SCOTT v. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
OPINION. Signed by Judge Robert B. Kugler on 2/27/2014. (bdk, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Civ. No. 13-7166 (RBK)
ROBERT B. KUGLER, U.S.D.J.
Petitioner is a federal prisoner incarcerated at F.C.I. Fort Dix in Fort Dix, New Jersey.
Petitioner is currently serving a sentence of 188 months imprisonment after he pled guilty in the
United States District Court for the District of South Carolina to one count of knowingly,
intentionally and unlawfully possessing with the intent to distribute a quantity of heroin.
Petitioner is proceeding with a pro se with a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 2241. 1 On December 11, 2013, this matter was administratively terminated as
Section 2241 states in relevant part:
Writs of habeas corpus may be granted by the Supreme Court, any
justice thereof, the district courts and any circuit judge within their
respective jurisdictions . . .
The writ of habeas corpus shall not extend to a prisoner unless –
(1) He is in custody under or by color of the authority of the United
States or is committed for trial before some court thereof; or
(2) He is in custody for an act done or omitted in pursuance of an
Act of Congress, or an order, process, judgment or decree of a
court or judge of the United States; or
(3) He is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or
treaties of the United States; or
(4) He being a citizen of a foreign state and domiciled therein is in
custody for an act done or omitted under any alleged right, title,
petitioner had neither paid the filing fee nor submitted an application to proceed in forma
pauperis. On December 26, 2013, this Court received petitioner’s application to proceed in
forma pauperis. Accordingly, the Clerk will be ordered to reopen this matter. Petitioner’s
application to proceed in forma pauperis will be granted based on the information provided
therein. For the following reasons, the habeas petition will be dismissed due to a lack of
Petitioner appealed his judgment and sentence to the United States Court of Appeals for
the Fourth Circuit after the District of South Carolina entered judgment against him. On April
29, 2011, the Fourth Circuit affirmed the judgment and sentence. See United States v. Scott, 426
F. App’x 169 (4th Cir. 2011) (per curiam). 2
On April 25, 2012, petitioner filed a motion to vacate, set aside or correct his sentence
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 in the District of South Carolina. (See D.S.C. Crim. No. 09-991,
Dkt. No. 67.) Petitioner raised ineffective assistance of counsel claims in that petition. On
October 2, 2012, the District of South Carolina denied petitioner’s § 2255 motion. (See id. Dkt.
Nos. 86 & 87.) Petitioner appealed and the Fourth Circuit denied a certificate of appealability
authority, privilege, protection, or exemption claimed under the
commission, order or sanction of any foreign state, or under color
thereof, the validity and effect of which depend upon the law of
(5) It is necessary to bring him into court to testify or for trial.
28 U.S.C. § 2241(a) & (c).
The Court takes judicial notice of the prior opinions in petitioner’s federal criminal proceedings
and subsequent federal habeas proceedings. See McPherson v. United States, 392 F. App’x 938,
940 n.1 (3d Cir. 2010) (taking judicial notice of the official record of prior court proceedings).
and dismissed the appeal on January 23, 2013. See United States v. Scott, 506 F. App’x 215 (4th
Cir. 2013) (per curiam).
In December,, 2013, this Court received the instant § 2241 habeas petition. Petitioner
raises two claims in this habeas petition related to his criminal conviction and judgment in the
District of South Carolina. First, he claims that his due process rights were violated due to
incorrectly applying career offender status on petitioner under the United States Sentencing
Guidelines. Second, he claims that not all of elements of the charge were presented to a jury
beyond a reasonable doubt because the drug amount was not listed in the indictment.
STANDARD FOR SUA SPONTE DISMISSAL
With respect to screening the instant petition, 28 U.S.C. § 2243 provides in relevant part:
A court, justice or judge entertaining an application for a writ of
habeas corpus shall forthwith award the writ or issue an order
directing the respondent to show cause why the writ should not be
granted, unless it appears from the application that the applicant or
person detained is not entitled thereto.
As petitioner is proceeding pro se, his petition is held to less stringent standards than those
pleadings drafted by lawyers. See Rainey v. Varner, 603 F.3d 189, 198 (3d Cir. 2010) (“It is the
policy of the courts to give a liberal construction to pro se habeas petitions.”) (internal quotation
marks and citation omitted); United States v. Otero, 502 F.3d 331, 334 (3d Cir. 2007) (“we
construe pro se pleadings liberally.”) (citing Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972)).
