Johnathon Trevino Roberts v. Steve Langford

Filing 6


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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 JOHNATHON TREVINO ROBERTS, 12 13 Petitioner, v. 14 15 16 STEVE LANGFORD, Warden, Case No. CV 17-03820 AB (AFM) ORDER SUMMARILY DISMISSING HABEAS PETITION FOR LACK OF SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION Respondent. 17 18 INTRODUCTION 19 On May 22, 2017, petitioner filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus by a 20 Person in Federal Custody (28 U.S.C. § 2241). Petitioner is serving a sentence of 21 201 months in federal prison pursuant to his convictions in the United States 22 District Court for the District of Nevada for kidnapping and other crimes. In his 23 sole ground for federal habeas relief, petitioner claims that he is entitled to a 24 reduction of his sentence under Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015). 25 Petitioner currently has a pending action in the sentencing court under 28 26 U.S.C. § 2255 for his Johnson claim. However, the sentencing court stayed the 27 action pending a decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in United States v. 28 Begay, 14-10080, or pending further order from the sentencing court. Petitioner 1 filed this Petition because, according to him, the sentencing court’s stay was 2 improper and is unnecessarily delaying the resolution of his claim. 3 4 As discussed below, this action is dismissed without prejudice for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. 5 PROCEDURAL HISTORY 6 7 The Court takes judicial notice of the docket from petitioner’s underlying 8 criminal case in United States v. Gonzalez et al., 3:05-cr-00098-HDM-RAM-2. See 9 Harris v. County of Orange, 682 F.3d 1126, 1132 (9th Cir. 2012) (courts may take 10 judicial notice of undisputed matters of public record, including documents on file 11 in federal or state courts). 12 In July 2007, petitioner was convicted in the United States District Court for 13 the District of Nevada of conspiracy to commit kidnapping, kidnapping, and 14 carrying a firearm during a crime of violence. He was sentenced to federal prison 15 for 201 months. (Petition, Exhibit 2; Gonzalez, ECF No. 334.) In March 2009, the 16 Ninth Circuit affirmed the judgment. See United States v. Roberts, 319 F. App’x 17 575 (9th Cir. 2009). 18 In August 2010, petitioner filed a motion in the sentencing court under 19 § 2255 on the ground of ineffective assistance of counsel and other claims. 20 (Petition at 2; Gonzalez, ECF No. 377.) The sentencing court denied the motion in 21 July 2012. (Petition at 2; Gonzalez, ECF No. 471.) 22 In June 2015, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Johnson, 135 S. Ct. 23 2551 (imposition of an increased sentence based on a prior violent felony 24 conviction, under the residual clause of the Armed Career Criminal Act, violates 25 due process). In May 2016, petitioner sought leave to file a successive § 2255 26 motion in the sentencing court challenging the legality of his sentence in light of 27 Johnson. (Petition at 2; Gonzalez, ECF No. 529.) In June 2016, the Ninth Circuit 28 granted him leave to file a successive § 2255 motion in the sentencing court. 2 1 (Petition at 2; Gonzalez, ECF No. 531.) In its order, however, the Ninth Circuit 2 stated that the sentencing court “may wish to stay proceedings pending this court’s 3 decision in 14-10080, United States v. Begay.” (Gonzalez, ECF No. 531.) 4 On the same day, the sentencing court stayed petitioner’s § 2255 action 5 pending the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Begay. (Petition at 3; Gonzalez, ECF No. 6 532.) In August 2016, petitioner’s counsel filed a motion to lift the stay because 7 petitioner “cannot afford to wait” until Begay is decided: Assuming petitioner was 8 entitled to relief under Johnson, he had already served any sentence that was legally 9 authorized. (Petition at 3; Gonzalez, ECF No. 548.) 10 In November 2016, the sentencing court continued the stay of proceedings 11 until Begay is decided, noting that Begay will likely be dispositive. (Petition at 4; 12 Gonzalez, ECF No. 556.) 13 sentencing court ordered the parties in the meantime to file briefs on the merits of 14 petitioner’s claims. (Id.) In January 2017, the government filed a response. (Id., 15 ECF No. 563.) 16 supplement in March 2017. (Id., ECF Nos. 571 and 572.) In order to avoid any undue delay, however, the Petitioner’s counsel filed a Reply in February 2017 and a 17 In the interim, petitioner filed a pro se appeal of the continued stay in the 18 Ninth Circuit. (Petition at 4; Gonzalez, ECF No. 558.) The Ninth Circuit dismissed 19 the appeal for lack of jurisdiction because the sentencing court’s order continuing 20 the stay was not an appealable order. (Petition at 4; Gonzalez, ECF No. 564.) 