United States District Court, D. New Jersey
Michael A. Shipp United States District Judge
Robert Jackson III Bey, a pretrial detainee currently
confined at Somerset County Jail, has filed a Petition for
Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241.
(Pet., ECF No. 1.) At this time, the Court is required to
screen the Petition pursuant to Rule 4 of the Rules Governing
Section 2254 Cases, applicable to proceedings under §
2241 through Rule 1(b), to determine whether it "plainly
appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the
petitioner is not entitled to relief." For the reasons
set forth below, the Court will dismiss the petition without
prejudice and a certificate of appealability will be denied.
filed the instant Petition on August 22, 2019, seeking to
challenge the legality of an ongoing criminal proceeding in
the New Jersey State Courts before Judge Qasim. (See
Pet.) Petitioner seeks immediate release from Somerset County
Jail. (Id. at 9.)
Petition raises four grounds for relief. First, Petitioner
asserts that he is a Moorish American National and, as such,
his detention is in violation of international law, the
Treaties of Peace and Friendships of 1787 and 1836, and the
First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth
Amendments. (Id., at 7.) Second, Petitioner claims
that he is "[b]eing denied [his] Unalienable,
Substantive Rights and Birthright recognized Laws of the
Nations of the Earth." (Id., at 8.) Third,
Petitioner asserts that he is "[b]eing denied Due
Process of Law [be]cause of Threat, Duress and Coercion and
Duress of imprisonment." (Id.) Finally,
Petitioner contends that Judge Qasim is "knowingly and
willingly proceeding without jurisdiction" in the
pending state court criminal proceeding. (Id. at 9.)
The threadbare factual allegations contained in the Petition
suggest that Petitioner takes issue with the state
court's refusal to consider paperwork submitted by
Petitioner regarding his status as a Moorish American
National. (See Id. at 8.) The Petition indicates
that Petitioner has not raised these claims in any of the New
Jersey appellate courts. (See Id. at 3-7.)
U.S.C. § 2241(c) provides that habeas relief may be
extended to a prisoner where he "is in custody in
violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the
United States." Pursuant to Rule 4 of the Rules
Governing Section 2254 Cases, applicable to § 2241
petitions through Rule 1(b), this Court is required to review
a petitioner's habeas petition and determine whether it
"plainly appears from the petition and any attached
exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief."
Pursuant to this rule, a district court is "authorized
to dismiss summarily any habeas petition that appears legally
insufficient on its face." McFarland v. Scott,
512 U.S. 849, 856 (1994).
pretrial detainee, Petitioner's challenge to the validity
of his confinement at Somerset County Jail and his request
for release is properly brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
2241. See Moore v. DeYomg, Sl5 F.2d437, 441-42
(3dCir. 1975); see also Duran v. Thomas, 393
Fed.Appx. 3, 4 (3d Cir. 2010) ("[S]ection 2241
authorizes a federal court to issue a writ of habeas coipus
to any pretrial detainee who 'is in custody in violation
of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United
States.'" (citation omitted)). "Nevertheless,
that jurisdiction must be exercised sparingly in order to
prevent in the ordinary circumstance "pre-trial habeas
interference by federal courts in the normal functioning of
state criminal processes.'" Duran, 393
Fed.Appx. at 4 (quoting Moore, 515 F.2d at 445-46).
Section 2241 therefore may not be used "to litigate
constitutional defenses prematurely in federal court."
Id. (quoting Moore, 515 F.2d at 445). The
Third Circuit thus held in Moore that although
federal district courts have jurisdiction to hear the habeas
challenges of state pre-trial detainees, "jurisdiction
without exhaustion should not be exercised at the pre-trial
stage unless extraordinary circumstances are present."
515 F.2d at 443 (citations omitted). Extraordinary
circumstances may be present where there is evidence that
reveals "delay, harassment, bad faith, or other
intentional activity." Id. at 447 n. 12.
it is clear from the Petition that none of Petitioner's
claims for relief have been exhausted in state court.
Petitioner indicates in the Petition that he has not filed
any appeal regarding his challenge to the state court's
jurisdiction over the pending criminal action against him.
(See Pet. 3-4.) Nor has Petitioner demonstrated that
there are any extraordinary circumstances to excuse his
failure to exhaust these claims. Petitioner appears to allege
that he has attempted to raise certain claims regarding his
status as a Moorish American National to the state trial
court and that his arguments were disregarded. See Id.
at 8-9. This, however, does not rise to the type of
extraordinary circumstances required for this Court to
exercise jurisdiction over the Petition absent exhaustion in
state court. See Duran, 393 Fed.Appx. at 4-5.
Accordingly, the Petition will be dismissed without
CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY
is required to obtain a certificate of appealability to the
extent he wishes to challenge this Court's dismissal of
his Petition. See 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(1)(A)
(explaining that unless a certificate of appealability is
issued, an appeal may not be taken from "the final order
in a habeas corpus proceeding in which the detention
complained of arises out of process issued by a State
court" (emphasis added)); see also Thomas v.
Warden, No. 16-685, 2016 WL 756558, at *3 n.2 (D.N.J.
Feb. 26, 2016) (explaining that a certificate of
appealability is required for a petition seeking pretrial
habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3)).
habeas proceeding, a certificate of appealability may only be
issued where "the applicant has made a substantial
showing of the denial of a constitutional right." 28
U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2). In Slack v. McDaniel, 529
U.S. 473, 484 (2000), the United States Supreme Court held
that "[w]hen the district court denies a habeas petition
on procedural grounds without reaching the prisoner's
underlying constitutional claim, a [certificate of
appealability] should issue when the prisoner shows, at
least, that jurists of reason would find it debatable whether
the petition states a valid claim of the denial of a
constitutional right and that jurists of reason would find it
debatable whether the district court was correct in its
procedural ruling." Here, the Court denies a certificate
of appealability because jurists of reason would not find it
debatable that the Petition should be dismissed.
foregoing reasons, the Petition is dismissed without
prejudice and a certificate of appealability will not ...