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Proctor v. Saad

United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia

November 3, 2017

BRUCE LEON PROCTOR, Petitioner,
v.
JENNIFER SAAD, Warden, Respondent.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          ROBERT W. TRUMBLE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         On March 22, 2017, pro se Petitioner, Bruce Proctor (“Petitioner”), filed an Application for Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Petitioner is a federal inmate who was housed at USP Gilmer when he initiated this action and is challenging the validity of his sentence imposed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. This matter is pending before the undersigned for an initial review and Report and Recommendation pursuant to LR PL P 2.

         II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY[1]

         On April 11, 2012, Petitioner pled guilty to one count of possession with intent to distribute heroin in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(c) in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. ECF No. 17. On August 30, 2102, Petitioner was sentenced to imprisonment for a term of 121 months, followed by five years of supervised release. ECF No. 34.

         On March 7, 2016, Petitioner filed a motion to vacate pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Petitioner alleged that his state court counsel's failure to advise him of a possible federal indictment (and its correspondingly stiffer penalties) amounted to ineffective assistance. ECF No. 39 at 4. Petitioner alleged that had he known that his rejection of the state court plea deal could lead to his federal indictment, and much more severe punishment in federal court, he would have taken the state offered plea. ECF No. 41 at 7. The district court declined to reach the merits of Petitioner's argument because his Motion was time-barred by 28 U.S.C. § 2255. ECF No. 53. The United State Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit declined to issue a certificate of appealability. ECF No. 58.

         III. PETITIONER'S CLAIMS

         In support of his § 2241 petition before this Court, Petitioner cites Mathis v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 2243, 195 L.Ed.2d 604 (2016). Petitioner argues that his predicate convictions[2]should not qualify as controlled substance offenses under Mathis, and that his sentencing enhancement as a “career offender” under U.S.S.G. 4B1.1 is improper.

         IV. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and this Court's local rules, the undersigned is authorized to review such petitions for relief and submit findings and recommendations to the District Court. This Court is charged with screening Petitioner's case to determine if “it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court.” Rule 4, Rules Governing § 2254 Cases in the U.S. District Courts (2014); see also Rule 1(b) Rules Governing § 2254 Cases in the U.S. District Courts (2014) (a district court may apply these rules to a habeas corpus petition not filed pursuant to § 2254). As a pro se litigant, Petitioner's pleadings are accorded liberal construction and held to less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by attorneys. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93-94 (2007) (per curiam). However, even under this less stringent standard, the petition in this case is subject to summary dismissal. The requirement of liberal construction does not mean that the Court can ignore a clear failure to allege facts which set forth a claim cognizable in a federal district court. See Weller v. Dep't of Social Servs., 901 F.2d 387 (4th Cir. 1990). As discussed more fully below, Petitioner clearly is not entitled to relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 and therefore, no response is required of Respondent.

         V. DISCUSSION

         Prisoners seeking to challenge the validity of their convictions or their sentences are required to proceed under § 2255 in the district court of conviction. A petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to § 2241, on the other hand, is intended to address the execution of a sentence, rather than its validity, and is to be filed in the district where the prisoner is incarcerated. Examples of an appropriate use of § 2241 include “actions challenging the computation of parole, computation of good time or jail credits, prison disciplinary actions, or imprisonment allegedly beyond the expiration of a sentence.” Anderson v. Pettiford, 2007 WL 15777676 (D.S.C. May 31, 2007) (internal citations omitted).

         However, there is a limited exception in which a challenge to the validity of a conviction may be raised in a § 2241 petition under the “savings clause” of § 2255:

An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a prisoner who is authorized to apply for relief by motion pursuant to this section, shall not be entertained if it appears that the applicant has failed to apply for that relief by motion, to the court which sentenced him, or that the court has denied him relief, unless it also appears that ...

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