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Chandar A. Snow v. B.A. Bledsoe

September 18, 2012

CHANDAR A. SNOW, PETITIONER,
v.
B.A. BLEDSOE, WARDEN, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: A. Richard Caputo United States District Judge

(JUDGE CAPUTO)

(MAGISTRATE JUDGE BLEWITT)

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the Court is Magistrate Judge Blewitt's Report and Recommendation ("R & R") (Doc. 7) to Petitioner's Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 (Doc. 1) and Petitioner's Motion for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis (Doc. 2). Magistrate Judge Blewitt recommends dismissing Petitioner's Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (Doc. 1) for lack of jurisdiction because a motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 is his proper remedy. Plaintiff filed timely objections to the R & R. Because Plaintiff's claims fall within the purview of § 2255, as they challenge the validity of his stated conviction and sentence, the R & R will be adopted in its entirety and the Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 will be dismissed.

BACKGROUND

Petitioner Chandar A. Snow is a prisoner at United States Penitentiary-Lewisburg in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. He is serving a federal sentence, imposed by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, for: (1) conspiracy and possession of cocaine base (crack) with intent to distribute in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846; and (2) knowingly and intentionally causing the killing of Kinzer Hicks while engaged in a conspiracy to distribute cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846 and 21 U.S.C. § 848(e)(1)(a). (Doc. 1-1 at 8). Snow is currently serving a life sentence for these convictions. On May 11, 2012, Snow filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. (Doc. 1.) His Petition is based on his alleged innocence, double jeopardy issues, and his desire to have his claims adjudicated on the merits. (Id. at 2.) Snow represents that he has previously filed unsuccessful habeas corpus petitions under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. (Id. at 4.)

Magistrate Judge Blewitt reviewed the petition pursuant to Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts.*fn1 Snow argues that his Petition may proceed under Section 2241 because in addition to challenging his conviction and the legality of his detention, he is bringing forth a First Amendment claim to petition the government for redress of his grievances. (Doc. 1 at 2, 4.) He further argues that his Petition should be considered under Section 2241 because it triggers Section 2255's "savings clause" provision allowing him to opt for relief under Section 2241. (Doc. 1 at 4.) The Magistrate Judge determined that neither of these arguments were valid and recommended that the petition be dismissed for a lack of jurisdiction. (Doc. 7.) Snow filed an objection to the R & R on June 8, 2012. (Doc. 8.) Snow's Objections to the R & R are now ripe for review.

DISCUSSION

I. Legal Standard for Reviewing a Report and Recommendation

Where objections to the Magistrate Judge's report are filed, the court must conduct a de novo review of the contested portions of the report, Sample v. Diecks, 885 F.2d 1099, 1106 n.3 (3d Cir. 1989) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(c)), provided the objections are both timely and specific, Goney v. Clark, 749 F.2d 5, 6--7 (3d Cir. 1984). In making its de novo review, the court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the factual findings or legal conclusions of the magistrate judge. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Owens v. Beard, 829 F. Supp. 736, 738 (M.D. Pa. 1993). Although the review is de novo, the statute permits the court to rely on the recommendations of the magistrate judge to the extent it deems proper. See United States v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667, 675--76 (1980); Goney, 749 F.2d at 7; Ball v. United States Parole Comm'n, 849 F. Supp. 328, 330 (M.D. Pa. 1994). Uncontested portions of the report may be reviewed at a standard determined by the district court. See Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 154 (1985); Goney, 749 F.2d at 7. At the very least, the court should review uncontested portions for clear error or manifest injustice. See, e.g., Cruz v. Chater, 990 F. Supp. 375, 376--77 (M.D. Pa. 1998). As such, the Court reviews the portions of the R & R to which the petitioner objects de novo. The remainder of the R & R is reviewed for clear error.

II. Analysis

In pertinent part, Snow objects to Magistrate Judge Blewitt's determination that his Petition cannot proceed as a habeas petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2241.

A. Proceeding Directly Under 28 U.S.C. § 2241

Snow argues that his Petition may proceed directly under Section 2241 because in addition to challenging his conviction and the legality of his detention, he is bringing forth a First Amendment claim to petition the government for redress of his grievances. (Doc. 1 at 2, 4.) While "[m]otions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 are the presumptive means by which federal prisoners can challenge their convictions or sentences that are allegedly in violation of the Constitution," Okereke v. United States, 307 F.3d 117, 120 (3d Cir. 2002), it is true that "federal prisoners challenging some aspect of the execution of their sentence, such as denial of parole, may proceed under Section 2241," Coady v. Vaughn, 251 F.3d 480, 485 (3d Cir. 2001) (emphasis added). "Habeas corpus is the proper remedy if a petition does not attack the federal sentence itself, in which case the petitioner need not file a motion in the sentencing court under 28 U.S.C.A. § 2255, since the remedy by motion is inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of the petitioner's detention." 16A Fed. Proc., L. Ed. § 41:144. Although evaluated on a case-by-case basis, challenges to the execution of a sentence in the Third Circuit are not triggered by "garden variety" adjustments in the ...


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