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Matos-Luchi v. Hollingsworth

United States District Court, Third Circuit

May 29, 2013

EPIFANIO MATOS-LUCHI, 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 Fort Dix, New Jersey. He has filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241.[1] On January 11, 2013, this matter was administratively closed as petitioner failed to either pay the requisite filing fee or an application to proceed in forma pauperis. However, on January 14, 2013, petitioner paid the filing fee. Therefore, the Clerk will be ordered to reopen the case.

Petitioner was seized while on board a vessel at sea and found to be in violation of the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act, ("MDLEA") 46 U.S.C. § 70501, et seq. After a jury trial in the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico, petitioner was convicted of conspiracy with intent to distribute cocaine and possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Petitioner was sentenced to 235 months imprisonment.[2] For the following reasons, the court will summarily dismiss the petition for lack of jurisdiction.

II. BACKGROUND

In May 2007, the United States Coast Guard seized petitioner on board a vessel thirty-five (35) miles from the Dominican Republic coast. Petitioner was prosecuted under the MDLEA and convicted after a jury trial. In December 2010, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit affirmed. See United States v. Matos-Luchi, 627 F.3d 1 (1st Cir. 2010). Thereafter, in December 2011, petitioner filed a motion to vacate, set aside or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 in the District of Puerto Rico. That court denied petitioner's § 2255 motion in May 2012. See Matos-Luchi v. United States, Civ. No. 11-2230, 2012 WL 1854027 (D.P.R. May 21, 2012).

Petitioner filed the instant habeas petition in this Court in December 2012. He argues that the District of Puerto Rico 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 he 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 ...


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