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Morris v. Ortiz

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

August 6, 2019

DAVID E. ORTIZ, Respondent.



         Petitioner Gregory Lynn Morris, an inmate then incarcerated at FCI Fort Dix, filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, purporting to challenge aspects of his incarceration. For the following reasons, the Court will deny the Petition, and deny Petitioner's motions to compel a decision as moot.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This case arises from the conditions of Petitioner's incarceration while serving his sentence at FCI Fort-Dix and other institutions. It appears that Petitioner was serving a term of supervised release, when, in November of 2015, the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania sentenced Petitioner to a sixty-month term of imprisonment, for conspiracy to possess and distribute heroin. In December of 2015, the same court sentenced Petitioner to, among other things, twenty months in prison to run consecutively, for violating supervised release.

         On at least two occasions, Petitioner sought admission into the Bureau of Prisons' (“BOP”) Residential Drug Abuse Program (“RDAP”). The BOP administers RDAP as an intensive treatment program to reduce the risk of relapse for participants. If a prisoner successfully completes the program, the BOP may, in its discretion, reduce a prisoner's sentence by up to one year. See 18 U.S.C. § 3621(e)(2); Anderson v. Schultz, No. 09-4683, 2010 WL 5017352, at *2 (D.N.J. Nov. 23, 2010).

         It appears that in February of 2016, Petitioner participated in a RDAP diagnostic interview at FCI Berlin, in Berlin, New Hampshire. At the interview, he “minimized his drug abuse at th[e] time, ” stating that “he only took one puff of marijuana and used cocaine only once in the prior 12 months.” (ECF No. 1-4, at 2). According to Petitioner, he was “minimizing” and “down-played” his drug usage because he “was under intense supervision” while serving his term of supervised release. (Id. at 2, 12).

         In part, because of Petitioner's statements, the interviewing doctor found that Petitioner did not qualify for “a substance use disorder diagnosis” and denied him entry into the program. (ECF No. 5-5, at 21). Petitioner implies that he does, in fact, have a substance use disorder and contends that the interviewing doctor failed to consider his two positive urine tests in the preceding twelve months prior to his arrest.

         In October of 2016, the BOP transferred Petitioner to FCI Fort Dix, where he again applied for entry into the RDAP. Petitioner submitted additional documentation regarding his two positive drug screens and other documentation. In December of 2016, a different doctor refused to interview Petitioner for RDAP due, in part, to Petitioner's earlier statements minimizing his drug use at FCI Berlin. Petitioner appealed these decisions through the administrative remedy process and received a denial at each stage.

         Petitioner then filed the instant Petition requesting that the Court declare him eligible for the RDAP. Respondent filed an Answer, and Petitioner filed a Reply.


         “Habeas corpus petitions must meet heightened pleading requirements.” McFarland v. Scott, 512 U.S. 849, 856 (1994). A petition must “specify all the grounds for relief” and set forth “facts supporting each of the grounds thus specified.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254 Rule 2(c) (amended Dec. 1, 2004), applicable to § 2241 petitions through Habeas Rule 1(b). A court addressing a petition for 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 there.” 28 U.S.C. § 2243.

         Thus, “[f]ederal courts . . . [may] dismiss summarily any habeas petition that appears legally insufficient on its face.” McFarland, 512 U.S. at 856. More specifically, a district court may “dismiss a [habeas] petition summarily when it plainly appears from the face of the petition and any exhibits . . . that the petitioner is not entitled to relief.” Lonchar v. Thomas, 517 U.S. 314, 320 (1996).


         Under 28 U.S.C. § 2241, the “writ of habeas corpus shall not extend to a prisoner unless . . . [h]e is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.” “Challenges to the validity of any confinement or to particulars affecting its duration are the province of habeas corpus” but prisoners may only present “requests for relief turning on circumstances of confinement . . . in a § 1983 [or Bivens] action.” Muhammad v. Close, 540 U.S. 749, 750 (2004) (citation omitted). Stated differently, a petitioner may only bring a claim in a § 2241 petition if it “would fall within the ...

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