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Campbell v. Shartle

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

April 11, 2014

GERALD LYNN CAMPBELL, Petitioner,
v.
J.T. SHARTLE, Respondent.

OPINION

ROBERT B. KUGLER, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Petitioner is a federal prisoner currently incarcerated at F.C.I. Fairton in Fairton, New Jersey. He is currently serving a sentence of 300 months imprisonment after he was convicted by a jury in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee of possession with the intent to distribute crack cocaine, using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime and possessing a firearm as a felon. He is proceeding pro se with a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. For the following reasons, the habeas petition will be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.

II. BACKGROUND

Petitioner received a 300-month prison sentence in the Eastern District of Tennessee in 1995. Petitioner's appeal was affirmed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. See United States v. Campbell ( Campbell I ), No. 95-5191, 1995 WL 699614 (6th Cir. Nov. 27, 1995).[1] In 2009, petitioner filed a motion to vacate, set aside or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 in the Eastern District of Tennessee. Petitioner argued in that motion that his sentence should to be lowered as Congress and the Department of Justice had recognized the need to address the disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine. See Campbell v. United States ( Campbell II ), Crim. No. 93-19, 2009 WL 3415162, at *1 (E.D. Tenn. Oct. 19, 2009). Ultimately, the Eastern District of Tennessee determined that petitioner's § 2255 motion was time-barred. See id. at 2-3.

Petitioner has now filed the instant habeas petition in this Court pursuant to § 2241.[2] He claims in his petition that he is entitled to resentencing as a prior Tennessee state conviction for aggravated assault was improperly categorized as a violent felony in his federal criminal proceedings. This state conviction was used to classify him as a career offender under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, thereby increasing his federal sentence.

III. 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).

IV. DISCUSSION

Petitioner is challenging the federal criminal sentence he received in the Eastern District of Tennessee in this § 2241 habeas action. Generally, a challenge to the validity of a federal conviction or sentence must be brought under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. See Jackman v. Shartle, 535 F.Appx. 87, 88 (3d Cir. 2013) (per curiam) (citing 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 § 2255 is "inadequate or ineffective." See 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e). Indeed, § 2255(e) states that:

[a]n application for a writ of habeas corpus in behalf of a prisoner who is authorized to apply for relief by motion pursuant to this section, shall not be entertained if it appears that the applicant has failed to apply for relief, by motion, to the court which sentenced him, or that such a court has denied him relief, unless it also appears that the remedy by the motion is inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of his detention.

28 U.S.C. § 2255(e). A § 2255 motion is "inadequate or ineffective, " which permits a petitioner to resort to a § 2241 petition, "only where the petitioner demonstrates that some limitation or procedure would prevent a § 2255 proceeding from affording him a full hearing and adjudication of his wrongful [sentence] claim." Cradle v. U.S. ex rel. Miner, 290 F.3d 536, 538 (3d Cir. 2002) (citations omitted). However, "[s]ection 2255 is not inadequate or ineffective merely because the sentencing court does not grant relief, the one-year statute of limitations has expired, or the petitioner is unable to meet the stringent gatekeeping requirements of... § 2255." Cradle, 290 F.3d at 539 (citations omitted). "It is the inefficacy of the remedy, not the personal inability to use it, that is determinative." Id. at 538 (citation omitted). "The provision ...


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