sentence); Snead v. Warden, F.C.I. Allenwood, 110 F. Supp. 2d 350, 352 (M.D. Pa. 2000) (stating challenges to a federal sentence should be brought in a § 2255 motion). The § 2255 motion must be filed in the district court where the defendant was convicted and sentenced. See 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a) (the motion must be filed in "the court which imposed the sentence").

A defendant can pursue a § 2241 petition only when he shows that the remedy under § 2255 would be "inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of his detention." 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e); see also United States v. Brooks, 230 F.3d 643, 647 (3d Cir. 2000) (recognizing availability of § 2241 in cases where petitioners have no other means of having claims heard). The inadequacy or ineffectiveness must be "a limitation of scope or procedure... prevent[ing] a § 2255 proceeding from affording... a full hearing and adjudication of [a] wrongful detention claim." Okereke v. United States, 307 F.3d 117, 120 (3d Cir. 2002) (citing Cradle v. United States, 290 F.3d 536, 538 (3d Cir. 2002) (per curiam)). "It is the inefficacy of the remedy, not the personal inability to use it, that is determinative." Cradle, 290 F.3d at 538-39 (citing Garris v. Lindsay, 794 F.2d 722, 727 (D.C. Cir. 1986)). Hence, "[s]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." Cradle, 290 F.3d at 539. If a petitioner improperly challenges a federal conviction or sentence under section 2241, the petition must be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. Application of Galante, 437 F.2d 1164, 1165 (3d Cir. 1971).

In the instant case, Crosby has not demonstrated that the remedy under § 2255 would be inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of his detention. First, the dismissals of his previous § 2255 motions do not make the § 2255 remedy inadequate or ineffective. Further, the fact that Crosby's present circumstances preclude him from invoking the remedy available to him under § 2255 does not demonstrate the inadequacy or inefficacy of the remedy itself. See Cradle, 290 F.3d at 538 ("It is the inefficacy of the remedy, not the personal inability to use it, that is ...


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