United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
ERNEST F. PLATT, # 128625, Petitioner,
JEFFERSON S. DUNN, et al., Respondents.
RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE
CHARLES S. COODY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
case is before the court on a pro se petition for
writ of habeas corpus filed on December 28, 2018, by Ernest
F. Platt (“Platt”), a state inmate at the
Fountain Correctional Center in Atmore, Alabama. Doc. # 1.
Platt styles his petition as one for relief under 28 U.S.C.
§ 2241. Id. at 1. Under an order of this court,
however, Platt's petition has been construed and docketed
as a petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254. See Doc. # 2. Platt is incarcerated
under a conviction for first-degree rape entered by the
Circuit Court of Mobile County in 1981. The trial court
sentenced Platt to life in prison, but Platt maintains he was
later resentenced to 30 years in prison pursuant to §
13A-5-9.1, Ala. Code 1975. See Doc. # 1 at 2. In his
petition, which is no model of clarity, Platt claims his
sentence has expired and that he is entitled to be released
from prison. Id. at 2-3. Platt also argues, somewhat
inconsistent with his claim that his sentence has expired,
that the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles
(“Board”) is improperly applying state laws
enacted after his sentencing to deny him parole, effectively
rendering his sentence to one of life without parole.
Id. Platt maintains that the laws in effect when he
was sentenced are the ones that control his eligibility for
parole and that the Board should immediately grant him a
parole hearing. Id. at 4. For the reasons that
follow, the Magistrate Judge finds that Platt's §
2254 petition should be transferred to the United States
District Court for the Southern District of Alabama.
Platt's Filing Is Properly Treated as a 28 U.S.C. §
is in custody under a sentence imposed for his first-degree
rape conviction by the Mobile County Circuit Court.
Therefore, the appropriate vehicle for him to challenge the
validity of his incarceration and the Board's decision
denying him parole is a petition for writ of habeas corpus
under 28 U.S.C. § 2254.
[T]he language of § 2254, which covers state
prisoners, is broad and applies to all “person[s] in
custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court.” 28
U.S.C. § 22554(a). Because § 2254 is sufficiently
expansive to address both validity [of custody] challenges
and manner [of execution] challenges, state prisoners need
not resort to § 2241 to bring [either type of] challenge
. . .; § 2254 petitions accomplish this task. As the
Second Circuit has stated:
A claim [under Section 2254] that [a state prisoner] is
“in custody” in violation of federal laws is
broader than a claim that the imposition of one's
sentence is illegal. A federal due process challenge claiming
state incarceration beyond that authorized by a judgment and
sentence would fall within this broader category of claims.
The plain language of the pertinent statutes indicates,
therefore, that a federal prisoner may challenge the
imposition, but not the execution, of a sentence under
Section 2255, while a state prisoner may challenge either the
imposition or the execution of a sentence under Section 2254.
James v. Walsh, 308 F.3d 162, 167 (2d Cir. 2002).
This conclusion, that § 2254 is the proper vehicle to
challenge a state prisoner's [custody], is congruent with
Supreme Court precedent. See Felker v. Turpin, 518
U.S. 651, 662 (1996) [ ] (“[A]uthority to grant habeas
relief to state prisoners is limited
Indeed, each circuit court to consider this issue has
concluded that § 2254 is the sole vehicle available to
state prisoners challenging either the validity or execution
of their state [confinement]. See Cook [v. New York State
Division of Parole], 321 F.3d [274, ] at 278 [(2d Cir.
2003)] (petition challenging denial of state parole);
Coady [v. Vaughn], 251 F.3d [480, ] at 484-85 [(3d
Cir. 2001)] (same); Crouch v. Norris, 251 F.3d 720,
722-23 (8th Cir. 2001) (petition questioning
constitutionality of denial of state parole). . . . These
cases hold that “[a] state prisoner . . . not only may,
but according to the terms of section 2254 must, bring a
challenge to [the validity of his incarceration] . . . under
section 2254.” Cook, 321 F.3d at 278. We
believe this to be a proper statement of the avenues of
habeas relief available to state prisoners seeking federal
review of their state court [custody, conviction, or]
Malloy v. Riley, et al., Civil Action No.
4:02-79-IPJ (N.D. Ala. 2003), 82 Fed.Appx. 222 (Aug. 26,
2003) (table), Doc. 23 at 6-8; see Cook v. Baker,
139 Fed.Appx. 167, 169 (11th Cir. 2005) (Where state prisoner
appeared to challenge the propriety of his conviction and
sentence as well as the parole board's retroactive
application of a policy allegedly requiring him to serve
ninety percent of his punishment, the “exclusive remedy
for [state prisoner's] claim is to file a habeas corpus
petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 since his claim
challenges the propriety of his conviction and sentence, as
well as the execution of his sentence[.]”). Platt's
petition is properly treated as a petition for writ of habeas
corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254.
This Court Lacks Jurisdiction to Rule on Platt's §
28 U.S.C. § 2241(d) provides:
Where an application for a writ of habeas corpus is made by a
person in custody under the judgment and sentence of a State
court of a State which contains two or more Federal judicial
districts, the application may be filed in the district court
for the district wherein such person is in custody or in the
district court for the district within which the State court
was held which convicted and sentenced him ...