Handerhan v. Warden
RULING AND ORDER re 1 Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed by Blaine R. Handerhan. The Petition [ECF No. 1] is construed as a second section 2255 motion and is hereby TRANSFERRED to the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, in the interests of justice pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1631, for whatever action that court deems appropriate Signed by Judge Alvin W. Thompson on 5/9/2017.(Payton, R.)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT
BLAINE R. HANDERHAN,
WARDEN F.C.I. DANBURY,
Case No. 3:17cv194(AWT)
RULING AND ORDER
The petitioner, Blaine Handerhan, is confined at Danbury
Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Connecticut.
has filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2241 challenging his 2012 federal conviction and
In October 2011, in the United States District Court for
the Middle District of Pennsylvania, the petitioner pleaded
guilty to one count of possession of child pornography in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252A (a)(5).
Corpus, ECF No. 1 at 1-2, 22.
See Pet. Writ Habeas
In August 2012, a judge sentenced
the petitioner to 96 months of imprisonment.
See United States
v. Handerhan, 739 F.3d 114, 119 (3d Cir. 2014).
The petitioner appealed his conviction and sentence.
September 7, 2014, the United States Court of Appeals for the
Third Circuit affirmed the judgment.
See id. at 125.
On February 12, 2014, in the United States District Court
for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, the petitioner filed a
motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 claiming ineffective assistance of
See Pet. Writ Habeas Corpus, ECF No. 1 at 4.
September 23, 2014, a judge denied the petitioner’s motion to
vacate his sentence on the merits.
On February 5, 2015, the
Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit denied a certificate of
See U.S. v. Handerhan, C.A. No. 14-4120 (3d Cir.
Feb. 5, 2015).
In June 2015, the petitioner filed a motion to vacate the
order denying the section 2255 motion pursuant to Rule 60(b),
Fed. R. Civ. P. In August 2015, the petitioner filed a motion to
alter or amend the order denying the motion to vacate the ruling
denying the section 2255 motion pursuant to Rule 59(e), Fed. R.
A judge in the United States District Court for the
Middle District of Pennsylvania subsequently denied both
See United States v. Handerhan, Criminal No. 1:CR-10-
0298, 2015 WL 11387769 (M.D. Pa. Sept. 22, 2015) (denying Rule
60, Fed. R. Civ. P. motion); United States v. Handerhan,
Criminal No. 1:CR-10-0298, 2015 WL 6501200 (M.D. Pa. Oct. 27,
2015) (denying Rule 59(e), Fed. R. Civ. P. motion).
17, 2016, the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit denied a
certificate of appealability as to the rulings on the Rule 60(b)
and Rule 59(a) motions.
See U.S. v. Handerhan, C.A. No. 15-3714
(3d Cir. Mar. 17, 2016).
“The Judiciary Act of 1789 . . . empowered federal courts
in the district in which a prisoner was confined to issue a writ
of habeas corpus if the prisoner was in custody, under or by
colour of the authority of the United States.”
United States, 124 F.3d 361, 373 (2d Cir. 1997)(internal
quotation marks and citation omitted).
codified at 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3).
Today, this authority is
“A motion pursuant to §
2241 generally challenges the execution of a federal prisoner’s
sentence, including such matters as the administration of
parole, computation of a prisoner’s sentence by prison
officials, prison disciplinary actions, prison transfers, type
of detention and prison conditions.”
Jiminian v. Nash, 245 F.3d
144, 146 (2d Cir. 2001)(citing Chambers v. United States, 106
F.3d 472, 474-75 (2d Cir. 1997) (describing situations where a
federal prisoner would properly file a section 2241 petition).
A motion filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, on the other
hand, is considered “the proper vehicle for a federal prisoner’s
challenge to [the imposition of] his conviction and sentence.”
Id. at 146-47.
Thus, as a general rule, federal prisoners
challenging the imposition of their sentences must do so by a
motion filed pursuant to § 2255 rather than a petition filed
pursuant to § 2241.
A section 2255 motion must be filed in the
district court that sentenced the petitioner.
See 28 U.S.C. §
A petition for writ of habeas corpus filed pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 2241, however, should name the petitioner’s
custodian as the respondent and should be filed in the district
court in the state in which the petitioner is confined.
