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Reynolds v. Saad

United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia

November 2, 2017

MICHAEL CURTIS REYNOLDS, Petitioner,
v.
JENNIFER SAAD, Warden, Respondent.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          ROBERT W. TRUMBLE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         On June 12, 2017, the pro se Petitioner filed a Petition for Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. ECF No. 1.[1] Petitioner is a federal inmate housed at FCI Gilmer in the Northern District of West Virginia and is challenging the validity of his conviction imposed in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania (M.D.Pa.) case number 3:05-CR-493. This matter is pending before the undersigned for an initial review and Report and Recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636 and Local Rule of Prisoner Litigation Part 2.

         II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         A. Petitioner's Conviction and Pre-Sentencing Requests for Relief Pursuant to § 2255

         On December 5, 2005, Petitioner was charged in the Middle District of Pennsylvania at Scranton, in a criminal complaint with a federal weapons offense. ECF No. 1.[2] On December 20, 2005, a grand jury indicted Petitioner with two counts of criminal activity. ECF No. 16. On October 3, 2006, a grand jury returned a superseding indictment with charged Petitioner with six counts of felony criminal activity: Count 1, Attempt to Provide Material Support to a Foreign Terrorist Organization (Al-Qaeda); Count 2, Attempt to Provide Material Support to be Used in Maliciously Damaging and Destroying an Interstate Gas Pipeline by Means of Force or Explosive; Count 3, Solicitation of Others to Engage in a Felony Involving the Damaging or Attempted Damaging of an Interstate Pipeline Facility by Means of Force or Explosive; Count 4, Distribution of Information Through the Internet Involving the Manufacture and Use of an Explosive or Destructive Device to be Used to Damage or Attempt to Damage an Interstate Gas Pipeline Facility; Counts 5 and 6, Possession of an Explosive Grenade not Properly Registered. ECF No. 80. Following a jury trial, on July 13, 2007, Petitioner was found guilty of counts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 of the superseding indictment. ECF Nos. 297, 249.

         On July 23, 2007, before being sentenced, Petitioner filed a self-styled “appeal” on court-approved forms to file a motion to vacate or set aside pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255.[3] ECF No. 249. On July 31, 2007, the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit issued an order which stayed Petitioner's appeal pending entry of the judgment. ECF No. 257. On August 7, 2007, Petitioner filed another § 2255 motion which alleged two grounds for relief: (1) that his conviction was obtained by use of a coerced confession; and (2) that he was denied the right to due process. ECF No. 258. On August 15, 2007, the District Court entered an order which dismissed the August 7, 2007 § 2255 motion to vacate as premature. ECF No. 268.

         On November 6, 2007, the court sentenced Petitioner to a term of imprisonment of 360 months. ECF No. 297.

         B. Petitioner's Post-Sentencing Habeas Corpus Proceedings filed Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 in the Middle District of Pennsylvania

         Following his sentencing, on November 15, 2007, Petitioner filed another motion to vacate or set aside pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. ECF No. 313. In that motion, Petitioner repeated the same two grounds which he raised in his August 7, 2007 motion and added two additional grounds for relief: (1) that he was denied effective assistance of counsel; and (2) that the indictment against him was obtained by perjured testimony presented to and fraud committed upon the grand jury. Id. On November 26, 2007, the District Court dismissed Petitioner's November 15, 2007 motion to vacate on the ground that it was premature. ECF No. 318.

         On November 5, 2009, Petitioner filed a motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 2241, 2243, seeking his immediate release, which motion alleged that search warrants issued against him were invalid, trial testimony was either coached or the result of perjury, and that his arrest was unlawful. ECF No. 350. On November 30, 2009, Petitioner filed another motion “for Emergency Habeas Release” pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 2241, 2243. ECF No. 353. On December 7, 2009, Petitioner filed a third “Emergency Release” motion pursuant to §§ 2241 and 2243. ECF No. 354. On December 9, 2009, the District Court denied Petitioner's motions filed on November 9, 2009, and November 30, 2009, for lack of jurisdiction because the matter was then pending before the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. ECF No. 356.

