United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
MATTHEW W. BRANN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Valentine, 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 USP-Allenwood Warden Spaulding. The required
filing fee has been paid.
states that he is presently serving a sentence which was
imposed by the United States District Court for the Southern
District of New York. See Doc. 1, ¶ 10.
Valentine indicates that his sentence was enhanced because it
was determined that he was a career offender. He admits that
he previously filed a motion with the sentencing court
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 which was denied on
November 10, 2015. See id., ¶ 10.
pending action vaguely asserts that he is entitled to federal
habeas corpus under Harbin v. Sessions, 860 F.3d 58
(2nd Cir. 2017) and Mathis v. United
States, ___ U.S. ___, 136 S.Ct. 2243 (2016) because the
career offender enhancement was improper because it was
improperly premised in part on a New York state conviction
for fifth degree criminal sale of a controlled
substance.Valentine further contends that his §
2255 remedy is inadequate or ineffective.
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, Petitioner is
apparently arguing that he may bring his present claim of an
improperly enhanced sentence via a § 2241 petition. It
would appear that it is Valentine's contention that this
Court has jurisdiction over his § 2241 action by virtue
of his ongoing detention at USP-Allenwood.
challenging the validity of a federal sentence and not its
execution, a federal prisoner is generally limited to seeking
relief by way of a motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
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”).
Valentine's instant claim is not based upon a contention
that the conduct which led to his conviction is no longer
criminal as a result of some change in the law. Rather,
Valentine's action only challenges his sentence
enhancement for being a career offender. As recognized by the
Honorable Kim R. Gibson in Pollard v. Yost, No.
07-235, 2008 WL 4933599, at *6 (W.D. Pa. Nov. 18, 2008), for
a challenge to a federal conviction to be presented by a
federal inmate by way of a § 2241 petition, there must
not only be “a claim of actual innocence but a claim of
actual innocence coupled with the inability to have brought
the claim before because of a change in the construction of
the criminal statute by a court having the last word on the
proper construction of the statute, which change rendered
what had been thought to be criminal within the ambit of the
statute, no longer criminal.”
Petitioner's argument concerns the validity of his
sentence, he must follow the requirements of § 2255. As
noted earlier, Petitioner states that he previously filed a
§ 2255 action with the Southern District of New York.
However, he ...