United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia, Bluefield Division
PROPOSED FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
A. EIFERT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
12, 2016, Carmen Johnson (“Johnson”) filed a
Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2241, (ECF No. 2), and an Application to Proceed
Without Prepayment of Fees and Costs. (ECF No.
This case is assigned to the Honorable David A. Faber, United
States District Judge, and by standing order is referred to
the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge for submission
of proposed findings of fact and recommendations for
disposition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). For
the reasons that follow, the undersigned respectfully
RECOMMENDS that the District Court
DENY Johnson's Petition for a Writ of
Habeas Corpus and DISMISS this action from
the docket of the Court.
2015, Johnson was convicted in the United States District
Court for the District of Maryland of conspiracy to commit
wire fraud, wire fraud, and false information on a loan
application in violation of federal law. (ECF No. 8 at 1-2).
She was incarcerated at the Federal Prison Camp located in
Alderson, West Virginia (“Alderson”). In July
2016, Johnson filed the instant petition for habeas relief.
(ECF No. 2). The undersigned issued a Show Cause Order on
July 26, 2016, instructing Respondent to answer the petition
and show cause why the relief requested should not be
granted. (ECF No. 5). Respondent complied with the order,
filing an answer in which she moved that the petition be
dismissed, in relevant part, because it failed to state a
claim cognizable under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. (ECF No. 8).
Respondent argued that all of Johnson's claims asserted
in the petition involved challenges to her conditions of
confinement, and did not attack the execution of her
sentence. Therefore, the claims should have been brought in a
civil rights complaint, rather than a § 2241 habeas
August 26, 2016, the Court ordered Johnson to reply to
Respondent's request for dismissal. (ECF No. 9).
Consequently, on October 24, 2016, Johnson filed a 72-page
Motion to Not Dismiss the Petition, in which she asked for a
mental health examination and for an order excusing her from
attending GED classes at Alderson. (ECF No. 10). Johnson also
filed an addendum to her motion in February 2017. (ECF No.
February 15, 2018, the undersigned issued an order advising
Johnson that her petition did, indeed, seem to assert only
claims related to the conditions of her confinement rather
than the execution of her sentence and, therefore, her claims
were not cognizable under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. (ECF No.
12). Johnson was provided with the guidance and forms
necessary to file a federal civil rights complaint under
Bivens v. Six Unknown Federal Agents of Federal Bureau of
Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). (Id.). Johnson
was notified that the undersigned would issue a
recommendation that the pending action for habeas relief be
dismissed if Petitioner failed to tender the proper
paperwork. (Id.). Johnson complied with the
undersigned's direction and filed a complaint challenging
her conditions of confinement. This complaint was properly
docketed by the Clerk of Court as a separate civil action.
See Johnson v. Wilson, et al., No. 1:18-cv-00416
(S.D. W.Va. Mar. 9, 2018) at ECF No. 1.
Respondent correctly emphasizes in her Response to Order to
Show Cause, Johnson fails to state any claims in her petition
that are cognizable under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. A habeas
petition is the proper mechanism by which a prisoner disputes
the “fact or duration” of his confinement.
Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 498-99 (1973).
Generally, a motion filed under section 2255 attacks the
validity of a federal conviction or sentence, Rice v.
Rivera, 617 F.3d 802, 807 (4th Cir.2010), while a
petition under section 2241 challenges the execution of a
sentence. United States v. Little, 392 F.3d 671, 679
(4th Cir. 2004) (citing In re Vial, 115 F.3d 1192,
1194 n. 5 (4th Cir. 1997)). When a prisoner attempts only to
alter the conditions of his confinement, rather than the
duration of his sentence, the appropriate vehicle is a civil
rights action. Preiser, 411 U.S. at 494, 498-99.
Johnson complains exclusively about the lack of mental health
treatment available to her at Alderson and about the
facility's insistence that she take a GED course when she
already has a GED. (ECF No. 2). Such claims do not challenge
the fact or duration of her sentence. Accordingly, the
undersigned FINDS that Johnson fails to
state a claim for habeas relief. See Crooker v.
Stewart, No. CIV.A. ELH-14-1972, 2015 WL 1210209, at *3
(D. Md. Mar. 13, 2015) (acknowledging a split among circuits,
but noting that “the Fourth Circuit has said that where
a petitioner does not assert entitlement to release, the
claim is properly treated as a suit under 42 U.S.C. §
1983, or in the case of a federal inmate, a Bivens
claim.”) (citing as an example, Braddy v.
Wilson, 580 Fed.Appx. 172 (4th Cir.2014)).
Johnson will not be prejudiced by a dismissal of her
petition, because she has now filed a separate civil rights
complaint in this district, which subsumes the allegations in
the instant action. See Johnson, No. 1:18-cv-00416.
Johnson does not seek monetary compensation in her habeas
petition; rather, she seeks changes to the mental health and
educational services she has been receiving, and continues to
receive, at Alderson. (ECF No. 2 at 8). As such, dismissal of
this case would not result in Johnson's claims being
barred by a statute of limitations that might apply to claims
for money damages. Given that Johnson has now asserted her
conditions of confinement claims using the proper legal
avenue, this habeas petition should be dismissed. See,
e.g. Searcy v. Broom, No. CA 606-3336-GRA-WMC, 2007 WL
675695, at *1 (D.S.C. Feb. 28, 2007)
Proposal and Recommendations
forgoing reasons, the undersigned respectfully
PROPOSES that the District Court confirm and
accept the foregoing findings and RECOMMENDS
that Petitioner's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 (ECF No. 2) be
DENIED, and this action be
DISMISSED, with prejudice, and removed from
the docket of the court.
parties are notified that this “Proposed Findings and
Recommendations” is hereby FILED, and
a copy will be submitted to the Honorable David A. Faber,
United States District Judge. Pursuant to the provisions of
Title 28, United States Code, Section 636(b)(1)(B), and Rules
6(d) and 72(b), Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Petitioner
shall have fourteen days (filing of objections) and three
days (if received by mail) from the date of filing this
“Proposed Findings and Recommendations” within
which to file with the Clerk of this Court, specific written
objections, identifying the portions of the “Proposed
Findings and Recommendations” to which objection is
made and the basis of such objection. Extension of this time
period may be granted by the presiding District Judge for
good cause shown.
to file written objections as set forth above shall
constitute a waiver of de novo review by the
District Court and a waiver of appellate review by the
Circuit Court of Appeals. Snyder v. Ridenour, 889
F.2d 1363 (4th Cir. 1989); Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S.
140 (1985); Wright v. Collins, 766 F.2d 841 (4th
Cir. 1985); United States v. Schronce, 727 F.2d 91
(4th Cir. 1984). ...