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Charles A. v. Green

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

July 10, 2018

CHARLES A., Petitioner,
v.
CHARLES GREEN, Respondent.

          OPINION

          HON. SUSAN D. WIGENTON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Presently before the Court is the pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus of Petitioner, Charles A., filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. (ECF No. 1). Following an order to answer, the Government filed a response to the Petition (ECF No. 8), to which Petitioner has replied. (ECF No. 9). For the following reasons, this Court will deny Petitioner's habeas petition without prejudice.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Petitioner is a native and citizen of Haiti who was initially admitted to the United States as an immigrant in August 2012. (Document 1 attached to ECF No. 8 at 6). On February 14, 2017, Petitioner was convicted in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Essex County, of aggravated criminal sexual contact and criminal restraint. (Id.). For these crimes, Petitioner received a five year suspended prison sentence and was placed on parole supervision for life. (Id. at 10). Following his release on his suspended sentence into parole supervision, Petitioner was taken into custody by immigration officials on June 7, 2017. (Document 2 attached to ECF No. 8 at 2). He was thereafter served with a notice to appear for removal proceedings on June 12, 2017 charging him with removability based on his criminal history. (Id.). Petitioner was thereafter held pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1226(c), and has remained incarcerated since June 2017 under that statute. (Id.).

         While incarcerated, Petitioner has appeared before the immigration courts for removal proceedings on multiple occasions. The first proceeding occurred on June 27, 2017, when Petitioner's hearings were adjourned so that Petitioner could prepare and acquire counsel. (Document 3 attached to ECF No. 8 at 2). Petitioner thereafter filed a motion for a continuance on July 31, 2017, resulting in his proceedings being adjourned until August 22, 2017. (Id.). On August 22, 2017, Petitioner once again requested an adjournment so that he could prepare his applications for relief, which was granted. (Id.). Petitioner sought and received another continuance in September 2017. (Id.). When Petitioner sought yet another continuance on October 18, 2017, however, the immigration judge denied his request. (Id.). On October 24, 2017, the immigration judge determined that an individual merits hearing was necessary, and adjourned the proceedings until December 7, 2017. (Id.). When Petitioner appeared on that date he once again requested and was granted a continuance until February 2018. (Id.). Petitioner thereafter filed two further continuance requests, resulting in his hearing being adjourned until May 2018. (Id. at 2-3). It is not clear whether Petitioner appeared for his hearing in May 2018 from the record before this Court. Notwithstanding, it is clear that as of May 1, 2018, Petitioner's immigration proceedings had barely begun to proceed and that the delays in Petitioner's case over the last year are almost entirely the result of Petitioner's own requests. (Id. at 2-3).

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Legal Standard

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c), habeas relief may be extended to a prisoner only when he “is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3). A federal court has jurisdiction over such a petition if the petitioner is “in custody” and the custody is allegedly “in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3); Maleng v. Cook, 490 U.S. 488, 490 (1989). As Petitioner is currently detained within this Court's jurisdiction, by a custodian within the Court's jurisdiction, and asserts that his continued detention violates due process, this Court has jurisdiction over his claims. Spencer v. Kemna, 523 U.S. 1, 7 (1998); Braden v. 30th Judicial Circuit Court, 410 U.S. 484, 494-95, 500 (1973); see also Zadvydas v. Davis, 533 U.S. 678, 699 (2001).

         B. Analysis

         1. Petitioner is properly subject to detention under 8 U.S.C. § 1226(c)

         Although Petitioner's original habeas petition was largely concerned with the propriety of his continued detention pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1226(c), in his reply brief he belatedly argues that he should not be subject to detention under § 1226(c) because he was never “released” from criminal custody and thus the authority to detain him under the statute never arose. Petitioner's argument is utterly without merit. Section 1226(c) states that immigration officials “shall take into custody any alien” who is either deportable or inadmissible because of his having committed certain classes of criminal offense “when the alien is released, without regard to whether the alien is released on parole, supervised release, or probation, and without regard to whether the alien may be arrested or imprisoned again for the same offense.” Petitioner contends that, because he received a suspended sentence and thus was not placed into a prison from which he could be “released, ” he does not fall within the statute's command. The statute itself refutes this argument. As the statute makes abundantly and perfectly clear, an alien who is placed on “parole, supervised release, or probation” after his criminal sentencing has been “released” within the meaning of the statute. Regardless of whether Petitioner was released on bail prior to his criminal sentencing, at the time of his sentencing he was in state custody, and his placement on parole for life with a suspended sentence was a “release” within the meaning of the statute sufficient to trigger his susceptibility to detention under 8 U.S.C. § 1226(c). Petitioner readily admits that he committed a qualifying offense, and thus his release into parole supervision triggered the Government's authority to detain him without bail under the statute. Petitioner's contention to the contrary is no more than a self-serving misinterpretation of the word “released.” The statutory text clearly establishes that his placement on parole supervision after a suspended sentence qualifies as a “release.” Likewise, to the extent Petitioner contends that his arrest by immigration officials five months after his sentence deprives immigration officials of the authority to detain him because he was not detained “when released, ” that argument is foreclosed by the Third Circuit's ruling in Sylvain v. Attorney Gen. of the United States, 714 F.3d 150, 157-160 (3d Cir. 2013) (holding that a delay between an alien's release and his being arrested pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1226(c) did not deprive immigration officials of authority to hold the alien under § 1226(c) without bond). Petitioner is properly held pursuant to § 1226(c).

         2. Petitioner is not entitled to relief from detention

         In his main claim, Petitioner challenges his continued detention under § 1226(c) pending the conclusion of his removal proceedings. This Court recently summarized the legal basis for a challenge to detention under § 1226(c) in Dryden v. Green, No. 18-2686, 2018 WL 3062909 (D.N.J. June 21, 2018). As this Court explained in that matter,

[t]he Supreme Court first considered the propriety of prolonged detention pursuant to § 1226(c) in Demore v. Kim, 538 U.S. 510 (2003). Upon a review of the statute, the authority of Congress to detain aliens pending removal, and the usual time frame associated with detention under the statute, the Court determined in Demore that the statute was facially constitutional as “[d]etention during removal proceedings is a constitutionally permissible part of that process.” Id. at 531. In reaching this conclusion, the Court noted that in most cases detention under the statute lasted only a month and a half and that even in cases where an appeal was taken to the Board of Immigration Appeals, detention pursuant to § 1226(c) lasted an average of four months, indicating that detention under the statute was often brief and had a defined beginning and end point in the form of the conclusion of removal proceedings. Id. at 529. Ultimately, as the Court found the statute constitutional, the Demore Court rejected Petitioner's challenge even though Petitioner had spent slightly longer than average in detention - a ...

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