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Muhammad v. Lamas

United States District Court, Third Circuit

January 28, 2014

BUWLUS A. MUHAMMAD, Petitioner,
v.
MARIROSA LAMAS, et al., Respondents.

OPINION [1]

SUSAN PARADISE BAXTER, Magistrate Judge.

Buwlus A. Muhammad has filed with this Court a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. [ECF No. 1]. He is challenging a federal sentence that he will start serving once he is released from the state sentence that he presently is serving. Federal district courts have a pre-service duty to screen habeas petitions. 28 U.S.C. § 2243. See also Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases (which also applies to § 2241 cases). For the reasons set forth below, the petition is summarily dismissed without service because this Court lacks jurisdiction.

I.

A. Relevant Background

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has summarized the background of Muhammad's federal criminal case as follows:

On March 2, 2004, Muhammad appeared in traffic court in Erie, Pennsylvania where he was found guilty of driving without a license. The following day, he was scheduled to appear in state court on eleven separate charges involving driving with a suspended license. Muhammad's appearance was cancelled, however, because the courthouse closed after five envelopes containing a solid, white powder arrived in the mail. The letters were addressed to three Common Pleas Court Judges and the Erie County District Attorney's Office. Additionally, Erie's City Hall closed after an envelope was delivered to the mayor on the same day. At the time, the substance was believed to be anthrax or some harmful substance. Chemical analysis later revealed that the substance was only baking power.

United States v. Muhammad , 336 F.App'x 188, 190 (3d Cir. 2009).

On July 13, 2005, an indictment lodged in United States v. Muhammad , Docket No. 1:05-cr-35 (W.D. Pa.), charged Muhammad with five counts of violating 18 U.S.C. § 876 for mailing communications "containing a threat to injure the person of the addressee or of another, specifically an envelope containing a white powder substance" to the three Common Pleas Court Judges (Counts One, Two, and Five); "Mayor R. Filliphy" (addressed to the Mayor's Office in Erie, Pennsylvania) (Count Three); and, "Atty. Brad Folk" (addressed to the Eire County District Attorney's Office) (Count Four). See ECF No. 2 in United States v. Muhammad , Docket No. 1:05-cr-35. At the time, Richard E. Filippi was the Mayor of the City of Erie, and Bradley H. Foulk was the District Attorney.

On August 20, 2007, a jury convicted Muhammad of all five counts. The Honorable Maurice B. Cohill presided over his case. On December 5, 2007, Judge Cohill sentenced Muhammad to a term of imprisonment of 175 months, to be served consecutive to the term of imprisonment imposed upon him by the Court of Common Pleas of Erie County at Commonwealth v. Muhammad, Docket No. CP-25-CR-232-2007.[2]

In his direct appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals to the Third Circuit, Muhammad raised the following claims:

1. Whether the district court abused its discretion in denying his motion for a mistrial in response to the conduct of one juror;
2. Whether his indictment and conviction violated the Ex Post Facto Clause or Due Process Clause;
3. Whether the prosecuting attorney engaged in misconduct before the grand jury;
4. There was insufficient evidence to establish that he knowingly deposited the threatening communication;
5. There was insufficient evidence to prove that a threat was made;
6. The prosecuting attorney engaged in misconduct in his closing argument;
7. The judge engaged in misconduct that prejudiced Muhammad;
8. The district court abused its discretion when it permitted ...

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