United States District Court, D. New Jersey
JUSTIN D. FOX, Petitioner,
DAVID ORTIZ, Respondent.
B. KUGLER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Justin D. Fox (“Petitioner”), an inmate
incarcerated at FCI Fort Dix, filed an
unsigned Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, purporting to challenge
aspects of his incarceration. The Court has examined the
Petition in accordance with Rule 4 of the Rules Governing
Section 2254 Cases, applicable to § 2241 cases through
Rule 1(b).For the following reasons, the Court will
deny the Petition without prejudice to any right Petitioner
may have to bring a declaratory judgment or other civil
action in an appropriate court.
Court will construe the allegations in the Petition as true
for the purpose of this Opinion. This case arises from the
conditions of Petitioner's incarceration at FCI Fort-Dix.
Petitioner states that throughout his incarceration, until
August of 2016, he had access to the prison's Trust Fund
Limited Inmate Computer System (“TRULINCS”).
TRULINCS provides prisoners with, among other things, some
August 26, 2016, officials notified Petitioner that they were
going to revoke his e-mail privileges. Petitioner states that
throughout his incarceration he never did anything to merit
the revocation. (ECF No. 1-2, at 11). Petitioner then filed a
number of administrative appeals but received a denial at
each stage. The denials reveal that officials revoked his
e-mail privileges because his conviction and the surrounding
circumstances thereof, involved the use of electronic
messaging to accomplish sexual encounters with at least one
minor. (ECF No. 1-2, at 13). It is unclear from the record if
Petitioner's initial access to the e-mail system was an
oversight, or whether the revocation sought to remedy that
September 11, 2018, Petitioner filed the instant Petition,
requesting that the Court reinstate his TRULINCS e-mail
district courts have a pre-service duty under Rule 4 of the
Rules Governing § 2254 Cases in the United States
District Courts, which is applicable to § 2241 petitions
pursuant to Rule 1(b), to screen and summarily dismiss a
habeas petition prior to any answer or other pleading by the
state when the petition “appears legally insufficient
on its face.” McFarland v. Scott, 512 U.S.
849, 856 (1994); see also United States v. Thomas,
221 F.3d 430, 437 (3d Cir. 2000) (explaining that courts may
dismiss petitions where “none of the grounds alleged in
the petition would entitle [the petitioner] to relief).
to the validity of any confinement or to particulars
affecting its duration are the province of habeas corpus;
requests for relief turning on circumstances of confinement
may be presented in a § 1983 [or Bivens]
action.” Muhammad v. Close, 540 U.S. 749, 750
(2004) (internal citation omitted). “[U]nless the claim
would fall within the ‘core of habeas' and require
sooner release if resolved in the plaintiffs favor, a prison
confinement action . . . is properly brought under §
1983” or a Bivens action. Leamer v.
Fauver, 288 F.3d 532, 542 (3d Cir. 2002).
those principles in mind, the Court finds that
Petitioner's claims do not sound in habeas. A petition
for writ of habeas corpus seeks to challenge the fact or
length of confinement. Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411
U.S. 475, 491 (1973). Petitioner, however, does not attack
the duration of his incarceration nor does he seek release
Petitioner challenges Respondent's decision to revoke his
access to the TRULINC e-mail system, i.e., a
condition of his confinement. Petitioner contends that the
revocation was arbitrary and a denial of due process. (ECF
No. 1, at 6). He alleges that he has done nothing during his
incarceration to warrant a change in access privileges.
Ostensibly, because Petitioner had access to the TRULINC
e-mail system for a number of years, he rejects the
explanation that officials revoked his privileges because his
underlying conviction involved electronically messaging at
least one minor for sexual encounters.
because a finding in Petitioner's favor as to his
condition of confinement “would not alter his sentence
or undo his conviction, ” he cannot proceed by habeas
petition. Leamer, 288 F.3d at 542; see, e.g.,
Levi v. Ebbert, 353 Fed.Appx. 681, 682 (3d Cir. 2009)
(explaining that courts should not engage in habeas corpus
review of custody classification claims because they do not
challenge the validity of a conviction or the length of
turn, because Petitioner's condition of confinement claim
is not cognizable in a habeas petition, he can only proceed
by way of a civil rights or declaratory judgment action.
Leamer, 288 F.3d at 542-43. Accordingly, the Court
will deny Petitioner's § 2241 Petition without
prejudice to any right Petitioner may have to bring a
declaratory judgment or other civil action in an appropriate
Court will not, however, sua sponte recharacterize
the Petition as a civil complaint, as there are meaningful
differences between the filing of a habeas petition and a
civil complaint. The filing fee for a habeas petition is
$5.00, and inmates who receive in forma pauperis
status do not have to pay the filing fee. Dixon v.
Zickefoose, No. 12-2320, 2012 WL 4845661, at *2 n.1
(D.N.J. Oct. 10, 2012) (citing Santana v. United
States,98 F.3d 752 (3d Cir. 1996)). In contrast, the
filing fee for a civil complaint is $400.00, but inmates who
proceed in forma pauperis are required ...