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Vazquez v. Trump

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

April 5, 2018





         Maximo Antonion Reyes Vazquez (Petitioner) an inmate presently confined at the Allenwood Federal Correctional Institution, White Deer, Pennsylvania (FCI-Allenwood) filed this pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Although the caption lists multiple federal officials as being Respondents, Warden White of FCI-Allenwood will be deemed the sole Respondent. See 28 U.S.C. § 2242. Petitioner's request to proceed in forma pauperis will be granted for the sole purpose of the filing of this action with this Court.

         Petitioner states that he is presently serving a 360 month sentence which was imposed on May 6, 1998 by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. See Doc. 1, ¶¶ 2-3. According to the petition and supporting memorandum, Vazquez was extradited from the Dominican Republic on drug and racketeering related charges. He subsequently entered a guilty plea in the Southern District of new York on December 5, 1997.

         Vazquez indicates that he previously sought relief from the sentencing court via motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Furthermore, a prior request by Petitioner to file a successive § 2255 motion seeking relief was denied on November 27, 2017. See Doc. 1, ¶ 10.

         In his pending action, Petitioner claims entitlement to federal habeas corpus relief on the grounds that the sentencing court lacked jurisdiction to accept his plea because his extradition was unlawful and because he received ineffective assistance of counsel. See Doc. 2, pp. 4, 10.


         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. 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).

         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, 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).

         Since Petitioner 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 FCI-Allenwood.

         A 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, 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"). 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, 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").

         "It 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." Id. at 539. See also, Alexander v. Williamson, 324 Fed.Appx. 149, 151 (3d Cir. Apr. 16, 2009).

         As recognized by the Hon. 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 ยง 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 ...

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