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Allen v. Warden (S.S.C.F.)

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

May 12, 2014

OSOHADA R. ALLEN, Petitioner,
v.
WARDEN (S.S.C.F.), Respondent.

OPINION

ROBERT B. KUGLER, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Petitioner is a state prisoner currently incarcerated at the Southern State Correctional Facility in Delmont, New Jersey. He is proceeding pro se with a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Petitioner's application to proceed in forma pauperis will be granted for the reasons stated therein. For the following reasons, the habeas petition will be dismissed.

II. BACKGROUND

Petitioner challenges a state criminal sentence imposed on him. The petition does not state the length of the sentence nor does it state what the sentence is for. Nevertheless, petitioner claims that the sentence is excessive and illegal. Furthermore, he notes that the New Jersey Supreme Court denied certification on March 13, 2013.

Petitioner previously filed in this Court a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 on his state conviction and sentence.[1] ( See Civ. No. 13-3387.) In that case, petitioner provided the Court with more information that he does in this petition. Specifically, in that case, petitioner noted that he was sentenced on September 6, 2011 to a twelve-year term for a second-degree eluding charge. ( See id. Dkt. No. 8 at p. 2.) In that case, petitioner stated that he did not plead to any extended term of incarceration and that there was never any motion by the prosecution seeking to impose an extended term on him. ( See id. ) The Court denied petitioner's prior § 2254 petition on November 6, 2013, concluding that petitioner did not raise any valid constitutional claims. ( See Civ. No. 13-3387, Dkt. No. 8 at p. 3.) Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration in that case which was denied. ( See id. Dkt. Nos. 12 & 13.) Petitioner did not appeal.

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) ("[W]e 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

Section 2241 of Title 28 of the United States Code confers jurisdiction on district courts to issue a writ of habeas corpus in response to a petition from a prisoner who is "in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3). Section 2254 confers jurisdiction on district courts to issue "writs of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a state court ... on the ground that he is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a) (emphasis added).

In Coady v. Vaughn, 251 F.3d 480 (3d Cir. 2001), a Pennsylvania state prisoner filed habeas petitions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 2241 and 2254 which challenged a decision of the state parole board denying his application for release on parole. Ultimately, the Third Circuit determined that Coady must rely on § 2254 instead of § 2241. Indeed, the Third Circuit explained that:

It is a well-established canon of statutory construction that when two statutes cover the same situation, the more specific statute takes precedence over the more general one.... The rationale for this cannon is that a general provision should not be applied "when doing so would undermine limitations created by a more specific provision." In the instant case, both Sections 2241 and 2254 authorize Coady's challenge to the legality of his continued state custody. However, with respect to habeas petitions filed by state prisoners pursuant to Section 2254, Congress has restricted the availability of second and successive petitions through Section 2244(b). Allowing Coady to file the instant petition in federal court pursuant to Section 2241 without reliance on Section 2254 would circumvent this particular restriction in the event that Coady seeks to repetition for habeas relief and would ...

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