PETERSON v. UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
MEMORANDUM OPINION dismissing action as frivolous. See Opinion for details. Signed by Judge Randolph D. Moss on 5/30/2017. (lcrdm3, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Civil Action No. 17-378 (RDM)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR
THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA,
Pro se prisoner Timothy Peterson brings what he styles a petition for a writ of habeas
corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Dkt. 1 at 1. The nub of his theory is that Public Law 80772, 62 Stat. 683 (1948)—which codified title 18 of the United States Code dealing with federal
crimes—was enacted in violation of the Constitution’s Quorum Clause and was “void ab initio.”
Id. at 11; see U.S. Const., Art. I, § 5, c. 1. Peterson seeks his “immediate release,” damages for
his “illegal incarceration,” and an order “that he never pay taxes again.” Dkt. 1 at 33. Suffice it
to say, Peterson’s petition is frivolous, and the Court will dismiss it as such.
For starters, this Court lacks jurisdiction to order Peterson’s release. “The general rule is
that a motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 is the exclusive means by which a federal prisoner may
test the legality of his detention.” Stephens v. Herrera, 464 F.3d 895, 897 (9th Cir. 2006). Such
a motion must be brought in “the court which imposed the sentence,” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a),
which, for Peterson, is the Southern District of Alabama, see Dkt. 1 at 1; United States v.
Peterson, 10-cr-183 (S.D. Ala. Feb. 14, 2011), ECF No. 23. But, if the § 2255 remedy
“appears . . . inadequate or ineffective,” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e), the prisoner may seek habeas “in
the custodial court,” Hernandez v. Campbell, 204 F.3d 861, 865 (9th Cir. 2000), which, for
Peterson, is the District of Colorado, see Dkt. 1 at 34 (identifying Peterson’s place of
incarceration as FCI Englewood in Littleton, Colorado). Either way, this Court is not the
appropriate forum for collateral attack of Peterson’s confinement.
To the extent Peterson also seeks damages or other relief as compensation for his
allegedly unlawful sentence, his claim must also fail. Under Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477
(1994), “in order to recover damages for allegedly unconstitutional conviction or imprisonment,”
a plaintiff “must prove that the conviction or sentence has been reversed on direct appeal,
expunged by executive order, declared invalid by a state tribunal authorized to make such
determination, or called into question by a federal court’s issuance of a writ of habeas corpus.”
Id. at 486–87. Because Peterson has not demonstrated that his conviction or sentence has been
invalidated, his “complaint must be dismissed.” Id. at 487.
Finally, although it hardly bears mentioning, Peterson’s claim that title 18 of the U.S.
Code was enacted in an unconstitutional manner is frivolous. United States v. Collins, 510 F.3d
697, 698 (7th Cir. 2007) (ordering the lawyer advancing this argument to show cause why he
should not be sanctioned for doing so). That claim, which is apparently “one of the jailhouse
lawyers’ arguments du jour,” United States v. Schultz, No. 03-cr-08, 2007 WL 2872387, at *2
(D. Minn. Sept. 26, 2007), has been “routinely rejected out of hand by an extremely large
number of district court[s],” Cardenas-Celestino v. United States, 552 F. Supp. 2d 962, 966
(W.D. Mo. 2008) (collecting cases). Indeed, this Court recently rejected two identical petitions,
also from FCI Englewood, which copied the same habeas petition template verbatim. See
Newsom v. U.S. Dist. Court for D.C., 17-cv-411 (D.D.C. Apr. 25, 2017) (dismissing petition
identical in all respects except the name of the petitioner); Ransom v. U.S. Dist. Court for D.C.,
17-375 (D.D.C. Apr. 6, 2017) (same). This decision adds to the litany of cases rejecting this
cookie-cutter claim as frivolous.
The Court will DISMISS this petition because it is frivolous, because it is brought in an
impermissible forum, and because it otherwise fails 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: May 30, 2017
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?