United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
RICHARD P. CONABOY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Mark Nixon, Jr. (Petitioner) an inmate presently confined at
the Canaan United States Penitentiary, Waymart, Pennsylvania
(USP-Canaan) filed this pro se petition for writ of
habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Named as
Respondent is USP-Canaan Warden J. Baltazar. Petitioner's
request to proceed in forma pauperis will
be granted for the sole purpose of the filing of this action
with this Court.
states that he entered a guilty plea to a charge of
possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking
offense in the United States District Court for the Middle
District of Florida. As a result of his plea, Petitioner was
sentenced to a 188 month term of imprisonment on October 31,
2013. See Doc. 1, ¶¶ 2-3.
to the petition, Nixon did not pursue a direct appeal. The
Petitioner does acknowledge that he previously sought relief
from the sentencing court via motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255. See Doc. 1, ¶ 11.
a prior request by Petitioner to file a successive §
2255 motion seeking relief under Johnson v. United
States 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015) and Welch v. United
States, 136 S.Ct. 1257 (2016) was denied because it was
determined that Johnson was not applicable to
Nixon's case. See Doc. 1, p. 71.
pending action, Petitioner claims entitlement to federal
habeas corpus relief under two decisions by the United States
Supreme Court, Burraae v. United States, 134 S.Ct.
881 (2014) and McFadden v. United States, 135 S.Ct.
2298 (2015) . See Doc. 1, ¶ 12. Both cases were
decided after the imposition of Nixon's sentence.
Specifically, Nixon contends that under the principles
announced in Burraae and McFadden, he is
actually innocent because his guilty plea was involuntary and
unintelligent and the result of ineffective assistance of
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. foil. § 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).
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, Civ. No. 4:05-cv-956, 2005 WL 1138479
*1(M.D. Pa. May 13, 2005)(McClure, J.)(quoting Allen v.
Perini, 424 F.2d 134, 141 (6th Cir. 1970).
Nixon initiated his action before this Court, he is
apparently arguing that he may bring his present claims via a
federal habeas corpus petition and that this Court has
jurisdiction over his § 2241 action by virtue of his
ongoing detention at USP-Canaan.
federal prisoner challenging the validity of a federal guilty
plea and sentence, and not the execution of his sentence, 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").
Such 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 extremely narrow and has been held to apply in
unusual situations, such as those in which a prisoner has had
no prior opportunity to challenge his conviction for a crime
later deemed to be non-criminal by an intervening change in
is the inefficacy of the remedy, not the personal inability
to use it, that is determinative." Cradle v. United
States, 290 F.3d 536, 538 (3d Cir. 2002). "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." ...