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Canini v. United States

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

July 6, 2017

RUBEN CANINI, Petitioner,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, et al., Respondents.

          Ruben Canini, Petitioner Pro se


          NOEL L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.

         Petitioner Ruben Canini, a prisoner confined at the Federal Correctional Institution (“FCI”) in Fairton, New Jersey, filed this writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241, challenging a sentencing enhancement. (ECF No. 1). At this time, the Court will review the Petition pursuant to Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases, (amended Dec. 1, 2004), made applicable to § 2241 petitions through Rule 1(b) of the Habeas Rules. See also 28 U.S.C. § 2243. For the reasons set forth below, the Petition will be dismissed.[1]

         I. BACKGROUND

         The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York summarized the procedural history of Petitioner's criminal case as follows:

On June 15, 2006, Canini was convicted by a jury of one count of conspiracy to distribute one kilogram of heroin and two counts of distributing and possessing with intent to distribute heroin. He has been quite diligent in attacking his conviction. After trial, he moved for a judgment of acquittal and a new trial on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence to convict him and that the testimony of two cooperating witnesses should be disregarded as inconsistent. The Court denied these motions. Thereafter, Canini was sentenced to 240 months of incarceration. On January 22, 2009, the Second Circuit affirmed Canini's conviction.
Canini then commenced a series of attacks on his conviction. On May 14, 2010, Canini filed a 28 U.S.C. § 2255 petition, seeking to vacate his sentence because of ineffective assistance of counsel, which the Court denied on March 12, 2012. The Court also denied Canini's motion to amend his section 2255 petition, finding that amendment would be futile because the claim, even as amended, failed on the merits. On September 25, 2013, Canini filed a second 2255 petition, arguing that the Court's jury instruction regarding conspiracy denied him due process of law, and that his Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial was violated because the Court calculated his offense level based on facts not found by the jury in violation of Alleyne v. U.S., 133 S.Ct. 2151 (2013). The Court transferred this motion to the Second Circuit pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1631, because the Court lacked jurisdiction over Canini's successive petition. The Second Circuit denied the petition because Canini did not file the application within the specified time frame.

Canini v. United States, No. 04-283, 2015 WL 4509684, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. July 24, 2015) (internal citations omitted). Petitioner then filed a Petition for a Writ of Coram Nobis/Writ of Audita Querela, which was denied by the district court in 2015. Id. Petitioner also states that he filed a motion for a reduction in sentence pursuant to Amendment 782, which was denied on April 27, 2016. (Pet. 4.) He further states that on June 28, 2016, he filed a second 2255 motion pursuant to United States v. Johnson, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015), which was still pending at the time he filed this matter.

         In January 2017, Petitioner filed the instant Petition. (ECF No. 1.) Petitioner argues that “he is actually innocent of Title 21 U.S.C. § 851 because it relied upon a prior New York State felony drug conviction for Attempt Criminal Sale of a Controlled. Substance in the Third Degree that was replaced by a youthful offender finding pursuant to New York Criminal Procedural law Section 720.20(3)(establishing the procedures for a youthful offender determination).” (Pet. 1.)


         A. Legal Standard

         With respect to screening the instant habeas 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). 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 ...

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