United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
Matthew W. Brann United States District Judge
Fernando Sanchez, an inmate presently confined at the
Allenwood Low Security Correctional Institution, White Deer,
Pennsylvania (LSCI-Allenwood) filed this pro se
habeas corpus petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241.
Named as Respondent is USP-Allenwood Warden Spaulding.
Petitioner's request to proceed in forma
pauperis will be granted.
states that he is presently serving a sentence which was
imposed by the United States District Court for the Southern
District of Florida on January 9, 2015. See Doc. 1,
¶ 4. Petitioner's pending action seeks federal
habeas corpus relief on the grounds that his trial counsel
provided ineffective assistance and his sentence was
indicates that his pending claims were included in a direct
appeal which was denied by the United States Court of Appeals
for the Eleventh Circuit on December 1, 2015. See
id., ¶ 7. Sanchez also acknowledges previously
filed a motion with the sentencing court pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2255 which was denied on February 2, 2017.
See id., ¶ 10.
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).
is apparently arguing that he may bring his present claims of
ineffective assistance of counsel and an improperly enhanced
sentence via a § 2241 petition. It would further appear
that it is Sanchez's contention that this Court has
jurisdiction over his § 2241 action by virtue of his
ongoing detention at LSCI-Allenwood.
federal prisoner may challenge the execution of his sentence
by initiating an action pursuant to § 2241. See
Woodall v. Federal Bureau of Prisons, 432 F.3d 235, 241
(3d Cir. 2005). However, when 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”).
instant claims are 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, Sanchez's
action vaguely asserts that he received ineffective
assistance of counsel and also generally challenges his
sentence enhancements because they were not proven by a
preponderance of the evidence. 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.” As previously discussed,
Sanchez is challenging the validity of his federal conviction
and sentence enhancements imposed by the Southern District of
Florida. Since 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 direct appeal and a § 2255 action.
Despite the vagueness of the pending petition, it appears
that Sanchez's pending arguments were raised in those
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 ...