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May v. Quintana


September 15, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Magistrate Judge Susan Paradise Baxter


Petitioner Terrance Chancy May, formerly a federal prisoner incarcerated at the McKean Federal Correctional Institution in Bradford, Pennsylvania, brought the instant petition for writ of habeas corpus, seeking immediate placement into a Residential Re-entry Center. Petitioner filed the instant petition on October 14, 2008, and has since been released from the custody of the Bureau of Prisons. Petitioner's claim for habeas relief is now moot and will be dismissed.

A prisoner may seek federal habeas relief only if he is in custody in violation of the constitution or federal law. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a); Smith v. Phillips, 455 U.S. 209 (1982); Geschwendt v. Ryan, 967 F.2d 877 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 506 U.S. 977 (1992); Zettlemoyer v. Fulcomer, 923 F.2d 284 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 502 U.S. 902 (1991). The purpose of a writ of habeas corpus is to challenge the legal authority under which a prisoner is held in custody. Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994); Allen v. McCurry, 449 U.S. 90 (1980) (the unique purpose of habeas corpus is to release the applicant for the writ from unlawful confinement); Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539 (1974) (basic purpose of the writ is to enable those unlawfully incarcerated to obtain their freedom); Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475 (1973); United States v. Hollis, 569 F.2d 199, 205 (3d Cir. 1977). The writ supplies the mechanism by which prisoners may challenge the length of their custodial term. Fields v. Keohane, 954 F.2d 945, 949 (3d Cir. 1992); Barden v. Keohane, 921 F.2d 476 (3d Cir. 1991). The remedy is to free an inmate from unlawful custody.

Generally, a petition for habeas corpus relief becomes moot when a prisoner is released from custody before the court has addressed the merits of the petition. Lane v. Williams, 455 U.S. 624 (1982). The general principle derives from the case or controversy requirement of Article III of the U.S. Constitution. "This case-or-controversy requirement subsists through all stages of federal judicial proceedings, trial and appellate ... the parties must continue to have a personal stake in the outcome of the lawsuit." Lewis v. Continental Bank Corp., 494 U.S. 472, 477-78 (1990). In other words, "throughout the litigation, the plaintiff must have suffered, or be threatened with, an actual injury traceable to the defendant and likely to be redressed by a favorable judicial decision." Id. at 477. See alsoMaleng v. Cook, 490 U.S. 488, 491-492 (1989)(habeas petitioner does not remain "in custody" under conviction after the sentence imposed has fully expired merely because of possibility that prior conviction will be used to enhance sentences imposed for any subsequent crimes of which he is convicted); United States v. Romera-Vilca, 850 F.2d 177, 179 (3d Cir. 1988) (prisoner's motion to vacate his conviction was not mooted when he was released from custody, where he faced potential deportation as a collateral consequence of conviction).*fn2

Since the filing of this petition, Petitioner has been released from federal custody. In these circumstances, no live controversy remains. Thus, Petitioner's claim for relief will be dismissed as moot.*fn3

An appropriate Order follows.


AND NOW, this 15th day of September, 2009;

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the petition for writ of habeas corpus be dismissed as moot. The Clerk of Courts is directed to close this case.

SUSAN PARADISE BAXTER United States Magistrate Judge

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