United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
J. Nicholas Ranjan, United States District Judge.
August 28, 2019, the above captioned case was initiated by
the filing of a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (ECF No.
1) and was referred to a United States Magistrate Judge for
pretrial proceedings in accordance with the Magistrate Judges
Act, 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), and the Local Rules of Court
for Magistrate Judges.
magistrate judge filed a Report and Recommendation on August
29, 2019 (ECF No. 2) recommending that the Petition for Writ
of Habeas Corpus be transferred to the United States District
Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania because that is
the District wherein the state court conviction of
Petitioner, Mr. Neil Pal, was obtained. As such, the Middle
District of Pennsylvania is the proper venue for litigation
of the underlying allegations of Mr. Pal.
filed timely objections to the Report and Recommendation (ECF
No. 3). Where, as here, timely objections have been filed,
the Court is required to “make a de novo determination
of those portions of the report or specified findings or
recommendations to which objection is made.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). The district court may
accept, reject, or modify the recommended disposition, as
well as receive further evidence or return the matter to the
magistrate judge with instructions.
U.S.C. § 2241(d) clearly provides that when a state
prisoner files an application for writ of habeas corpus in a
state that contains two or more federal district courts, the
prisoner may file in either the district court for the
district where he is in custody or the district court for the
district where the conviction and sentencing occurred.
However, the district court that entertains the application
“in the exercise of its discretion and in furtherance
of justice may transfer the application to the other district
court for hearing and determination.” 28 U.S.C. §
2241(d). In evaluating whether to transfer, the court should
weigh “traditional venue considerations, ”
including “where all of the material events took place,
” where “records and witnesses pertinent to
petitioner's claim are likely to be found, ” and
the convenience of the parties. Braden v. 30th Judicial
District, 410 U.S. 484, 493-94 (1973). Further,
“[i]t has been the general practice of the federal
district courts in Pennsylvania to transfer habeas corpus
petitions to the federal district court where the Court of
Common Pleas is located that conducted the underlying
criminal trial of the petitioner.” Aponte v.
Coleman, 2011 WL 4368376, at *2 (W.D. Pa. Aug. 22,
2011), adopted by, 2011 WL 4368682 (W.D. Pa. Sept. 19, 2011);
Nightingale v. Vincent, No. Civ.A. 08-95J, 2008 WL
1943427, at *2 (W.D. Pa. May 2, 2008) (“Moreover, the
federal district courts in the three separate districts in
the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania all follow the uniform
practice of transferring habeas petitions filed by persons
incarcerated within their districts to the district which
encompasses the county in which the petitioner was
case, Mr. Pal was convicted in the Lackawanna County Court of
Common Pleas, which is located within the Middle District of
Pennsylvania. The records of conviction, transcripts of
proceedings, and witnesses are presumably located within the
Middle District of Pennsylvania. Most Respondents,
even Mr. Pal's counsel,  are located within the Middle
District of Pennsylvania. Further, there is no indication
that the transfer of this action would result in any
substantial delay or prejudice to Mr. Pal. See Garcia v.
Pugh, 948 F.Supp. 20, 23 (E.D. Pa. 1996). Consequently,
the traditional venue considerations indicate that this
matter should be transferred to the Middle District of
to the objections raised by Mr. Pal, this Court has not
adopted a policy automatically transferring habeas
cases to the jurisdiction in which the state prisoner was
convicted and sentenced. Rather, this Court has in the past
(as well as in this case) conducted an independent analysis
and finds that the convenience of the parties and interest of
justice indicates a transfer. The only objection Mr. Pal
raises with respect to the interest of justice is that his
“highly publicized” murder trial took place in
Scranton, which is situated in the Middle District of
Pennsylvania. Mr. Pal's trial, however, occurred in June
2014, and he has not provided any evidence to suggest that
the Middle District of Pennsylvania could not fairly or
impartially preside over habeas proceedings occurring over
five years later.
while the Court has given thoughtful consideration to Mr.
Pal's objections, it agrees with the Report and
Recommendation. Based on an analysis of the venue
considerations specific to this case, the case should be
transferred to the federal district court where the Court of
Common Pleas is located that conducted Mr. Pal's
underlying criminal trial. Therefore, Mr. Pal's
objections are denied.
de novo review of the pleadings and documents in
this case, together with the Report and Recommendation and
objections thereto, the following order is entered:
NOW, this 13th day of September 2019:
IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Petition for Writ of
Habeas Corpus be TRANSFERRED forthwith to
the United States District Court for the Middle District of
Pennsylvania, the situs of Mr. Pal's state court criminal
IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Report and
Recommendation (ECF No. 2) is ADOPTED as the
Opinion of the Court along with this Memorandum Order.
IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk of Court mark ...