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Mitchell v. Saad

United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia, Martinsburg

February 27, 2018

MARTINSBURG JEROME MITCHELL, Petitioner,
v.
WARDEN SAAD, Respondent.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          ROBERT W. TRUMBLE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         On November 28, 2016, the pro se Petitioner filed an Application for Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §2241. ECF No. 1.[1] At the time this matter was filed, Petitioner was a federal inmate housed at FCI Gilmer. The docket sheet reflects that FCI Gilmer is Petitioner's mailing address. However, a review of the Bureau of Prisons inmate locator search shows that Petitioner is currently housed at Bennettsville FCI in Bennettsville, South Carolina. Petitioner is challenging the conditions of his confinement following his conviction in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio (S.D.Ohio) case number 1:07-CR-50. 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 Underlying Conviction [2]

         On April 18, 2007, a grand jury indicted Petitioner and charged him with two counts of being a felon who unlawfully possessed ammunition (Counts 1 and 2) and with two counts of possession of crack cocaine with intent to deliver a controlled substance (Counts 3 and 4). ECF No. 11. On September 18, 2007, Petitioner entered a guilty plea to all counts of the indictment. ECF No. 37. On January 23, 2008, the court sentenced Petitioner to a term of imprisonment of 120 months for Counts 1 and 2, and to 240 months for Counts 3 and 4, all of which were to be served concurrently to one another. ECF No. 48. A judgment of conviction was entered on January 24, 2008. ECF No. 49. Following an appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, the District Court entered an Amended Judgment which sentenced Petitioner to a term of imprisonment of: 120 months each for Counts 1 and 2; 240 months for Counts 3; and 151 months for Count 4, all of which were to be served concurrently to one another. ECF No. 60.

         B. The Instant Habeas Corpus Proceeding Filed under 28 U.S.C. § 2241

         On November 28, 2016, Petitioner filed the instant petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. ECF No. 1. The Petitioner's sole ground for relief is that he suffered a violation of his due process rights based on a condition of confinement, specifically his placement in the Special Housing Unit (“SHU”)[3] at FCI Gilmer. ECF No. 1 at 9, 5. Petitioner argues that his placement in solitary confinement “presents a harsher punishment by limiting certain liberties an inmate would normally have, ” including rehabilitation programs, work detail, chapel services, exercise, telephone and email access, and contact visits. ECF No. 1-1. For relief, Petitioner requests that he be appointed representation. ECF No. 1 at 8.

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A. Review of Petitions for Relief

         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 Section 2254 Cases in the U.S. District Courts; see also Rule 1(b) Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the U.S. District Courts (a district court may apply these rules to a habeas corpus petition not filed pursuant to § 2254).

         B. Pro Se Litigants.

         Courts must read pro se allegations in a liberal fashion and hold those pro se pleadings “to less stringent standards that formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), the Court is required to perform a judicial review of certain suits brought by prisoners and must dismiss a case at any time if the Court determines that the complaint is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. A complaint is frivolous if it is without arguable merit either in law or in fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989) (superseded by statute). The Supreme Court in Neitzke recognized that:

Section 1915(d) is designed largely to discourage the filing of, and waste of judicial and private resources upon, baseless lawsuits that paying litigants generally do not initiate because of the costs of bringing suit and because of the threat of sanctions for bringing vexatious suits under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11. To this end, the statute accords judges not only the authority to dismiss a claim based on an indisputably meritless legal theory, but also the unusual power to pierce the veil ...

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