         On March 18, 2010, in case number 07-3210, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed[4] Petitioner's conviction, appealed on July 23, 2007 in ECF No. 249. ECF No. 367, 371. In its opinion, the Third Circuit noted that Petitioner filed 11 pro se motions over the course of one month while the District Court appointed his third attorney, and Petitioner later filed 23 pro se motions while represented by court-appointed counsel. ECF No. 371-3 at 4. Further, the Third Circuit addressed Petitioner's claims that: (1) there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction; (2) the “master” affidavit and probable cause determination should have been suppressed by the trial court; (3) there was perjured trial testimony; (4) the government's prosecution of him was vindictive; and (5) that his speedy trial rights were violated. In regard to his claim that because he did not own a computer monitor, he was incapable of sending an email before November 23, 2005, the Court wrote:

The government proved that emails were sent from an email address Reynolds controlled, under an alias that Reynolds used, and were sent from Pennsylvania at a time that Reynolds admits he was located in the Middle District. Whether they were sent from Reynolds' personal computer or from some other computer to which he had access, Reynolds' assertion that his own computer had no monitor does not render the government's evidence insufficient.

ECF No. 371-3 at 6. In regard to his claim that perjured trial testimony was used to convict him, the Third Circuit recognized that, “[w]hether a witness's testimony is false, and the government's actual or imputed knowledge thereof, are factual questions to be determined by the District Court.” Id. at 8, citations omitted. The Third Circuit further noted that Petitioner failed to preserve that claim for appeal. Id.

         Next, Petitioner filed a motion in District Court for release from custody under §§ 2241 and 2243 on July 7, 2010, wherein he requested a “bail release hearing”. ECF No. 381. The District Court denied this request noting that “Petitioner not being on bail, [ ] it cannot be enlarged.” ECF No. 388. By further order, on August 19, 2010, the District Court denied Petitioner's July 7, 2010 motion for release from custody, noting that he “would be a danger to the community.” ECF No. 390.

         On October 21, 2010, Petitioner filed a self-styled “Hazel-Atlas” motion[5] alleging various facts, including those raised in the instant habeas corpus proceeding that the Standard Oil Company is no longer a going concern and that he possessed “no computer monitor with which to send emails”. ECF No. 391 at 2 - 3. Petitioner then filed two additional Hazel-Atlas motions on November 15, 2010 and December 1, 2010. ECF Nos. 395, 398. On March 8, 2011, the District Court issued a memorandum and order which denied Petitioner's three Hazel-Atlas motions [ECF Nos. 391, 395, 398], seven miscellaneous motions [ECF Nos. 403, 404, 406, 409, 411, 415, 420] and his motion for bail pending appeal [ECF No. 412]. ECF No. 422.

         On January 24, 2011, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit denied Petitioner's appeal in case number 10-4676. ECF No. 408.

         On March 22, 2011, Petitioner filed another[6] notice of appeal with the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in case number 11-1839. ECF Nos. 426, 427. This notice of appeal concerned the District Court's ruling on Petitioner's Hazel-Atlas motions. ECF Nos. 426. On April 8, 2011, Petitioner filed another motion for relief which was denied by order of the District Court, because Petitioner had already appealed the matter to the Third Circuit. ECF Nos. 428, 426.

         On August 29, 2011, Petitioner filed another motion to vacate pursuant to § 2255. ECF No. 440. In his motion Petitioner alleged four grounds: (1) that the “search warrant violation [was] not challenged”; (2) “known perjury before [the] grand jury”; (3) “fabrication of evidence”; and (4) “known [judicial] witness tampering”. Id. On October 3, 2011, the District Court entered an order which advised the Petitioner of limitations on his right to file a second or successive petition for relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, and which granted him leave to withdraw his most recent petition without prejudice to his rights. ECF No. 442.

