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Matute-Santos v. Hollingsworth

United States District Court, Third Circuit

May 29, 2013

GERARDO MATUTE-SANTOS, Petitioner,
v.
JORDAN R. HOLLINGSWORTH, Respondent.

OPINION

RENÉE MARIE BUMB, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Petitioner is a federal inmate confined at FCI Fort Dix in New Jersey. He has filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241.[1] Petitioner was seized while on board a vessel and found to be in violation of the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act, ("MDLEA") 46 U.S.C. § 70501, et seq. Petitioner pled guilty in the for the Middle District of Florida to one count of knowingly and willfully conspiring to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of a substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine and one count of knowingly and willfully possessing with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine. Petitioner was sentenced on December 17, 2004 to 168 months imprisonment.[2] For the following reasons, the court will summarily dismiss the petition for lack of jurisdiction.

II. BACKGROUND

In April 2004, the United States Coast Guard seized petitioner on board a vessel eighty (80) miles from the Panama coast. Petitioner was prosecuted under the MDLEA. He pled guilty and was sentenced in December 2004. In March 2006, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed. See United States v. Matute-Santos, 168 Fed.Appx. 343 (11th Cir. 2006) (per curiam). Thereafter, in April 2006, petitioner filed a motion to vacate, set aside or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 in the Middle District of Florida. That court denied petitioner's § 2255 motion in June 2006. See Matute-Santos v. United States, Civ. No. 06-793, 2006 WL 1679122 (M.D. Fla. June 14, 2006).

Petitioner filed the instant habeas petition in this Court in December 2012. He argues that the Middle District of Florida lacked jurisdiction to impose a sentence and that the actions for which he was convicted are no longer criminal. Petitioner relies on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit decision in United States v. Bellaizac-Hurtado, 700 F.3d 1245 (11th Cir. 2012) to support his arguments. Petitioner contends that cannot raise these issues in a § 2255 motion and is therefore seeking relief in this Court pursuant to § 2241.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Standard for Sua Sponte Dismissal

With respect to screening the instant petition, 28 U.S.C. § 2243 provides in relevant part:

A court, justice or judge entertaining an application for a writ of habeas corpus shall forthwith award the writ or issue an order directing the respondent to show cause why the writ should not be granted, unless it appears from the application that the applicant or person detained is not entitled thereto.

As petitioner is proceeding pro se, his petition is held to less stringent standards than those pleadings drafted by lawyers. See Rainey v. Varner, 603 F.3d 189, 198 (3d Cir. 2010) ("It is the policy of the courts to give a liberal construction to pro se habeas petitions.") (internal quotation marks and citation omitted); United States v. Otero, 502 F.3d 331, 334 (3d Cir. 2007) ("we construe pro se pleadings liberally.") (citing Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972)). Nevertheless, "a district court is authorized to dismiss a [habeas] petition summarily when it plainly appears from the face of the petition and any exhibits annexed to it that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court[.]" Lonchar v. Thomas, 517 U.S. 314, 320 (1996).

Additionally, as petitioner has previously unsuccessfully sought relief pursuant to a § 2255 motion, "[b]efore a second or successive [§ 2255] 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." 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(3)(A); see also 28 U.S.C. § 2255(h).

B. Jurisdiction

Generally, a challenge to the validity of a federal conviction or sentence must be brought under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. See Okereke v. United States, 307 F.3d 117, 120 (3d Cir. 2002). This is generally true because § 2255 prohibits a district court from entertaining a challenge to a prisoner's federal sentence through § 2241 unless the remedy under § ...


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