Al-Amin v. Davis et al
ORDER Transferring Case. ORDERED that the clerk of the Court transfer this action to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division, by Judge Lewis T. Babcock on 5/15/12. (lygsl, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLORADO
Civil Action No. 12-cv-01197-BNB
JAMIL ABDULLAH AL-AMIN,
BLAKE DAVIS, Warden, ADX Florence,
SAMUEL S. OLENS, Attorney General of the State of Georgia, and
BRIAN OWENS, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Corrections,
ORDER TRANSFERRING CASE
This matter is before the Court on the Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (ECF
No. 1) filed by Petitioner. Petitioner, who is represented by counsel, presently is
incarcerated at the United States Penitentiary, Administrative Maximum, in Florence,
Colorado. Petitioner “is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole, following
his conviction for murder and other crimes by a jury impaneled by the Fulton County
Superior Court of the State of Georgia.” (ECF No. 1 at 1.) Petitioner is serving his
Georgia sentence in a federal prison in Colorado pursuant to a contractual agreement
between the Georgia Department of Corrections and the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
(See ECF No. 1 at 4.) Petitioner claims in this action that his rights under the United
States Constitution have been violated and he seeks a new trial as relief. For the
reasons stated below, this action will be transferred to the United States District Court
for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division.
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241(a), a writ of habeas corpus may be granted by “the
district courts and any circuit judge within their respective jurisdictions.” The United
States Supreme Court has interpreted this provision as requiring jurisdiction over the
applicant’s custodian “even if the prisoner himself is confined outside the court’s
territorial jurisdiction.” See Braden v. 30th Judicial Circuit Court of Ky., 410 U.S. 484,
495 (1973). The Supreme Court reached this conclusion because “[t]he writ of habeas
corpus does not act upon the prisoner who seeks relief, but upon the person who holds
him in what is alleged to be unlawful custody.” Id. at 494-95.
The proper respondent in a habeas corpus action is “the person who has custody
over [the petitioner].” 28 U.S.C. § 2242; see also 28 U.S.C. § 2243 (“The writ, or order
to show cause shall be directed to the person having custody of the person detained.”).
In most cases, there is “only one proper respondent to a given prisoner’s habeas
petition,” and the proper respondent generally is “the warden of facility where the
prisoner is being held.” Rumsfeld v. Padilla, 542 U.S. 426, 434-35 (2004). However,
“the immediate physical custodian rule, by its terms, does not apply when a habeas
petitioner challenges something other than his present physical confinement.” Id. at
438. Instead, a habeas applicant “who challenges a form of ‘custody’ other than
present physical confinement may name as respondent the entity or person who
exercises legal control with respect to the challenged ‘custody.’” Id. For example, the
prisoner in Braden was serving a sentence in an Alabama prison pursuant to an
Alabama conviction but he was challenging a detainer lodged against him in Kentucky
state court. See Braden, 410 U.S. at 486-87. The Supreme Court held in Braden that
the Kentucky court, rather than the Alabama warden, was the proper respondent
because the Alabama warden was not “the person who [held] him in what [was] alleged
to be unlawful custody.” Id. at 494-95. The Supreme Court’s conclusion was supported
in part by traditional venue considerations because “[i]t is in Kentucky, where all of the
material events took place, that the records and witnesses pertinent to petitioner’s claim
are likely to be found.” Id. at 493-94.
As noted above, Petitioner is serving a Georgia sentence in a federal prison in
Colorado pursuant to a contractual agreement between the Georgia Department of
Corrections and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. (See ECF No. 1 at 4.) He names as
respondents the warden of the federal prison in which he is incarcerated, the Attorney
General of the State of Georgia, and the Commissioner of the Georgia Department of
Corrections. According to Petitioner, “the Georgia Department of Corrections retains
control over [Petitioner’s] custody.” (ECF No. 1 at 5.)
Petitioner asserts that jurisdiction and venue are proper in the District of
Colorado pursuant to § 2241(d). In relevant part, that statute provides as follows:
Where an application for a writ of habeas corpus is
made by a person in custody under the judgement 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.
28 U.S.C. § 2241(d). In Braden, the Supreme Court interpreted this language to mean
a prisoner contesting a conviction and sentence of a state
court of a State which contains two or more federal judicial
districts, who is confined in a district within the State other
than that in which the sentencing court is located, has the
option of seeking habeas corpus either in the district where
he is confined or the district where the sentencing court is
Braden, 410 U.S. at 497 (emphasis added).
There is no question that the State of Georgia has more than two federal judicial
districts. See 28 U.S.C. § 90. However, as the Supreme Court explained in Braden,
the filing option authorized by § 2241(d) only arises when a prisoner, who is
incarcerated in the same state that imposed the conviction being challenged, is
incarcerated in a judicial district that does not include the sentencing court. These
circumstances are not present for Petitioner because he is not incarcerated in Georgia.
Therefore, the instant action is not properly filed in the District of Colorado based on the
language of § 2241(d).
In cases decided prior to Padilla, lower courts relying on Braden “have held that
where a petitioner is housed in a state other than the state where he was convicted and
sentenced, the ‘true custodian’ is the official in the state whose indictment or conviction
is being challenged.” Holder v. Curley, 749 F. Supp.2d 644, 645-46 (E.D. Mich. 2010).
Furthermore, “[d]espite the broad language in Padilla, district courts have continued to
hold that a case properly is transferred to the jurisdiction of conviction when the
petitioner is housed in another state only for the convenience of and pursuant to a
contractual relationship with the state wherein the conviction was rendered.” Id. at 646.
As noted above, Petitioner is incarcerated in a federal prison in Colorado
pursuant to a contractual agreement between the Georgia Department of Corrections
and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Furthermore, Petitioner specifically asserts that “the
Georgia Department of Corrections retains control over [Petitioner’s] custody.” (ECF
No. 1 at 5.) As a result, it appears that the warden of the federal prison in Colorado in
which Petitioner is confined does not “exercise legal control with respect to the
challenged ‘custody.’” Padilla, 542 U.S. at 438. Under these circumstances, the Court
finds that the Georgia Department of Corrections is Petitioner’s “true custodian.” See
Holder, 749 F. Supp.2d at 647.
For all of these reasons, the Court finds that it is appropriate and in the interest of
justice to transfer this action to a federal district court in Georgia. Because Petitioner is
challenging a conviction entered in the Fulton County Superior Court, the instant action
will be transferred to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia,
Atlanta Division. See 28 U.S.C. § 90(a)(2). Accordingly, it is
ORDERED that the clerk of the Court transfer this action to the United States
District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division.
DATED at Denver, Colorado, this
BY THE COURT:
s/’Lewis T. Babcock
LEWIS T. BABCOCK, Senior Judge
United States District Court
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