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Robinson v. Shartle

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

September 5, 2014

JOHN ROBINSON, Petitioner,
J. T. SHARTLE, et al., Respondents.


RENÉE MARIE BUMB, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court upon Petitioner's motion, see Docket Entry No. 7, seeking reconsideration of this Court's order docketed as Docket Entry No. 6.

On September 23, 2013, Petitioner, a federal inmate confined at the FCI Fairton, see, submitted a § 2254 petition ("Petition") to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania ("E.D. Pa."). See Docket Entry No. 1. In his Petition, he asserted that he was a state, rather than a federal, inmate and challenged his New Jersey state conviction imposed on June 12, 1992, upon Petitioner's guilty plea. See id. at 4.[1]

Petitioner clarified that the sentence at issue was a four-year term, see id., i.e., the term which, unless the service of that sentence was deferred, had to expire at the very latest, on June 11, 1996, that is, about seventeen and a half years ago .[2] The Petition arrived unaccompanied by Petitioner's filing fee or his application to proceed in this matter in forma pauperis. See generally, Docket.

Two months after Petitioner's commencement of his E.D. Pa. Action, i.e., on November 25, 2013, the E.D. Pa. directed transfer of his Petition to this District. This matter was commenced upon the Clerk's receipt of that transfer order.[3] See Docket Entry No. 4.

However, prior to the E.D. Pa.'s transfer, Petitioner commenced another § 2254 action in this District. See Robinson v. Shartle ("Robinson-I"), Civil Action No. 13-6976 (KM) (D.N.J.).[4] Since Petitioner's Robinson-I action and the instant matter appeared substantively identical, this Court directed administrative termination of this matter as duplicative of Robinson-I, without assessment of the filing fee in connection with this matter. In addition, this Court noted,

in passing, that the Petition [here] was deficient on multiple grounds: (a) being facially untimely since April 24, 1997, the date of expiration of the "grace" period allowed by the AEDPA, see Douglas v. Horn , 359 F.3d 257, 261 n.5 (3d Cir. 2004); Long v. Wilson , 393 F.3d 390, 394-95 (3d Cir. 2004); see also Evans v. Chavis , 546 U.S. 189, 191 (2006); Artuz v. Bennett , 531 U.S. 4, 8-9 (2000); Jenkins v. Superintendent of Laurel Highlands , 705 F.3d 80 (3d Cir. 2013); (b) falling outside § 2254 jurisdiction on the grounds of Petitioner's failure to meet the in-custody requirement, see 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a); Maleng v. Cook , 490 U.S. 488, 490 (1989); DeFoy v. McCullough , 393 F.3d 439, 442 (3d Cir. 2005); Dessus v. Commonwealth of Penn. , 452 F.2d 557, 559-60 (3d Cir. 1971), cert. denied, 409 U.S. 853 (1972); (c) being not amenable to a construction as Petitioner's application for coram nobis relief (in light of federal courts' lack of jurisdiction to grant such relief with regard to the challenges attacking state convictions), Goodman v. United States, 140 F.App'x 436, 437 (3d Cir. 2005); (d) substantively meritless in light of the nature of Petitioner's claims, see Hill v. Lockhart , 474 U.S. 52, 60 (1985) (a defendant who pleads guilty upon the advice of counsel "may only attack the voluntary and intelligent character of the guilty plea"); and (e) not warranting issuance of a certificate of appealability, see Miller-El v. Cockrell , 537 U.S. 322 (2003); Slack v. McDaniel , 529 U.S. 473, 484 (2000).

Docket Entry No. 6, at 3-4, n.5 (original brackets omitted).

However, "find[ing] an administrative termination on the grounds of duplicativeness the most suitable course, " this Court "dispense[d] with a detailed discussion of the aforesaid jurisdictional, procedural and substantive defects." Id.

The motion at bar followed. See Docket Entry No. 7. It asserted that the instant matter was not duplicative of Robinson-I because Petitioner's instant challenges were based on a New Jersey indictment indexed differently than the indictment underlying his Robinson-I challenges. See id.

Although the motion did not clarify whether these different indictments were merged for the purposes of Petitioner's state conviction being attacked (which merger, had it taken place, would render this matter duplicative of Robinson-I, since a § 2254 attack is always on the conviction and sentence, not on a particular indictment), such ambiguity cannot affect the outcome of the analysis at hand since, even if this Court were to presume that Petitioner is challenging one New Jersey conviction in Robinson-I and a completely different New Jersey conviction here, his Petition is subject to dismissal for lack of jurisdiction.

Correspondingly, Petitioner's motion will be granted in form and denied in substance.[5]

As this Court already detailed in its prior decision, Petitioner's challenges are "deficient on multiple grounds, " being untimely, unavailing for the purposes of coram nobis review, substantively meritless for being unrelated to the voluntariness and intelligent character of Petitioner's guilty plea and, in addition, jurisdictionally deficient for failure to meet the "in-custody" requirement.

That failure to meet the "in-custody" requirement prevents this Court from exercising jurisdiction over Petitioner's challenges and, paramount here, renders the Court's analysis on all other deficiencies of his Petition improper. See Ganim v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons , 235 F.App'x 882, 883-84 (3d Cir. 2007) (where a habeas petitioner raised jurisdictionally-deficient claims, and the district court "denied [his] petition [upon] conclud[ing] that [petitioner] had not exhausted his administrative remedies, and alternatively determin[ing] that [petitioner's] claims were without merit, " the Court of Appeals ...

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