Waters v. United States of America
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Deborah K. Chasanow on 3/25/2015. (kns, Deputy Clerk)(c/m 3/26/15)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
JAMES WILLIAM WATERS,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
* Civil Action No. DKC-14-3115
(Related Case Criminal No. DKC-11-305)
James William Waters, the self-represented Petitioner, is a prisoner confined to the
custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) and currently assigned to the Federal
Correctional Institution Petersburg Medium (“FCI Petersburg Medium”) in Petersburg, Virginia.
Waters filed a Motion for Sentencing Review Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §3742 alleging the BOP
improperly denied him a sentence reduction following his participation in the Residential Drug
Abuse Program. See United States v. Waters, Criminal No. DKC-11-305 (ECF No. 45). The
court construed the Motion as a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§2241 (see Waters v. United States, Civil Action No. DKC-14-3115 (ECF No. 2)) and directed
the Government to Respond. (ECF No. 3).
Respondent has filed a Motion to Dismiss for Improper Venue or in the alterative,
Motion to Transfer. (ECF No. 3). Waters opposes the motion. (ECF No. 5). Respondent has
replied. (ECF No. 6). No hearing is necessary to resolve the matter. See Local Rule 105.6 (D.
Md.). For the reasons that follow, the Motion to Dismiss shall be denied and the Motion to
Transfer granted. The petition shall be transferred to the Eastern District of Virginia.
Waters incorrectly maintains that it was error for the court to re-construe his motion
without providing him notice of its intention to do so. (ECF No. 5). He relies on Castro v.
United States, 540 U.S. 375 (2003), arguing that it was improper for the court to re-characterize
his motion. Castro, however, makes it improper for a court to reconstrue a motion filed by a
self-represented litigant as a first motion filed pursuant to §2255 without providing the movant
notice of the court’s intention. Castro and its progeny are specifically applied in the context of
first motions for relief filed pursuant to §2255.
The court did not reconstrue Waters’ petition as filed under §2255 but rather as a petition
filed pursuant to §2241. Castro permits a court to recharacterize a motion filed by a selfrepresented litigant to create better correspondence between the subject of the motion and its
underlying legal basis. See Castro v. United States, 540 U.S. at 381. Regardless of the label
used, it is the subject matter of the motion and not its title which determines its status. See
Calderon v. Thompson, 523 U.S. 538, 553-54 (1998). Accordingly, the recharacterization of
Waters’ motion was proper.1
The proper jurisdiction for a § 2241 habeas corpus petition is in the federal district court
where a petitioner is incarcerated or in the federal district court where the petitioner’s custodian
is located. Braden v. 30th Judicial Circuit Court of Kentucky, 410 U.S. 484, 488-89 (1973).
Petitioner is confined in Petersburg, Virginia, and his custodian, or the person who has the dayto-day responsibility for his custody, is the warden at FCI Petersburg. Therefore, this court finds
that jurisdiction of the instant action lies in Virginia, not in Maryland. Accordingly, the
undersigned concludes that transfer of instant case to the United States District Court for the
Eastern District of Virginia is appropriate.
A separate Order follows.
March 25, 2015
DEBORAH K. CHASANOW
United States District Judge
Waters’ Motion for Sentencing Review Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §3742 (United States v. Waters,
Criminal No. DKC-11-305 (ECF No. 45)) shall be denied. This court is without jurisdiction to entertain a motion
filed under 18 U.S.C. §3742, as that statute governs appellate review of a district court’s sentencing decision. See
United States v. Auman, 8 F.3d 1268, 1270-71 (8th Cir. 1993).
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