         On October 13, 2011, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, in case number 11-1839, denied Petitioner's appeal, and affirmed the District Court's March 8, 2011 ruling which denied Petitioner's three Hazel-Atlas motions. ECF Nos. 443, 446-1. In its opinion, the Third Circuit noted that:

Reynolds has accumulated three “strikes” under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). He has filed some nineteen appeals and other proceedings in this Court since 2007. . . . has filed over thirty motions and other documents in the District Court and, since taking this appeal, has filed over twenty motions and other documents in this case. These filings are largely repetitive, and many state no discernable basis for relief.

ECF No. 446-1 at 6. The court characterized Petitioner's pleadings as, “difficult to follow, but he appears to take issue with evidence concerning a live hand grenade, an electronic match, his criminal history and a statement that his mother gave to detectives.” Id. at 3.

         On February 16, 2012, Petitioner filed another notice of appeal with the Third Circuit, which was docketed by that court as case number 12-1401. ECF Nos. 464, 465. The appeal was dismissed by Order entered April 24, 2012, for lack of appellate jurisdiction because the District Court's order on Petitioner's latest motion to vacate under § 2255 was still pending before the District Court and thus was not final or appealable. ECF No. 473.

         On August 15, 2012, the District Court entered an order denying Petitioner the relief he sought in his August 29, 2011 motion to vacate filed pursuant to § 2255. ECF No. 479. In the accompanying memorandum opinion, the District Court noted that Petitioner's claims that perjured testimony was used before the grand jury and at trial had already been considered and denied, by the District Court and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.” ECF No. at 12. The District Court further addressed Petitioner's claims that the government solicited perjured testimony that one of Petitioner's targets was the Standard Oil Company in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. In a footnote, the District Court recognized that:

Despite Petitioner's suggestion to the contrary, the Standard Oil Company did not disappear after the Supreme Court's decision that it be dissolved pursuant to the Sherman Antitrust Act. See Standard Oil Co., 221 U.S. 1, Rather, Standard Oil split into multiple companies, which after years of growth, sales, dissolutions, and mergers eventually became, inter alia, Mobil, Exxon, and Chevron. The Perth Amboy plant, although idled a few months after Petitioner's trial, is operated as a terminal. . . . this Court finds that no willfully false statement was made.

ECF No. 478 at 18, N. 14. The District Court further found that, “the specific locations of the oil facility and the pipeline [targets] were not germane to Petitioner's conviction.” Id. at 19. The District Court also addressed Petitioner's claims, raised in his reply brief [ECF No. 471, at 29, 35] that the court was without jurisdiction and venue to impose sentence because Petitioner did not own a computer monitor while in Pennsylvania. ECF No. 478 at 29. The District Court ruled, “Petitioner's claim that he did not have a computer monitor is without merit.” Id. Finally, in denying Petitioner a certificate of appealability, the District Court found that, “[t]he Third Circuit Court of Appeals previously considered each of the claims addressed herein and denied Petitioner's arguments.” Id. at 31.

         On April 30, 2012, Petitioner, while in federal custody at FCI-Victorville, in Victorville, California, filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus under § 2241 in the Central District of California, Western Division in 3:12-CV-1957. ECF No. 489. Petitioner claimed that his convictions are unconstitutional and that he is “actually innocent.” Id. at 4. On July 31, 2012, the District Court from the Central District of California, Western Division entered a Report and Recommendation that the matter should be transferred back to the Middle District of Pennsylvania for disposition as a § 2255 petition. Id. at 6. On October 3, 2012, the transferred case was filed in the Middle District of Pennsylvania as a motion to vacate under § 2255. ECF No. 489. On November 15, 2012, a second motion in the transferred case from California was filed as another motion to vacate under § 2255. ECF No. 490. On November 28, 2012, the District Court entered an order which denied Petitioner's motion to vacate [ECF No. 489], deemed Petitioner's second motion to vacate [ECF No. 490] as a second or successive petition filed without prior authorization, and determined there was no basis for the issuance of a certificate of appealability. ECF No. 492.

         A month before those cases were transferred to Pennsylvania, Petitioner filed another appeal with the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in case number 12-3580, on September 4, 2012. ECF No. 484. On February 13, 2013, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals entered an order which ...


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