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Parker v. FCI-Schuylkill

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

June 6, 2017

JOHN D. PARKER, Petitioner


          RICHARD P. CONABOY United States District Judge.


         This pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 was filed by John D. Parker, an inmate presently confined at the Schuylkill Federal Correctional Institution, Minersville, Pennsylvania (FCI-Schuylkill). Named as Respondent is the FCI-Schuylkill Warden. The required filing fee has been paid.

         Petitioner states that he pled guilty to two counts of armed bank robbery on December 29, 2008 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. He was thereafter sentenced on June 8, 2009 as a career offender to concurrent 228 month terms of imprisonment.[1]

         According to the petition, Parker's conviction and sentence were affirmed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit on April 20, 2010 following a direct appeal. The appeal argued that Petitioner's career offender sentence was substantively unreasonable, and the sentencing court failed to consider 18 U.S.C. § 3553 factors. See Doc. 1, ¶ 13.

         Parker acknowledges that he also previously filed a petition for relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 with the sentencing court. His petition is described as asserting claims of ineffective assistance of counsel, impermissible enhancement of his prior criminal history score; and violation of the plea agreement by the prosecution because it made a sentencing recommendation. See id., ¶ 3. Parker's § 2255 petition was denied by the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on December 19, 2011. The Petitioner also indicates that his request for issuance of a certificate of appealability was denied. See id.

         Parker further admits that he filed a motion seeking permission to file a successive § 2255 action based upon the United States Supreme Court's decision in Descamps v. United States, 570 U.S.___, 133 S.Ct. 2276 (2013)[2] which was denied by the Third Circuit on October 30, 2014.

         In his pending action, Parker claims that he is entitled to federal habeas corpus relief because he was improperly sentenced as a career offender on the grounds under the standards recently announced in Mathis v. United States, ___U.S.___, 136 S.Ct. 2243 (2016). See id. at ¶ 14. Petitioner contends that the two prior drug convictions which were used as predicate offenses in designating him as a career offender are no longer considered controlled substance offenses under Mathis. Based upon the nature of Petitioner's allegations, his action will be construed as challenging the legality of his federal sentence.


         Standard of Review

         Habeas corpus petitions are subject to summary dismissal pursuant to Rule 4 (“Preliminary Review”) of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts, 28 U.S.C. foll. § 2254 (2004). See, e.g., Mutope v. Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole, 2007 WL 846559 *2 (M.D. Pa. March 19, 2007)(Kosik, J.). The provisions of Rule 4 are applicable to § 2241 petitions under Rule 1(b)). See, e.g., Patton v. Fenton, 491 F.Supp. 156, 158-59 (M.D. Pa. 1979).

         Rule 4 provides in pertinent part: “If it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court, the judge must dismiss the petition and direct the clerk to notify the petitioner.” A petition may be dismissed without review of an answer “when the petition is frivolous, or obviously lacking in merit, or where. . . the necessary facts can be determined from the petition itself. . . .” Gorko v. Holt, 2005 WL 1138479 *1(M.D. Pa. May 13, 2005)(McClure, J.)(quoting Allen v. Perini, 424 F.2d 134, 141 (6th Cir. 1970).

         Habeas corpus review under § 2241 “allows a federal prisoner to challenge the ‘execution' of his sentence.” Woodall v. Federal Bureau of Prisons, 432 F.3d 235, 241 (3d Cir. 2005). A habeas corpus petition may be brought by a prisoner who seeks to challenge either the fact or duration of his confinement in prison. Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475 (1973), Telford v. Hepting, 980 F.2d 745, 748 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 920 (1993). Federal habeas relief is available only “where the deprivation of rights is such that it necessarily impacts the fact or length of detention.” Leamer v. Fauver, 288 F.3d 532, 540 (3d Cir. 2002).

         When challenging the validity of a federal sentence, and not the execution of his sentence, a federal prisoner is generally limited to seeking relief by way of a motion pursuant to § 2255. In re Dorsainvil, 119 F.3d 245, 249 (3d Cir. 1997); Russell v. Martinez, No. 08-3898, 2009 WL 1154194, at *2 (3d Cir. Apr. 30, 2009)(“a section 2255 motion filed in the sentencing court is the presumptive means for a federal prisoner to challenge the validity of a conviction or sentence”) A challenge can only be brought under § 2241 if “it . . . appears that the remedy by [a § 2255] motion is inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of his detention.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e). This language in § 2255, known as the safety-valve clause, must be strictly construed. Dorsainvil, 119 F.3d at 251; Russell, 2009 WL 1154194, at *2 (the safety valve “is ...

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