United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
John E. Jones III Judge.
September 24, 2019, Pedro Valez (“Valez”), an
inmate at FCI-Allenwood (Medium), in Allenwood, Pennsyvlania,
initiated an action before this Court styled as a Petition
for Writ of Habeas Corpus Under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. (Doc.
1). The pleading was typed on a pre-printed §2241 form
available to inmates at federal correctional facilities.
Valez paid the $5.00 filing fee required of 28 U.S.C. §
the filing, Valez submits that he is filing an
“emergency writ due to the condition of prisoner
whereas, petitioner is suffering “medical”
complication that are [sic] life threatening . .
.” (Doc. 1, p. 2). Valez further alleges that he
“believes that he may be close to death . . . due to
[his] severe “headache” . . . (Doc. 1, p. 3).
Valez that he has not exhausted his administrative remedies
on the because he “believe[s] that he may be
dying!” (Doc. 1, p. 10) As relief, Valez seeks to be
taken to a hospital and evaluated by a “Specialist that
are [sic] trained in the area that petitioner may be
suffering from.” (Doc. 1, p. 11).
outset, we note that Valez has mis-filed his action as a
habeas petition, rather than a civil rights complaint. The
writ of habeas corpus, one of the protections of individual
liberties enshrined in our Constitution, serves a specific,
and well-defined purpose. The writ of habeas corpus exists to
allow those in the custody of the state to challenge in court
the fact, duration and lawfulness of that custody. As the
United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has
aptly noted: “The underlying purpose of proceedings
under the ‘Great Writ’ of habeas corpus has
traditionally been to ‘inquire into the legality of the
detention, and the only judicial relief authorized was the
discharge of the prisoner or his admission to bail, and that
only if his detention were found to be unlawful.’
Powers of Congress and the Court Regarding the
Availability and Scope of Review, 114 Harv. L.Rev. 1551,
1553 (2001).” Leamer v. Fauver, 288 F.3d 532,
540 (3d Cir. 2002). However, there is a necessary corollary
to this principle, one which has long been recognized by the
courts; namely, “[i]f a ... prisoner is seeking [other
relief], he is attacking something other than the fact or
length of his confinement, and he is seeking something other
than immediate or more speedy release-the traditional purpose
of habeas corpus. In [such cases], habeas corpus is not an
appropriate or available federal remedy.” Preiser
v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 494, 93 S.Ct. 1827, 36
L.Ed.2d 439 (1973).
where a prisoner wishes to constitutionally challenge some
aspect of the conditions of his confinement unrelated to the
fact or duration of his detention, courts have repeatedly
held that the writ of habeas corpus is not the proper vehicle
for bringing this legal challenge. Careful review of the
petition reveals that Valez does not seek speedier or
immediate release from custody or challenge the legality of
his present incarceration. Rather, he challenges the adequacy
of the medical care administered by the medical staff at
FCI-Allenwood (Medium), and seeks specified injunctive relief
in the form of being transported to a hospital for evaluation
by a specialist. Because the relief he seeks is due to the
alleged deprivation of certain rights and privileges afforded
to him under the Eighth Amendment to the United States
Constitution, the appropriate remedy is a civil rights
aforementioned settled legal tenets control here and are
fatal to Valez’s habeas petition. Since it is well
established that the types of complaints made by the Valez
regarding the conditions of his confinement simply do not
sound in habeas, this petition must be dismissed.
Valez’s recourse, if any, would be through a civil
rights action challenging these prison conditions. However,
because the filing requirements for habeas and civil rights
actions differ, and the two types of actions raise different
issues in terms of procedural requirements and substantive
standards, it would not be appropriate to simply construe
Valez’s pleading, which was clearly designated as a
habeas petition, as a civil rights action. Instead, we shall
dismiss the petition without prejudice to Valez later filing
a separate civil rights action if he chooses to do so.
Woodruff v. Williamson, No. 06–2310, 2009 WL
703200, at 6 (M.D. Pa. March 12, 2009) (dismissing habeas
petition challenging SMU placement without prejudice to
separate civil rights action).
We take this opportunity to remind
Valez that with few exceptions, he must exhaust the
administrative remedies available to him as a precursor to
filing any suit that ...