United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
H. RAMBO, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
11, 2018, the Court received and filed the instant pro
se petition for a writ of habeas corpus submitted
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 by Petitioner Ernesto
Alonzo Ramirez (“Petitioner”). (Doc. No. 1.)
Petitioner also filed a motion to seal this entire action.
(Doc. No. 2.) For the reasons set forth herein, the Court
will dismiss the petition without prejudice and will deem
Petitioner's motion to seal withdrawn.
an inmate currently incarcerated at the United States
Penitentiary - Lewisburg, Pennsylvania
(“USP-Lewisburg”), filed his petition for a writ
of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241,
challenging his designation to the Special Management Unit
(“SMU”) program at USP-Lewisburg. (Doc. No. 1.)
It appears that Petitioner believes that his placement in the
SMU involved retaliatory actions by a correctional officer as
a result of Petitioner filing grievances and complaints
against the officer. (Id. at 3-6.) As a result,
Petitioner contends that he has been wrongfully placed in
administrative segregation and has lost phone privileges.
(Id. at 7.) In his request for relief, Petitioner
seeks a restoration of his phone privileges and to be removed
from the SMU. (Id.)
Court first reviews Petitioner's petition pursuant to
Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the U.S.
District Courts, applicable to § 2241 petitions through
Rule 1(b), to determine whether the petition may be subject
to summary dismissal. See 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
been repeatedly held that “[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.' ” Thomas v. Hauser, No.
3:15-CV-0469, 2015 WL 1566233, at *1 (M.D. Pa. April 8, 2015)
(citing Allen v. Perini, 424 F.2d 134, 141 (6th Cir.
1970), cert. denied, 400 U.S. 906 (1970)). The
Allen court stated that “the District Court
has a duty to screen out a habeas corpus petition which
should be dismissed for lack of merit on its face.”
Allen, 424 F.2d at 141.
purpose of a petition for writ of habeas corpus is to allow a
person in custody to challenge either the fact or duration of
his confinement. Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475,
484 (1973); Leamer v. Fauver, 288 F.3d 532, 540 (3d
Cir. 2002). Federal habeas relief is unavailable unless the
petition attacks “the validity of the continued
conviction or the fact or length of the sentence.”
Leamer, 288 F.3d at 542. For instance, under §
2241, a federal prisoner may challenge the execution of his
sentence - such as a claim concerning the denial or
revocation of parole, or the loss of good-time credits - in
the district court for the federal judicial district where
the prisoner is in custody. See 28 U.S.C. §
2241(a); Rumsfeld v. Padilla, 542 U.S. 426, 443-44
(2004); Coady v. Caughn, 251 F.3d 480, 485 (3d Cir.
contrast, where a “judgment in Petitioner's favor
would not affect the fact or duration of Petitioner's
incarceration, habeas relief is unavailable.” See
Green v. Bledsoe, No. 4:10-cv-0059, 2010 WL 1372409, at
*1 (M.D. Pa. Apr. 5, 2010) (quoting Suggs v. B.O.P.,
Civ. No. 08-3613, 2008 WL 2966740, at *4 (D. N.J. July 31,
2008)). Rather, “when the challenge is to a condition
of confinement such that a finding in plaintiff's favor
would not alter his sentence or undo his conviction, an
action under § 1983 is appropriate.”
Leamer, 288 F.3d at 542. Where a federal inmate is
challenging the conditions of his confinement, the filing of
a Bivens action under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, the
federal counterpart to a § 1983 action, is appropriate.
Petitioner challenges his placement in the SMU as well as a
restoration of his telephone privileges. (Doc. No. 1.)
However, these arguments do not constitute challenges to the
fact or duration of Petitioner's confinement, as any
favorable decision would not alter his sentence or undo his
conviction. See Cardona v. Thompson, 551 Fed.Appx.
630, 632 (3d Cir. 2013) (finding that a favorable resolution
in such issues “would mean at most release into the
general population; it would not mean a shorter stay in
prison). Rather, Petitioner's challenges concern the
conditions of his confinement, which do not sound in habeas.
See Dodd v. Smith, No. 3:cv-05-1802, 2005 WL
2234642, at *1 (M.D. Pa. Sept. 14, 2005) (finding that
inmate's challenge to the sanctions imposed in a
disciplinary proceeding which did not result in the
forfeiture of good time credits and did not extend the length
of inmate's incarceration, was not a proper habeas
claim); Bedenfield v. Lewisburg, Civ. No. 10-1750,
2010 WL 3511507, at *1 (3d Cir. Sept. 9, 210)
(“Bedenfield's challenge to his placement in the
SMU is analogous to the ‘garden variety prison
transfer' that we have indicated should be challenged in
a civil rights action, not via a habeas petition”);
Green, 2010 WL 1372409, at *2 (dismissing
petitioner's § 2241 habeas petition challenging SMU
placement as not cognizable under § 2241); Woodruff
v. Williamson, No. 3:06-cv-2310, 2009 WL 703200, at *5
(M.D. Pa. Mar. 12, 2009) (same).
reading of the petition does not indicate that
Petitioner's sanctions included a loss of good conduct
time, or that the duration of his confinement has been
affected. Accordingly, the instant petition will be dismissed
without prejudice to Petitioner's right to pursue his
claims in a properly filed civil rights action.
although Petitioner has filed a motion to seal (Doc. No. 2),
he has not filed a brief in support as required by Local Rule
7.5. Local Rule 7.5 requires that a party file a brief in
support of any motion, with the exception of a few
circumstances not applicable here. L.R. 7.5. “If a
supporting brief is not filed within the time period provided
in this rule the motion shall be deemed to be
withdrawn.” Id. Because Petitioner has not
filed a brief in support of his motion in accordance with the
Local Rules of Court, his motion will be deemed withdrawn.
reasons set forth above, the petition for a writ of habeas
corpus (Doc. No. 1.), will be DISMISSED
without prejudice to Petitioner's right to pursue his
claims in a properly filed civil rights action, and
Petitioner's motion to ...