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Polukhin v. Bradley

United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division

April 20, 2018

DR. ELENA POLUKHIN, Reg. No. 18824-041 Petitioner,
v.
WARDEN P. BRADLEY, et al., Respondent.

          ORDER RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          WALLACE CAPEL, JR. CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This civil action is pending before the court on a 28 U.S.C. § 2241 application for habeas corpus relief filed by Dr. Elena Polukhin, a federal inmate currently incarcerated at the Aliceville Federal Correctional Institution in Aliceville, Alabama.[1] In this petition, Polukhin complains that federal officials at the Aliceville facility have refused to place her in a halfway house or grant her release to home confinement. Doc. 1 at 2-6. Although Polukhin alleges that the Aliceville Federal Correctional Institution is located in the jurisdiction of this court, this facility is actually located within the jurisdiction of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama.

         Upon review of the petition, the court finds that this case should be transferred to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a).[2]

         II. DISCUSSION

         A district court has jurisdiction, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, over a claim concerning the BOP's failure to award an inmate placement in a halfway house or transfer to home confinement because such a challenge is to the manner in which the sentence is being executed. See, e.g., United States v. Williams, 425 F.3d 987, 990 (11th Cir. 2005); Bishop v. Reno, 210 F.3d 1295, 1304 n.14 (11th Cir. 2005). Polukhin must therefore satisfy the jurisdictional requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 2241. As a general rule, a 28 U.S.C. § 2241 petition for habeas corpus relief “may be brought only in the district court for the district in which the inmate is incarcerated.” Fernandez v. United States, 941 F.2d, 1488, 1495 (11th Cir. 1991); Braden v. 30th Judicial Circuit Court of Kentucky, 410 U.S. 484, 494-495 (1973) (“The writ of habeas corpus does not act upon the prisoner who seeks relief, but upon the person who holds [her] in what is alleged to be unlawful custody.”). “Jurisdiction is determined at the time the action is filed[.]” United States v. Edwards, 27 F.3d 564 (4th Cir. 1994).

The federal habeas statute straightforwardly provides that the proper respondent to a habeas petition is “the person who has custody over [the petitioner].” 28 U.S.C. § 2242; see also § 2243 (“The writ, or order to show cause shall be directed to the person having custody of the person detained”). The consistent use of the definite article in reference to the custodian indicates that there is generally only one proper respondent to a given prisoner's habeas petition. This custodian, moreover, is “the person” with the ability to produce the prisoner's body before the habeas court. Ibid. We summed up the plain language of the habeas statute over 100 years ago in this way: “[T]hese provisions contemplate a proceeding against some person who has the immediate custody of the party detained, with the power to produce the body of such party before the court or judge, that he may be liberated if no sufficient reason is shown to the contrary.” Wales v. Whitney, 114 U.S. 564, 574, 5 S.Ct. 1050, 29 L.Ed. 277 (1885) (emphasis added); see also Braden v. 30th Judicial Circuit Court of Ky., 410 U.S. 484, 494-495, 93 S.Ct. 1123, 35 L.Ed.2d 443 (1973) (“The writ of habeas corpus” acts upon “the person who holds [the detainee] in what is alleged to be unlawful custody, ” citing Wales, supra, at 574, 5 S.Ct. 1050); Braden, supra, at 495, 93 S.Ct. 1123 (“‘[T]his writ . . . is directed to . . . [the] jailer, '” quoting In re Jackson, 15 Mich. 417, 439-440 (1867)).
In accord with the statutory language and Wales' immediate custodian rule, longstanding practice confirms that in habeas challenges to present physical confinement - “core challenges” - the default rule is that the proper respondent is the warden of the facility where the prisoner is being held. . . .

Rumsfeld v. Padilla, 542 U.S. 426, 434-35 (2004) (emphasis in original).[3]

         Based on the foregoing, this court lacks personal jurisdiction over the proper respondent - the warden of the Aliceville Federal Correctional Institution. However, the law provides that when a case is filed “laying venue in the wrong division or district” a district court may, “if it be in the interest of justice, transfer such case to any district . . . where it could have been brought.” 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a); see also 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) (“For the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice, a district court may transfer any civil action to any other district . . . where it might have been brought[.]”); 28 U.S.C. § 1631 (specifically granting federal courts the power to transfer a civil action to “cure a want of jurisdiction” where such transfer “is in the interest of justice[.]”).

         The Aliceville Federal Correctional Institution is located in the jurisdiction of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama. Under the circumstances of this case, the undersigned concludes that in the interest of justice this case should be transferred to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama for review and determination.

         III. CONCLUSION

         Accordingly, it is the RECOMMENDATION of the Magistrate Judge that this case be transferred to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a).

         On or before May 4, 2018 the petitioner may file objections to the Recommendation. Any objection must specifically identify the findings in the Recommendation objected to. Frivolous, conclusive or general objections will not be considered by the District Court. The petitioner is advised that ...


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