21 Petitioner filed this pro se Petition on May 22, 2017. The crux of the Petition 22 is that petitioner is entitled to relief under Johnson and that the sentencing court’s 23 order continuing the stay of his action is unlawful. 24 25 DISCUSSION 26 “Generally, motions to contest the legality of a sentence must be filed under 27 § 2255 in the sentencing court, while petitions that challenge the manner, location, 28 or conditions of a sentence’s execution must be brought pursuant to § 2241 in the 3 1 custodial court.” Harrison v. Ollison, 519 F.3d 952, 956 (9th Cir. 2008). “There is 2 an exception, however, set forth in § 2255: A federal prisoner may file a habeas 3 petition under § 2241 to challenge the legality of a sentence when the prisoner’s 4 remedy under § 2255 is ‘inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of his 5 detention.’” Id. (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 2255). “We refer to this section of § 2255 as 6 the ‘savings clause,’ or the ‘escape hatch.’” Id. (citation omitted). 7 A § 2241 petition may be brought under § 2255’s “savings clause” when a 8 petitioner (1) makes a claim of actual innocence, and (2) has not had an 9 “unobstructed procedural shot” at presenting that claim. See Harrison, 519 F.3d at 10 11 959; Stephens v. Herrera, 464 F.3d 895, 898 (9th Cir. 2006). The second requirement for application of the savings clause has not been 12 satisfied here. In light of the fact that the Ninth Circuit has granted him 13 authorization to file a successive § 2255 motion in the sentencing court, petitioner 14 cannot argue that he will never get an opportunity to present his Johnson claim. Cf. 15 Stephens, 464 F.3d at 898 (petitioner did not have an unobstructed procedural shot 16 where claim based on recent legal authority did not satisfy criteria for a successive 17 § 2255 motion, thereby foreclosing his ability to ever raise the claim). Indeed, 18 petitioner currently has a pending Johnson claim in the sentencing court. The fact 19 that petitioner is dissatisfied with the sentencing court’s order continuing the stay of 20 his action does not give him grounds to bring an action in this Court. District 21 courts lack jurisdiction to review the rulings and decisions of other district courts. 22 See Celotex Corp. v. Edwards, 514 U.S. 300, 313 (1995) (“We have made clear that 23 [i]t is for the court of first instance to determine the question of the validity of the 24 law, and until its decision is reversed for error by orderly review, either by itself or 25 by a higher courts, it orders based on its decisions are to be respected.”) (internal 26 quotation marks omitted) (alteration in original); Prentice v. U.S. Dist. Court, 307 27 F. App’x 460 (D.C. Cir. 2008) (“[T]he U.S. District Court for the District of 28 Columbia properly determined it lacked jurisdiction to review action taken by the 4 1 U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan (Southern Division).”). 2 The only remaining question is whether this action should be transferred to 3 any other court in which the action could have been brought. See 28 U.S.C. § 1631. 4 “Because the statute’s language is mandatory, federal courts should consider 5 transfer without motion by the parties.” Cruz-Aguilera v. I.N.S., 245 F.3d 1070, 6 1074 (9th Cir. 2001). “Transfer is appropriate under § 1631 if three conditions are 7 met: (1) the transferring court lacks jurisdiction; (2) the transferee court could have 8 exercised jurisdiction at the time the action was filed; and (3) the transfer is in the 9 interest of justice.” Id. Here, the interest of justice would not be served by 10 transferring this action to any other court because petitioner already has a pending 11 § 2255 motion in the sentencing court based on Johnson. See Puri v. Gonzales, 464 12 F.3d 1038, 1043 (9th Cir. 2006) (district court did not err in failing to transfer 13 action under § 1631 to the Ninth Circuit where petitioner already had a pending 14 petition for review); Hill v. U.S. Air Force, 795 F.2d 1067, 1070 (D.C. Cir. 1986) 15 (district court did not err in failing to transfer action under § 1631 to district court 16 where petitioner already had a pending action arising from the same incidents). 17 ORDER 18 19 20 IT THEREFORE IS ORDERED that this action is summarily dismissed without prejudice for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. 21 22 DATED: September 1, 2017 23 24 25 26 ANDRÉ BIROTTE JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 27 28 5

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