Rumsfeld v. Padilla, 542 U.S. 426, 446-47 (2004) (“Whenever a
§ 2241 habeas petitioner seeks to challenge his present physical
custody within the United States, he should name his warden as
respondent and file the petition in the district of
The petitioner challenges his federal conviction on the
ground that he lacked the mens rea to commit the crime of
possession of child pornography because he suffered from various
mental health conditions at the time he downloaded the images
onto his computer.
In addition, he claims that there was
insufficient evidence to show that he knowingly downloaded the
pornographic images to his computer.
He contends that his
guilty plea was not knowing or voluntary because he was
incompetent at the time.
He seeks an “evidentiary hearing to
determine the real truth in this matter.”
Corpus, ECF No. 1 at 35.
Pet. Writ Habeas
He asks the court to permit him to “to
retain, [an] expert forensic psychiatrist and [a] technology
specialist to prepare forensic expert testimony[y] necessary for
the Honorable Court to allow [him] to withdraw his plea of
guilty and vacate his sentence.”
Because the present
petition challenges the legality of the petitioner’s conviction
and sentence, it should have been filed as a motion to vacate,
set aside or correct sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255.
The petitioner suggests that he has met the requirements
for filing a section 2241 petition under the “savings clause”
contained in 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e).
F.3d 98, 105 (2d Cir. 2003).
United States v. Cephas, 328
This clause permits a federal
prisoner to challenge his or her conviction by filing a section
2241 petition when a motion under section 2255 “provides an
inadequate or ineffective remedy to test the legality of a
federal prisoner’s detention.”
Jiminian, 245 F.3d at 147
However, the term “inadequate and
ineffective” in the savings clause of section 2255 refers to
those relatively few cases “in which a petitioner cannot, for
whatever reason, utilize section 2255, and in which the failure
to allow for collateral review would raise serious
Triestman, 124 F.3d at 377-78.
Thus, the exception is available only in cases involving
prisoners “who can prove . . . actual innocence on the existing
record-- and who could not have effectively raised [their]
claim[s] of innocence at an earlier time.”
Id. at 378.
Triestman, the exception permitting the filing of a section 2241
petition to challenge a conviction and sentence applied because
the petitioner there had no prior opportunity to challenge his
conviction for conduct that the United States Supreme Court
later deemed to be non-criminal.
See id. at 380.
Claims of actual innocence must be premised on a clear and
convincing showing of “factual innocence not mere legal
Bousley v. United States, 523 U.S. 614, 623
“[I]n the context of a noncapital case, the concept of
actual innocence is easy to grasp, because it normally means
simply that the defendant did not commit the crime” of which he
or she has been convicted.
Poindexter v. Nash, 333 F.3d 372,
389-81 (2d Cir. 2003) (internal quotation marks and citations
The petitioner has not established that a section 2255
motion is an inadequate and ineffective remedy to test the
legality of his sentence.
The fact that a petitioner might not
be able to meet the procedural requirements set forth in 28
U.S.C. § 2255(e), (f) or (h) for filing a section 2255 motion,
does not make the remedy under section 2255 inadequate or
See id. at 378 (to qualify for exception
authorizing filing of section 2241 petition “it is insufficient
simply that relief under § 2255 is unavailable because, for
example, a prior motion under § 2255 has been made and a
successive motion under that section is disallowed by the court
of appeals under the gatekeeping provisions of §§ 2244 and
2255”); Jiminian, 245 F.3d at 156-58 (holding that § 2255 is not
inadequate or ineffective . . . simply because a prisoner
“cannot meet the AEDPA’s gate-keeping requirements, provided
that the claim the prisoner seeks to raise was previously
available on direct appeal or in a prior § 2255 motion.”)
the fact that a judge in the Middle District of Pennsylvania has
already dismissed a section 2255 motion filed by the petitioner
on the merits does not make the remedy under section 2255
inadequate or ineffective.
The petitioner claims that he is actually innocent of the
crime for which he pled guilty.
He has, however, failed to
submit evidence that supports such a claim.
Rather he states
that he requires “forensic psychiatric evidence and testimony
regarding [his] state of mind at the time of the commission of
the alleged act,” in order to prove his claim that lacked the
mens rea to commit the crime and is actually innocent.
