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Givens v. United States

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

June 6, 2018

GREGORY LATRELL GIVENS, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Matthew W. Brann United States District Judge.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Gregory Latrell Givens, an inmate presently confined at the United States Penitentiary, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania (USP-Lewisburg) 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.

         Following a jury trial in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa, Petitioner was found guilty of being a felon in possession of ammunition and possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine. See United States v. Givens, 763 F.3d 987, 988 (8th Cir. 2014) He was sentenced to a 262 month term of confinement on July 19, 2013.

         Following a direct appeal, Petitioner's conviction and sentence were affirmed on August 15, 2014. See Id. A petition for writ of certiorari was denied by the Supreme Court of the United States on March 2, 2015. See Givens v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 1520 (2015). Petitioner also admits that he previously filed a motion with the sentencing court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 which was denied on or about April 2016. See Doc. 1, p. 3.

         Givens' pending action claims that he is entitled to federal habeas corpus because he is factually innocent of the cocaine related offense. Specifically Petitioner contends that the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because the arrest warrant issued against him was not supported by a showing of the requisite drug amount of at least twenty-eight (28) grams of cocaine base. See Doc. 1, p. 4. In addition, Petitioner argues that the jury was never instructed that it had to find a quantity of twenty-eight (28) grams of cocaine base. Givens further indicates that evidence used against him was obtained in illegal searches of his car and residence in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

         In partial support of his arguments, Petitioner relies upon the United States Supreme Court's decision in Burrage v. United States, 134 S.Ct. 881 (2014). The Burrage Court in addressing a sentencing enhancement issue held that death results from drug trafficking only when the use of the controlled substance is the “but for” cause of the victim's death. The Supreme Court added that a penalty enhancement can only be applied if a jury finds beyond a reasonable doubt that the victim's use of a drug distributed by the defendant was a “but for” cause of death.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Respondent

         Givens names as sole Respondent the United States of America. It is initially noted that the only properly named Respondent in a federal habeas corpus action is Petitioner's custodial official. See 28 U.S.C. § 2242. Accordingly, the USP-Lewisburg Warden will be deemed the Respondent in this matter.

         B. 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. 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).

         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).

         B. ...


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