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Coleman v. Kirby

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

August 4, 2017

EDWARD COLEMAN, Petitioner,
v.
MARK KIRBY, Respondent.

          OPINION

          ROBERT B. KUGLER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Petitioner is a federal prisoner proceeding pro se with a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Previously, this matter was administratively terminated as petitioner had not paid the filing fee nor had he submitted an application to proceed in forma pauperis. Thereafter, petitioner paid the filing fee and filed a motion to reopen this case. Petitioner's motion to reopen this case will be granted in light of the filing fee that has now been paid. Petitioner argues in his habeas petition that two of his prior convictions do not qualify him as a career offender under the United States Sentencing Guidelines. For the following reasons, the habeas petition will be summarily dismissed.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Petitioner was found guilty by a jury of one count of possession of firearm by a convicted felon and two counts of possession of a controlled substance in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Thereafter, he pled guilty to another count of unlawful possession of a firearm and another count of possession of a controlled substance. In February, 2005, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania sentenced petitioner to 240 months imprisonment. In June, 2006, the Third Circuit affirmed the judgment of conviction.

         In November, 2007, petitioner filed a motion to vacate, set aside or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. In January, 2009, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania denied petitioner's § 2255 motion. Thereafter, the Third Circuit denied a certificate of appealability.

         In 2014, petitioner filed another § 2255 motion in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. However, that petition was dismissed by that court as a second or successive § 2255 motion that lacked the requisite authorization from the Third Circuit to be filed.

         Petitioner filed this habeas petition in this Court in June, 2017. Citing to Mathis v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 2243 (2016), and United States v. Hinkle, 832 F.3d 569 (5th Cir. 2016), petitioner argues that he was improperly given a career offender enhancement under the Sentencing Guidelines as his prior convictions do not support a career offender qualification that enhanced his sentence.

         III. STANDARD FOR SUA SPONTE SCREENING OF HABEAS PETITION

         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); 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, 92 S .Ct. 594, 30 L.Ed.2d 652 (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 seeks to have this Court review the criminal judgment and sentence entered by the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in this § 2241 habeas petition. Generally, a challenge to the validity of a federal conviction or sentence must be brought under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. SeeJackman v. Shartle, 535 F.App'x 87, 88 (3d Cir. 2013) (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 § ...


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