Writ Habeas Corpus ECF No. 1 at 24.
The court concludes that
the petitioner has not demonstrated “his actual innocence” by
clear and convincing evidence “on the existing record.”
Triestman, 124 F.3d 378.
Furthermore, the petitioner has not sufficiently alleged
that he could not have raised his claim of actual innocence at
an earlier time.
The petitioner contends that he did not raise
the claims in this petition earlier because the status of his
mental health did not permit him “to independently review and
prepare legal documentation.”
Corpus [ECF No. 1] at 34.
See Petition for Writ of Habeas
This contention, however, is without
In his first section 2255 motion, the petitioner raised
several ineffective assistance of counsel claims that stemmed
from his contention that his mental illness either prevented him
from being able to form the necessary criminal intent or made
him incompetent to stand trial or plead guilty to the offense of
possession of child pornography.
In addition, he raised his
claim of mental incompetency in the motion to vacate and set
aside the ruling denying the section 2255 motion. The court
concludes that the petitioner has not alleged that the claims
that (1) he did not possess the mens rea necessary to have
committed the crime of possession of child pornography, (2)
there was insufficient evidence to show that he knowingly
downloaded the pornographic images to his computer, and (3) he
did not knowingly or voluntarily plead guilty, were unavailable
to him at an earlier time and could not have been raised on
direct appeal or in a previous section 2255 motion.
Jiminian, 245 F.3d at 147 (holding that if a claim sought to be
raised by petitioner was previously available to him, the
“failure to permit review of that claim would not raise serious
Thus, the claims raised by the
petitioner do not fall within the savings clause exception to 28
U.S.C. § 2255.
The petitioner has not shown that the remedy under 28
U.S.C. § 2255 is inadequate or ineffective to challenge his
conviction and sentence.
Thus, he has not met the requirements
which would permit him to invoke this court’s jurisdiction to
hear his claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241.
A district court may construe a petition for writ of habeas
corpus filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 as a second or
successive motion to vacate, set aside or correct sentence
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, without providing the petitioner
with notice or an opportunity to withdraw the petition, as long
as the petitioner “has had a prior § 2255 motion dismissed on
Jiminian, 245 F.3d at 148.
Here, the petitioner
has had one prior section 2255 motion decided on the merits by
the United States District Court for the Middle District of
See United States v. Handerhan, Criminal No.
1:CR-10-0298, 2014 WL 4792007 (M.D. Pa. Sept. 23, 2014).
Therefore, the court construes the instant petition as a second
motion filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255.
Ordinarily, a district court would transfer a second or
successive section 2255 motion to the Court of Appeals to enable
that court to determine whether certification to file a second
petition should be granted.
See id.; Liriano v. United States,
95 F.3d 119, 123 (2d Cir.1996) (“when a second or successive . .
§ 2255 motion is filed in a district court without the
authorization by this Court that is mandated by § 2244(b)(3),
the district court should transfer the . . . motion to this
Court in the interests of justice pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
Both Jiminian and Liriano, however, presupposed that
the second or successive Section 2255 motion was brought before
a sentencing court within the Second Circuit and that the only
defect in the jurisdiction of that court was the absence of a
certificate from the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
This case is different because the section 2255 motion was
required to have been filed in a sentencing court outside the
Second Circuit, i.e. the United States District Court for the
Middle District of Pennsylvania, and because the sentencing
court could not properly have entertained it without a
certificate from the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
The court concludes that the appropriate course of action,
therefore, is to transfer this second section 2255 motion to the
United States District Court for the Middle District of
Pennsylvania pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1631, for whatever action
that court deems appropriate.
See Dixon v. Killian, No. 09 Civ.
6823(LAK), 2009 WL 2709371, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 25, 2009)
(construing section 2241 petition as a second or successive
section 2255 motion and transferring the motion to the United
States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1631).
As stated above, the court lacks subject matter
jurisdiction over the Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus [ECF
The Petition [ECF No. 1] is construed as a second
section 2255 motion and is hereby TRANSFERRED to the United
States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania,
in the interests of justice pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1631, for
whatever action that court deems appropriate
It is so ordered.
Dated this 9th day of May, 2017, at Hartford, Connecticut.
Alvin W. Thompson
United States District Judge
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