United States District Court, D. New Jersey
ROBERT B. KUGLER, District Judge.
Petitioner is a federal prisoner currently incarcerated at F.C.I. Fort Dix in Fort Dix, New Jersey. Petitioner was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to import with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and one count of conspiracy with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. In 2006, he received a sentence of 210 months imprisonment. He is proceeding pro se with a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. On April 28, 2014, the Court administratively terminated this case as petitioner had neither paid the $5.00 filing fee nor submitted an application to proceed in forma pauperis. Subsequently, petitioner paid the $5.00 filing fee. Therefore, the Clerk will be ordered to reopen this case. For the following reasons, the habeas petition will be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.
Petitioner received a 210-month prison sentence from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York in April, 2006 for his crimes. ( See E.D.N.Y. Crim. No. 03-1368-25, Dkt. No. 408.) The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the judgment and conviction in August, 2009. ( See id. Dkt. No. 528.). Petitioner then filed a motion to vacate, set aside or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 in the Eastern District of New York in August, 2010. ( See E.D.N.Y. Civ. No. 10-3914.) In that motion, petitioner raised ineffective assistance of counsel claims. Ultimately, the Eastern District of New York denied the § 2555 motion on the merits. ( See id. Dkt. No. 11.) The Second Circuit denied a certificate of appealability in May, 2012. ( See id. Dkt. No. 15.)
Petitioner has now filed the instant habeas petition in this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. He claims the Eastern District of New York court erred in sentencing him by finding that he was the leader or organizer of a criminal scheme which resulted in a four-level increase to his Sentencing Guidelines level as well as finding that he was criminally responsible for 124 kilograms of cocaine found in a September 20, 2003 intercepted shipment. Additionally, he claims that the Eastern District of New York erred in denying his ineffective assistance of counsel claims raised in his previous § 2255 motion.
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).
Petitioner is challenging the criminal conviction and sentence he received in the Eastern District of New York in this § 2241 federal 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 detention 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 ...