Nevertheless, “a district court is authorized to dismiss a [habeas] petition summarily when it
plainly appears from the face of the petition and any exhibits annexed to it that the petitioner is
not entitled to relief in the district court[.]” Lonchar v. Thomas, 517 U.S. 314, 320 (1996).
Petitioner is challenging the criminal conviction and sentence he received in the District
of South Carolina in this § 2241 federal habeas action. Generally, a challenge to the validity of a
federal conviction or sentence must be brought under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. See Jackman v. Shartle,
535 F. App’x 87, 88 (3d Cir. 2013) (per curiam) (citing Okereke v. United States, 307 F.3d 117,
120 (3d Cir. 2002)). This is generally true because § 2255 prohibits a district court from
entertaining a challenge to a prisoner’s federal sentence through § 2241 unless the remedy under
§ 2255 is “inadequate or ineffective.” See 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e). Indeed, § 2255(e) states that:
[a]n application for a writ of habeas corpus in behalf of a prisoner
who is authorized to apply for relief by motion pursuant to this
section, shall not be entertained if it appears that the applicant has
failed to apply for relief, by motion, to the court which sentenced
him, or that such a court has denied him relief, unless it also
appears that the remedy by the motion is inadequate or ineffective
to test the legality of his detention.
28 U.S.C. § 2255(e). A § 2255 motion is “inadequate or ineffective,” which permits a petitioner
to resort to a § 2241 petition, “only where the petitioner demonstrates that some limitation or
procedure would prevent a § 2255 proceeding from affording him a full hearing and adjudication
of his wrongful [sentence] claim.” Cradle v. U.S. ex rel. Miner, 290 F.3d 536, 538 (3d Cir.
2002) (citations omitted). However, “[s]ection 2255 is not inadequate or ineffective merely
because the sentencing court does not grant relief, the one-year statute of limitations has expired,
or the petitioner is unable to meet the stringent gatekeeping requirements of . . . § 2255.”
Cradle, 290 F.3d at 539 (citations omitted). “It is the inefficacy of the remedy, not the personal
inability to use it, that is determinative.” Id. at 538 (citation omitted). “The provision exists to
ensure that petitioners have a fair opportunity to seek collateral relief, not to enable them to
evade procedural requirements.” Id. at 539 (citing In re Dorsainvil, 119 F.3d 245, 251-52 (3d
In Dorsainvil, the Third Circuit held that the remedy provided by § 2255 is “inadequate
or ineffective,” permitting resort to § 2241, where a prisoner who previously had filed a § 2255
motion on other grounds “had no earlier opportunity to challenge his conviction for a crime that
an intervening change in substantive law may negate[.]” 119 F.3d at 251. Nevertheless, the
Third Circuit emphasized that its holding was not suggesting that a § 2255 motion was
“inadequate or ineffective” merely because a petitioner is unable to meet the strict gatekeeping
requirements of § 2255. See id. The “safety valve,” as stated in Dorsainvil, is a narrow one and
has been held to apply in situations where the prisoner has had no prior opportunity to challenge
his conviction for a crime later deemed to be non-criminal by an intervening change in the law.
See Okereke, 307 F.3d at 120 (citing Dorsainvil, 119 F.3d at 251).
Petitioner argues that he was improperly sentenced. Relying on the Fourth Circuit case in
United States v. Davis, 720 F.3d 215 (4th Cir. 2013), petitioner asserts that the District of South
Carolina improperly applied a career offender enhancement to his sentence “by counting a
consolidated sentence containing three charges as satisfying the ‘two prior convictions”, when in
essence the charge was consolidated into one charge concurrently applied. Additionally, relying
on the United States Supreme Court decision in Alleyne v. United States, - U.S. -, 133 S. Ct.
2151 (2013), petitioner states that he was improperly sentenced because facts were found true by
the judge as opposed to a jury.
Petitioner does not allege facts which bring him within the Dorsainvil exception.
Petitioner does not allege in the instant habeas petition that he had no earlier opportunity to
challenge his conviction for a crime that an intervening change in substantive law may negate.
