Diggs v. Gordy
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER ADOPTING and ACCEPTING the Magistrate Judge's 6 REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION. Petitioners 7 Objections are OVERRULED. As a result, this action is hereby TRANSFERRED to the United States District Court for the S outhern District of Alabama pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241(d). ORDER transferring case to the Southern District of Alabama; Original electronic record and certified copy of docket entries will be emailed to Clerk of Court 10 business days from this date. Signed by Judge James H Hancock on 8/19/2015. (JLC, )
2015 Aug-19 AM 10:21
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
ERNEST BRAXTON DIGGS, JR.,
CHRISTOPHER GORDEY, Warden of
Limestone Correctional Facility,
Civil Action Number:
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Petitioner Ernest Braxton Diggs, Jr., is an Alabama state prisoner acting pro
se. He is confined at the Limestone Correctional Facility in Harvest, Alabama.
(Doc. 5 ¶ 1). He filed this action seeking a writ of habeas corpus, nominally
pursuant to the general habeas statute, 28 U.S.C. § 2241. (Doc. 1). On July 31,
2014, Diggs filed an amended habeas petition, also purportedly under § 2241.
(Doc. 5). On August 3, 2015, the magistrate judge entered a report and
recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and FED. R. CIV. P. 72(b)(1)
finding that, because Diggs is challenging the validity of convictions for burglary,
rape, sexual abuse, kidnaping, and sodomy entered in the Circuit Court of Mobile
County, Alabama, this action is due to be transferred to the United States District
Court for the Southern District of Alabama pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241(d). (Doc.
6). Diggs has now filed objections to the magistrate judge’s report and
recommendation. (Doc. 7).
Section § 2241(d) provides:
Where an application for a writ of habeas corpus is made by a person
in custody under the judgment and sentence of a State court of a State
which contains two or more Federal judicial districts, the application
may be filed in the district court for the district wherein such person
is in custody or in the district court for the district within which the
State court was held which convicted and sentenced him and each of
such district courts shall have concurrent jurisdiction to entertain the
application. The district court for the district wherein such an
application is filed in the exercise of its discretion and in furtherance
of justice may transfer the application to the other district court for
hearing and determination.
Here, the magistrate judge found that Diggs is “a person in custody under the
judgment and sentence of a State court” for purposes of the above statute. In
particular, he determined that Diggs is being held pursuant to a judgment and
sentence entered by the Circuit Court of Mobile County, Alabama, upon
convictions listed previously. (See Doc. 6; see also Doc. 5, ¶¶ 3, 4, 7). Diggs now
argues in his objections that he is not, in fact, in custody under the judgment and
sentence of a state court because, he says, “the purported judgment orders, upon
which the Respondent Christopher Gordy, Warden’s authority derives, was
pronounced by a court without jurisdiction.” (Doc. 7 ¶ 1). “Because the said
purported judgment orders are void,” Diggs says, “they are complete nullities, and
therefore, do not legally exist.” (Id.) As it relates to this court’s authority to
transfer the action under § 2241(d), these arguments are frivolous. While Diggs’s
habeas petition attacks the judgment embodying his convictions and sentences as
having been entered by a state court “without jurisdiction” or as being otherwise
“void,” he is still plainly “in custody under the judgment and sentence of a state
court” for purposes of § 2241(d). That is, although Diggs contests the legal
validity of the state-court judgment, that judgment still constitutes the State of
Alabama’s legal authority and justification “under” which he is being held in
custody against his will. See Walden v. State of Florida Corp., 2010 WL
3943726, at *2 n. 2 (N.D. Fla. Sept. 22, 2010) (where prison inmate claimed that
state court lacked jurisdiction to convict and sentence him, habeas petition filed in
the district of confinement would be subject to transfer to the district of conviction
pursuant to § 2241(d)), report and recommendation adopted, 2010 WL 3942745
(N.D. Fla. Oct. 6, 2010); cf. Hammonds v. Estes, 2014 WL 948493, at *3 (N.D.
Ala. Mar. 11, 2014) (while habeas petitioner claimed that state court lacked
jurisdiction to convict and sentence him, and despite invoking 28 U.S.C. § 2241 as
the basis for his habeas application, petitioner was “in custody pursuant to the
judgment of a state court” for purposes of 28 U.S.C. § 2254). Indeed, Diggs
effectively acknowledges as much. (See Doc. 6, ¶ 1 (recognizing that the
Respondent Warden’s “authority” to hold Diggs “derives” from “the purported
judgment orders” of the Mobile Circuit court).
Having carefully reviewed and considered de novo all the materials in the
court file, including the magistrate judge’s report and recommendation and
Diggs’s objections thereto, the court is of the opinion that the magistrate judge’s
findings are due to be and are hereby ADOPTED and his recommendation is
ACCEPTED. Diggs’s objections are OVERRULED. As a result, this action is
hereby TRANSFERRED to the United States District Court for the Southern
District of Alabama pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241(d).1 After effecting such
transfer, the Clerk is DIRECTED to close the file in this court.
DONE this the
day of August, 2015.
SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Although Diggs insists that the instant action was filed only pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
2241, because he is an Alabama state prisoner, it appears that his habeas petition is nonetheless
subject to the procedural limitations and requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 2254. See Medberry v.
Crosby, 351 F.3d 1049, 1060–61 (11th Cir. 2003). The court would note, however, that it has
not formally advised Diggs that his application will be treated as one under § 2254 or warned
him of the potential ramifications of any such recharacterization. See generally Castro v. United
States, 540 U.S. 375 (2003); 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b).
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