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Smith v. United States

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Northwestern Division

March 15, 2019

JERRY SMITH, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          SHARON LOVELACE BLACKBURN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This case is presently pending before the court on Application for Writ of Habeas Corpus Under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 [hereinafter Application], filed by petitioner Jerry Smith. (Doc. 1; crim. doc. 37.)[1] Smith has previously filed a § 2255 Motion to Vacate attacking his conviction and sentence. He contends that the savings clause of § 2255[2] allows his claim to proceed pursuant to § 2241. The court disagrees.

         In this circuit -

         In a federal habeas proceeding under § 2241, the applicability of § 2255(e)'s saving clause is “a threshold jurisdictional issue, ” and the saving clause “imposes a subject-matter jurisdictional limit” on § 2241 applications. Samak v. Warden, FCC Coleman-Medium, 766 F.3d 1271, 1273 (11th Cir. 2014) (per curiam). We review the applicability of § 2255(e)'s saving clause de novo. McCarthan v. Dir. of Goodwill Indus.-Suncoast, Inc., 851 F.3d 1076, 1081 (2017), cert. denied sub nom., ___U.S. __, 138 S.Ct. 502, 199 L.Ed.2d 385 (2017). . . .

         Ordinarily, a federal prisoner may attack the validity of his conviction or sentence by filing a motion to vacate under § 2255. Sawyer v. Holder, 326 F.3d 1363, 1365 (11th Cir. 2003). Under § 2255(e)'s saving clause, a prisoner may seek relief through a § 2241 habeas application only if “the remedy by [§ 2255] motion is inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of his detention, ” which is the petitioner's burden to establish. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e); McCarthan, 851 F.3d at 1081. In McCarthan, we concluded that the saving clause permits a federal prisoner to proceed under § 2241 only when: (1) he is “challeng[ing] the execution of his sentence, such as the deprivation of good-time credits or parole determinations”; (2) “the sentencing court [was] unavailable, ” such as when the sentencing court itself has been dissolved; or (3) “practical considerations (such as multiple sentencing courts) might prevent a petitioner from filing a motion to vacate.” 851 F.3d at 1092-93.

         The saving clause, however, does not allow access to § 2241 simply because a claim is barred by the rule against second or successive § 2255 motions. Id. at 1092. Consequently, a petitioner who has filed a previous § 2255 motion that has been denied may not circumvent the restriction on successive § 2255 motions by filing an application under § 2241. Id. at 1091-92.

         Even liberally construing [petitioner's] claims, as we must, his argument that he is “actually innocent” . . . attacks the substance of his convictions and accompanying sentences, and thus falls outside the scope of § 2255(e)'s saving clause as interpreted in McCarthan. Accordingly, we conclude that the district court properly dismissed his application for lack of jurisdiction.

         Additionally, unlike § 2255 motions, § 2241 applications must be brought 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). Any other district court lacks jurisdiction over a § 2241 application. Id. . . .

Zater v. Warden, FCI Miami Low, 740 Fed.Appx. 178, 179-80 (11th Cir. 2018), pet. for cert, filed (NO. 18-7022), Nov 26, 2018.[3] “[Section] 2241 provides a very limited basis for habeas actions for federal prisoners in that it allows prisoners to attack the execution of a sentence rather than the sentence or conviction itself.” Annamalai v. Warden, No. 18-10548, 2019 WL 245813, *4 (11th Cir. Jan. 17, 2019)(citing Antonelli v. Warden, U.S.P. Atlanta, 542 F.3d 1348, 1351-52 (11th Cir. 2008))(emphasis added; footnote omitted).

         Smith challenges his conviction and sentence on the ground that he is actually innocent. Thus the court finds that Smith's Application is in the nature of a § 2255 Motion to Vacate. Previously, Smith had filed a Motion to Vacate raising a claim of innocence based on the victim's recantation, see Smith v. United States, No. 3:13-CV-8002, doc. 6 at 5 (N.D. Ala. Jan. 10, 2014).

         Section 2244(a) states, “No . . . district judge shall be required to entertain an application for a writ of habeas corpus to inquire into the detention of a person pursuant to a judgment of a court of the United States if it appears that the legality of such detention has been determined by a judge or court of the United States on a prior application for a writ of habeas corpus, except as provided in section 2255.”[4] 28 U.S.C. § 2244(a). “Before a second or successive application permitted by this section is filed in the district court, the applicant shall move in the appropriate court of appeals for an order authorizing the district court to consider the application.” Id. (b)(3)(A). “Without authorization, the district court lacks jurisdiction to consider a second or successive petition.” United States v. Holt, 417 F.3d 1172, 1175 (11th Cir. 2005)(citing Farris v. United States, 333 F.3d 1211, 1216 (11th Cir. 2003)). “[Section] 2244(a) applies to any petition for habeas relief attacking the legality of the same detention, and § 2244(b)(3) requires that the petitioner obtain permission from the court of appeals before filing any second or successive petition attacking the same detention.” McKinney v. Warden, FCC Coleman-Medium, 870 F.Supp.2d 1351, 1354 (M.D. Fla. 2012)(citing Darby v. Hawk-Sawyer, 405 F.3d 942 (11th Cir.2005)), aff'd, 562 Fed.Appx. 917 (11th Cir. 2014).

         Therefore, Smith must receive permission to file a second or successive Motion to Vacate before this court has jurisdiction to consider such Motion. See 28 U.S.C. § 2255(h). Nothing in the Application indicates that Smith has permission to proceed with a second or successive § 2255 Motion to Vacate alleging innocence based on the victim's recantation. Therefore, this court is without jurisdiction to consider his Application as a § 2255 Motion to Vacate and this case is due to be dismissed.

         Nevertheless, assuming the Application is considered pursuant to § 2241, Smith is required to file the § 2241 Application in the district court for the district in which he is incarcerated. “[M]otions made pursuant to §2241 must be brought ‘only in the district court for the district in which the inmate is incarcerated.'” United States v. Kinsey, 393 Fed.Appx. 663, 664 (11th Cir. 2010)(quoting Fernandez v. United States, 941 F.2d 1488, 1495 (11th Cir. 1991); citing 28 U.S.C. § 2241(d)); see also United States v. Brown, 748 Fed.Appx. 286, 287 (11th Cir. 2019)(citing Fernandez, 941 F.2d at 1495). Smith is incarcerated in Forrest City, Arkansas, which is with the Eastern District of Arkansas. Therefore, this court does not have jurisdiction over his § 2241 application. See Fernandez, 941 F.2d at 1495.

         For these reasons, this court does not have jurisdiction to consider Smith's Application, either as a § 2255 Motion to Vacate or as a § 2241 Application. Therefore, his ...


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