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Proffitt v. Larose

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

January 9, 2019

WILBERT EUGENE PROFFITT, Petitioner,
v.
WARDEN LEROSE, Respondent.

          ORDER TRANSFERRING CASE

          JOHN PRESTON BAILEY UNITED-STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Pending before this Court is a habeas corpus proceeding brought by petitioner Wilbert Eugene Proffitt [Doc. 1], which was recently transferred to this Court by the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio [Doc. 8]. This Court is of the opinion that this case was improvidently transferred and, accordingly, is returning the case to its origin.

         The petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 was filed on December 18, 2017, in the Northern District of Ohio. At the time the petition was filed, the petitioner was confined in Youngstown, Ohio, within the Northern District of Ohio. At a later date, the petitioner was transferred to FCI Hazelton, triggering the transfer to this Court.

         It is clear that the Northern District of Ohio continues to have jurisdiction over this case. As noted in Smith v. Campbell, 450 F.2d 829 (9th Cir. 1971):

         It is generally accepted that in civil cases, jurisdiction is measured at the time the action is filed, and subsequent events cannot divest the court of that jurisdiction. St. Paul Mercury Indemnity Co. v. Red Cab Co., 303 U.S. 283 (1938). This rule is consistent with a concern for both practicality and fairness. Mullen v. Torrance, 22 U.S. (9 Wheat.) 536 (1824). In Metcalf v. Watertown, 128 U.S. 586 (1888), the Court held that jurisdiction in diversity of citizenship cases is determined at the time the action is commenced. However, “Though habeas corpus is technically ‘civil', it is not automatically subject to all the rules governing ordinary civil actions. See Harris v. Nelson, 394 U.S. 286.” Schlanger v. Seamans, 401 U.S. 487, n. 4 at 490.

         In regard to habeas corpus matters, the courts have uniformly followed the rule regarding jurisdiction that is followed in civil cases. In Schlanger v. Seamans, supra, the Supreme Court based its ruling of lack of jurisdiction upon the facts as they existed at the time the action was filed. Furthermore, Justice Douglas stated: “Had petitioner, at the time of the filing of the petition, been under the command of the Air Force officer assigned as liaison officer at Arizona State to supervise the Education and Commissioning Program, we would have a different question.” (Emphasis added.) 401 U.S. at 491-492.

         In Bishop v. Medical Superintendent, 377 F.2d 467 (6th Cir. 1967), the court held that the district court was correct in dismissing the petition for writ of habeas corpus for not stating a cause of action, but was in error for dismissing it for lack of jurisdiction. In that case the petitioner, a patient at a state mental hospital within the Western District of Michigan, filed his habeas corpus petition with the district court for the western district. Subsequently, the petitioner was transferred to a hospital within the Eastern District of Michigan. The district court held that it no longer had jurisdiction. The court of appeals held: “We conclude that this latter ruling of the court is in error. The District Court for the Western District of Michigan, having jurisdiction of the action at the time the petition was filed, did not lose jurisdiction when the appellant was subsequently transferred to the Ypsilanti State Hospital in the Eastern District of Michigan.” 377 F.2d at 468.

In Harris v. Ciccone, 417 F.2d 479 (8th Cir. 1969)[cert. denied, 397 U.S. 1078 (1970)], Justice Blackmun (then Judge Blackmun) stated that a transfer of a petitioner from Missouri to Pennsylvania did not defeat the jurisdiction of the District Court for the Western District of Missouri. 417 F.2d 479 n. 1 at 480. The court reaffirmed the ruling in its prior per curiam opinion in Holland v. Ciccone, 386 F.2d 825 (8th Cir. 1967), that, “Having had jurisdiction when the petition was filed, the retransfer of the petitioner did not destroy that jurisdiction.” 386 F.2d at 827.

450 F.2d at 832.

         The Third Circuit, in Ex parte Catanzaro, 138 F.2d 100, 101 (3d Cir. 1943), stated that “we do not believe that passing about of the body of a prisoner from one custodian to another after a writ of habeas corpus has been applied for can defeat the jurisdiction of the Court to grant or refuse the writ on the merits of the application. It is a general rule of law that where one has become subject to the jurisdiction of a court, the jurisdiction continues in all proceedings arising out of the litigation such as appeals and writs of error. 1 Beale, The Conflict of Laws (1935) § 76.1.”

         The Fifth Circuit, in Griffin v. Ebbert, 751 F.3d 288, 290 (5th Cir. 2014), noted that “[j]urisdiction attached on that initial filing for habeas corpus relief, and it was not destroyed by the transfer of petitioner and accompanying custodial change.” (citations omitted). See also Lee v. Wetzel, 244 F.3d 370 (5th Ci. 2001).

         As noted above, the Sixth Circuit is consistent with these other holdings, Bishop v. Medical Superintendent, 377 F.2d 467 (6th Cir. 1967), as is the Eighth Circuit, Harris v. Ciccone, 417 F.2d 479 (8th Cir. 1969), cert. denied, 397 U.S. 1078 (1970).

         The Tenth Circuit, in Santillanes v. U.S. Parole Comm., 754 F.2d 887, 888 (10th Cir. 1985), held that “[i]t is well established that jurisdiction attaches on the initial filing for habeas corpus relief, and is not destroyed by a transfer of the petitioner and accompanying custodial change.”

         It is clear then that the Northern District of Ohio has jurisdiction to decide this case. The transfer order, ...


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