Petitioner’s first claim argues that he was improperly given a career offender enhancement under
the sentencing guidelines. Such an argument has been found to be insufficient to fall within the
Dorsainvil exception as it relates to an argument that petitioner is factually innocent of a
sentencing enhancement as opposed to being factually innocent of the crime for which he was
Accord United States v. Brown, 456 F. App’x 79, 81 (3d Cir. 2012) (per curiam)
(“We have held that § 2255’s ‘safety valve’ applies only in rare circumstances, such as when an
intervening change in the statute under which the petitioner was convicted renders the
petitioner’s conduct non-criminal. Brown has not satisfied that standard here, as he makes no
allegation that he is actually innocent of the crime for which he was convicted, but instead
asserts only that he is ‘innocent’ of being a career offender.”) (internal citation omitted), cert.
denied, 133 S. Ct. 201 (2012); Selby v. Scism, 453 F. App’x 266, 268 (3d Cir. 2011) (per curiam)
(“Selby does not argue that he is innocent of the offense for which he was convicted; he argues
that he is “innocent” of a sentencing enhancement because of an intervening change in law.
Accordingly, the exception described in In re Dorsainvil does not apply.”); Robinson v.
Hollingsworth, No. 13-0101, 2013 WL 141441, at *2 (D.N.J. Jan. 11, 2013) (“Section 2255 is
not inadequate or ineffective for Robinson’s challenge to his sentencing enhancement as a career
offender, however, because he does not contend that, as a result of a Supreme Court decision
issued subsequent to his § 2255 motion, the conduct for which he was convicted - possession
with intent to distribute cocaine, is not non-criminal.”); Crawford v. United States, No. 12-1545,
2012 WL 5199167, at *5 (D.N.J. Oct. 19, 2012) (“The safety valve under § 2255 does not apply
when an inmate challenges the enhancement of his sentence as Petitioner does here.”).
Additionally, petitioner’s reliance on the Supreme Court’s decision in Alleyne does not
fall within the Dorsainvil exception to permit this § 2241 habeas petition to move forward.
Indeed, as the Third Circuit has recently stated:
[Petitioner] cannot avail himself of the [Dorsainvil] exception in
this case. As noted above, he relies on the Supreme Court’s
decision in Alleyne to support his petition. Alleyne is essentially an
extension of Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000): in
Apprendi, the Court held that under the Fifth And Sixth
Amendments, “[o]ther than the fact of a prior conviction, any fact
that increases the penalty for a crime beyond the prescribed
statutory maximum must be submitted to a jury, and proved
beyond a reasonable doubt,” Apprendi, 530 U.S. at 490, and in
Alleyne, the Court held that the same rule applies also to “facts that
increase mandatory minimum sentences,” Alleyne, 133 S. Ct. at
2163. We have held that, “§ 2255 [i]s not inadequate or ineffective
for [a prisoner] to raise his Apprendi argument,” Okereke, 307 F.3d
at 121, and there is no basis to treat claims brought under Alleyene
Sacksith v. Warden Canaan USP, No. 13-4060, 2014 WL 279754, at *2 (3d Cir. Jan. 27, 2014)
(per curiam). Similar to Sacksith, petitioner’s reliance in Alleyene in this case does not warrant
finding that this case falls within the Dorsainvil exception to establish jurisdiction. 3 Accord
Sacksith, 2014 WL 279754, at *2. Therefore, this Court lacks jurisdiction to consider the instant
habeas petition filed pursuant to § 2241 as petitioner attacks his federal criminal conviction and
sentence, but does not fall within the Dorsainvil exception to permit this § 2241 action.
Whenever a civil action is filed in a court that lacks jurisdiction, “the court shall, if it is in
the interests of justice, transfer such action . . . to any other such court in which the action . . .
could have been brought at the time it was filed.” 28 U.S.C. § 1631. In this case, the Court does
not find it in the interests of justice to transfer this habeas petition to the Fourth Circuit as a
request to file a second or successive § 2255 motion. However, such a finding does not prevent
Additionally, it is also worth noting that petitioner pled guilty as opposed to have his case heard
by a jury.
petitioner from seeking leave from the Fourth Circuit to file a second or successive § 2255
motion should he elect to do so.
For the foregoing reasons, the habeas petition will be dismissed due to a lack of
jurisdiction. An appropriate order will be entered.
DATED: February 27, 2014
s/Robert B. Kugler
ROBERT B. KUGLER
United States District Judge
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