United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
Matthew W. Brann United States District Judge
Ravon Ruffin, an inmate presently confined at the Allenwood
United States Penitentiary, White Deer, Pennsylvania
(USP-Allenwood) filed this pro se habeas corpus
petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Named as
Respondent is the United States of America. The required
filing fee has been paid.
entered a guilty plea on June 11, 2007 in the United States
District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina to
possession with intent to distribute more than 5 grams of
cocaine base and using and carrying a firearm during and in
relation to a drug trafficking crime. Following his plea,
Ruffin was sentenced to a seventy-eight (322) month term of
imprisonment on April 15, 2009. See Doc. 3, p. 21.
was a delay in sentencing because Ruffin absconded following
his plea. During that period Ruffin committed additional
crimes. Specifically, following a 2009 jury trial in the
United States District Court for the Middle District of North
Carolina, Ruffin was convicted of armed bank robbery and
related crimes. He was sentenced on December 9, 2010 to a
consecutive 415 month term of imprisonment. The conviction
was affirmed on direct appeal. See United States v.
Ruffin, 494 Fed.Appx. 306, 307 (4th Cir.
2012). Ruffin's petition for writ of certiorari was
thereafter denied. See Ruffin v. United States, 568
U.S. 1185 (2013).
pending action, Ruffin claims that he is entitled to federal
habeas corpus because an Assistant United States Attorney who
participated in his prosecution in the Middle District of
North Carolina was not authorized at that time to practice
law and this prosecutor also allegedly destroyed exculpatory
evidence. Petitioner previously raised his claims via his
direct appeal. See Ruffin, 494 Fed.Appx. at 307. He
also pursued the same arguments pursuant a motion with the
sentencing court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 which was
denied. See Ruffin v. United States, Civ.
No. 1:14-cv-87, 2016 WL 8999241 (M.D. N.C. Sept. 9, 2016).
The denial of § 2255 relief was affirmed. See United
States v. Ruffin, 691 Fed.Appx. 80 (4th Cir.
May 31, 2017).
Standard of Review
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).
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).
he initiated his action before this Court, Ruffin is
apparently arguing that he may bring his present claims of an
unconstitutional prosecution via a § 2241 petition.
Ruffin is presumably asserting that this Court has
jurisdiction over his § 2241 action by virtue of his
ongoing detention at USP-Allenwood.
federal prisoner challenging the validity of a federal
conviction and sentence and not its execution, 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, 325
Fed.Appx. 45, 47 (3d Cir. 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, 325 Fed.Appx. at 47 (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 the law”).
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 ...