SCOTT v. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION: The Court will DENY Plaintiff's Motion To Expedite Hearing on His Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus 5 and DISMISS Plaintiff's Complaint 1 . See attached document for details. A separate Order 7 will issue. Signed by Judge Randolph D. Moss on 8/29/2017. (lcrdm2, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Civil Action No. 16-694 (RDM)
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, et al.,
Plaintiff Truman Scott, proceeding pro se, filed this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
against the United States and Jefferson B. Sessions III in his capacity as the U.S. Attorney
General. Dkt. 1. Scott is presently incarcerated in West Virginia, id. at 3, and he alleges that he
was never indicted on the charges leading to his conviction and imprisonment, id. at 5. As relief,
Scott asks “that the [G]overnment in open court be allowed to concede [that] [he] has never been
indicted.” Id. Scott has also filed a “motion to expedite hearing on his petition for [a] writ of
habeas corpus pursuant to  U.S.C. § 2241.” Dkt. 5 at 1. He asserts that he has served more
than twenty-two years of imprisonment “on charges that do not exist.” Id. at 2. According to the
motion, Scott’s “petition was file[d] . . . in the District of Columbia” because he would “not
receive a fair hearing” in North Carolina, the state where he was convicted. Id. at 1.
To the extent that Scott intends for this action to be construed as a petition for a writ of
habeas corpus, Scott has filed his petition in the wrong jurisdiction. When a prisoner
“challeng[es] the very fact or duration of his physical imprisonment, and . . . seeks . . . a
determination that he is entitled to immediate release or a speedier release from that
imprisonment, his sole federal remedy is a writ of habeas corpus.” Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411
U.S. 475, 500 (1973). Under 28 U.S.C. § 2241(a), district courts may grant habeas relief only
“within their respective jurisdictions.” “Because ‘[a] writ of habeas corpus does not act upon the
prisoner who seeks relief, but upon the person who holds him in . . . custody,’ a court may issue
the writ only if it has jurisdiction over that person.” Stokes v. U.S. Parole Comm’n, 374 F.3d
1235, 1237–38 (D.C. Cir. 2004) (alterations in original) (citation omitted) (quoting Braden v.
30th Judicial Cir. Ct. of Ky., 410 U.S. 484, 494–95 (1973)). Here, Scott has not named the
warden of the prison at which he is being held, and, more importantly, has not filed his petition
in “the district of [his] confinement,” the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West
Virginia. Rumsfeld v. Padilla, 542 U.S. 426, 443 (2004). This Court therefore lacks “territorial
jurisdiction” to entertain his petition for habeas relief. Day v. Obama, No. 15-671, 2015 WL
2122289, at *1 (D.D.C. May 1, 2015), aff’d sub nom. Day v. Trump, No. 15-5144 (D.C. Cir. June
23, 2017); see also Lane v. United States, No. 14-731, 2015 WL 6406398 (D.D.C. Oct. 21, 2015)
(explaining that the territorial-jurisdiction requirement is like personal jurisdiction or venue).
To the extent that Scott is not seeking habeas relief but, rather, seeks to compel the
United States to “concede” that he was never indicted on the charges of which he was convicted,
the Court must dismiss the complaint pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 28 U.S.C. §
1915A. Section 1915A instructs a court to dismiss a prisoner’s complaint if the complaint “fails
to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.” Id. § 1915A(b)(1); see Redmond v. Fulwood,
859 F.3d 11, 13 (D.C. Cir. 2017) (noting that § 1915A instructs courts to dismiss complaints sua
sponte). On its face, Scott’s complaint asserts claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the United
States and the U.S. Attorney General. But Section 1983 applies only to state and local actors.
See id.; Monell v. Dep’t of Social Servs. of City of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 690 (1978). And
although the Court is mindful of its duty to construe pro se complaints liberally, Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007), the Court cannot discern any other claim that would entitle Scott
to the relief he seeks.
Accordingly, the Court will DENY the motion for an expedited hearing. Dkt. 5. To the
extent Scott intends to petition the Court for a writ of habeas corpus, the Court will DISMISS
that petition without prejudice for lack of territorial jurisdiction, and, to the extent he seeks to
compel the United States merely to concede that he was not indicted, the Court will DISMISS
his complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
A separate order will issue.
/s/ Randolph D. Moss
RANDOLPH D. MOSS
United States District Judge
Date: August 29, 2017
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