Phelps v. United States Of America

Filing 4

ORDER OF DISMISSAL; GRANTING IN FORMA PAUPERIS. Signed by Judge Lucy H. Koh on 8/30/11. (Attachments: # 1 certificate of mailing)(mpb, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 8/30/2011)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 8 FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 9 10 11 12 ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) COY PHELPS, Petitioner, vs. 13 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, 14 Respondent. 15 No. C 11-3211 LHK (PR) ORDER OF DISMISSAL; GRANTING IN FORMA PAUPERIS 16 Petitioner, a federal insanity acquitee currently housed at Federal Medical Center in 17 Massachusetts, has filed this pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 18 § 2241 challenging the constitutionality of his custody. Petitioner’s motion to proceed in forma 19 pauperis is GRANTED. 20 BACKGROUND 21 Petitioner has had a lengthy relationship with the judicial system. In 1986, Petitioner was 22 found not guilty by reason of insanity for “possessing, manufacturing, and placing pipe bombs at 23 five San Francisco locations.” United States v. Phelps, 955 F.2d 1258, 1260 (9th Cir. 1992) 24 (Phelps I). (Pet. at 3.) Thereafter, Petitioner was committed, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 42431, to 25 the United States Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Missouri. Id.; United States v. Phelps, 26 27 28 1 Section 4243 governs the procedures for hospitalization and release of a person found not guilty by reason of insanity. Order of Dismissal; Granting In Forma Pauperis P:\PRO-SE\SJ.LHK\HC.11\Phelps211dis.ngi.wpd 1 283 F.3d 1172, 1179 (9th Cir. 2002) (Phelps II). In 1999, Petitioner was ordered conditionally 2 released after a Court hearing. (Pet. at 6.) Petitioner filed several appeals in response to his 3 conditional release. Id. at 1180. In March 2001, Petitioner was arrested and re-committed. (Id. 4 at 10.) 5 On appeal from the 1999 and subsequent orders conditionally releasing Petitioner, in 6 Phelps II, the Ninth Circuit determined that, under 18 U.S.C. § 4243, the district court was 7 permitted to impose conditions upon release. Id. at 1182-83. However, the Ninth Circuit 8 analyzed the procedure actually used by the district court in conditionally releasing Petitioner, 9 and concluded that it did not adhere to the strict requirements of the statute. Id. at 1183-84. 10 Thus, the Ninth Circuit reversed the order granting conditional release. Id. The Ninth Circuit 11 directed the district court to order that Petitioner be re-hospitalized in conformity with its 12 opinion, although noted that future release proceedings were not barred. Id. at 1187. 13 On April 20, 2010, Petitioner filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus, pursuant to 28 14 U.S.C. § 2241, challenging the order revoking his original commitment, his conditional release 15 in 2001, and his re-commitment in 2001. Phelps v. United States, No. 10-1689 MHP (N.D. Cal. 16 Sept. 27, 2010). The Court noted that Petitioner had filed more than twenty federal cases 17 challenging his custody and not guilty by reason of insanity determination. Id. at 2. Ultimately, 18 the Court dismissed Petitioner’s petition in part as a second or successive petition, and because 19 his request for release under Section 4243 was inappropriate as a habeas action. Id. at 3-6. 20 21 22 23 On June 28, 2011, Petitioner filed the underlying action, and this case was assigned to the undersigned judge. DISCUSSION Petitioner requests unconditional release from confinement challenging the conditions 24 and circumstances of his release concerning his commitment in 1999, his re-commitment in 25 2001, and the constitutionality of 18 U.S.C. § 4243. Specifically, he claims that: (1) Section 26 4243 is unconstitutional as applied because he did not commit a crime; (2) there is no statutory 27 authority to confine him in a federal prison; (3) he was denied effective assistance of counsel at 28 his re-commitment hearing; and (4) several of the prior Court’s decisions violated statutory Order of Dismissal; Granting In Forma Pauperis P:\PRO-SE\SJ.LHK\HC.11\Phelps211dis.ngi.wpd 2 1 authority. 2 Here, to the extent Petitioner challenges his original commitment, he cannot do so. See 3 Archuleta v. Hedrick, 365 F.3d 644, 648 (8th Cir. 2004) (“Archuleta may not collaterally attack 4 his decision to assert a successful insanity defense.”) (citing Curry v. Overholser, 287 F.2d 137, 5 179-40 (D.C. Cir. 1960). Moreover, because Petitioner is no longer in custody by reason of his 6 original commitment, but by reason of commitment orders entered thereafter, he is not entitled to 7 relief based on alleged errors in his original commitment. 8 9 Petitioner claims that there is no statutory authority for housing him in a federal prison when he was not convicted of a crime. Petitioner is currently held at the Federal Medical Center 10 in Devens, Massachusetts. This facility “is an administrative facility housing male offenders 11 requiring specialized or long-term medical or mental health care.” Federal Bureau of Prisons, 12 (last visited Aug. 23, 2011). There is no 13 merit to Petitioner’s conclusory allegation that such a federal facility is an inappropriate 14 placement for persons found not guilty by reason of insanity. See, e.g., Phelps v. United States 15 Bureau of Prisons, 62 F.3d 1020, 1023 (8th Cir. 1995) (affirming denial of “habeas motion” that 16 challenged the suitability of federal facility in which Petitioner was placed pursuant to Sections 17 4243 and 4247); cf. 18 U.S.C. § 4247(a)(2) (“suitable facility means a facility that is suitable to 18 provide care or treatment given the nature of the offense and the characteristics of the 19 defendant”). 20 Finally, much of Petitioner’s petition challenges the Court’s previous decisions which 21 occurred prior to, or were reversed by Phelps II. “Under the law-of-case doctrine, a court will 22 not reexamine an issue previously decided by the same or higher court in the same case.” Lucas 23 Auto. Eng’g, Inc. v. Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc., 275 F.3d 762, 766 (9th Cir. 2001). To the 24 extent that Phelps II did not completely dispose of those claims, the proper vehicle to challenge 25 those decisions is by filing an appeal to the Ninth Circuit rather than through filing a new habeas 26 petition. See id. To the extent Petitioner alleges that he meets the standards for release under 27 Section 4243, a habeas petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 is inapplicable. The statutes expressly 28 provide that the proper procedure is to file a motion under Section 4247(h). See Phelps II, 283 Order of Dismissal; Granting In Forma Pauperis P:\PRO-SE\SJ.LHK\HC.11\Phelps211dis.ngi.wpd 3 1 F.3d at 1183 n.8, 1187. 2 CONCLUSION 3 The instant habeas petition is DISMISSED. The clerk shall terminate any pending 4 motions and close the file. 5 IT IS SO ORDERED. 6 DATED: __8/30/11_____________ LUCY H. KOH United States District Judge 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 Order of Dismissal; Granting In Forma Pauperis P:\PRO-SE\SJ.LHK\HC.11\Phelps211dis.ngi.wpd 4

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