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Melter v. Ives

United States District Court, D. Oregon

May 3, 2018

DOUGLAS E. MELTER, Petitioner,
WARDEN IVES, FCI Sheridan, Respondent.


          Marco A. Hernandez United States District Judge

         Petitioner, an inmate at FCI Sheridan, brings this habeas corpus action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. For the reason that follow, the court DENIES the Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus.


         Petitioner was convicted in the District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania on a plea of guilty to charges of Attempting to Induce a Minor to Engage in Illegal Sexual Activity, Possession of Material Depicting the Sexual Exploitation of a Minor, and Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. On August 12, 2013, District Judge Maurice B. Cohill sentenced Petitioner to a term of imprisonment of 360 months. Petitioner appealed, and on February 25, 2015, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals granted the United States' Motion to Enforce Appellate Waiver by Summary Action.

         On October 2, 2015, Petitioner filed a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct the sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 in the Western District of Pennsylvania. On December 7, 2016, the district court denied his Petition. On April 28, 2017, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals denied a certificate of appealability.

         On January 8, 2018, Petitioner filed his Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 in this court. Petitioner asks this court to vacate his conviction for Possession of a Firearm by a Felon on the basis that he is actually innocent of the charge and the prosecution failed to disclose exculpatory evidence that would show his innocence. The factual basis of Petitioner's claims is a discrepancy in the type of ammunition needed for the weapon in question and the type of ammunition purchased or possessed by Petitioner.


         Habeas petitions brought under § 2241 are subject to summary dismissal pursuant to Rules 1(b) and 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases. Under Rule 1(b), the Rules Governing § 2254 Cases apply to habeas corpus petitions brought pursuant to § 2241. Under Rule 4, the court must undertake a preliminary review of each petition for writ of habeas corpus. Upon such review, "[i]f it plainly appears from the face of the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court, the judge must dismiss the petition and direct the clerk to notify the petitioner."

         A federal court may not consider a habeas action over which it has no jurisdiction. Hernandez v. Campbell, 204 F.3d 861, 865 (9th Cir. 2000). "[T]o determine whether jurisdiction is proper, a court must first determine whether a habeas petition is filed pursuant to § 2241 or § 225 5 before proceeding to any other issue." Hernandez, 204 F.3d at 865.

         A federal prisoner may challenge the manner, location, or conditions of a sentence's execution by filing a petition pursuant to § 2241 in the "custodial court, " that is, the court of the district in which he is incarcerated. Stephens v. Herrera, 464 F.3d 895, 897 (9th Cir. 2006); Hernandez, 204 F.3d at 864-65. If the prisoner challenges the legality of his conviction or sentence as Petitioner does here, however, a motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, filed in the court of conviction, is the exclusive means by which he may test the legality of his detention. Stephens, 464 F.3d at 897; Tripati v. Henman, 843 F.2d 1160, 1161-62 (9th Cir. 1988). Generally, a prisoner may not collaterally attack a federal conviction or sentence by filing a petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 in the custodial court, as Petitioner seeks to do in this case. Tripati, 843 F.2d at 1162.

         An exception to the general rule, commonly referred to as the "escape hatch" or the "savings clause, " "permits a federal prisoner to file a habeas corpus petition pursuant to § 2241 to contest the legality of a sentence where his remedy under § 2255 is inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of his detention." Stephens, 464 F.3d at 897 (citations and internal quotations omitted); see also 28 U.S.C. § 2255. The exception is very narrow. Ivy v. Pontesso, 328 F.3d 1057, 1059 (9th Cir. 2003). " [A] prisoner may file a § 2241 petition under the escape hatch when the prisoner (1) makes a claim of actual innocence, and (2) has not had an unobstructed procedural shot at presenting that claim." Marrero v. Ives, 682 F.3d 1190, 1192 (9th Cir. 2012) (internal quotations omitted), cert, denied, 568 U.S. 1173(2013).

         "The general rule in this circuit is that the ban on unauthorized second or successive petitions does notperse make § 2255 'inadequate or ineffective.'" Lorentsen v. Hood, 223 F.3d 950, 953 (9th Cir. 2000) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 2255). The remedy under § 2255 usually will not be deemed inadequate or ineffective merely because a prior § 2255 motion was denied or because a remedy under § 2255 is procedurally barred. See Aronson v. May, 85 S.Ct. 3, 5 (1964) (denial of a prior § 2255 motion is insufficient to render § 2255 inadequate). The burden is on the petitioner to show that the remedy is inadequate or ineffective. Redfield v. United States, 315 F.2d 76, 83 (9th Cir. 1963).


         I. Construction of the Petition as ...

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