CROOKER v. HOLLINGSWORTH
OPINION FILED. Signed by Judge Noel L. Hillman on 4/29/15. (js)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
MICHAEL ALAN CROOKER,
Civ. No. 15-2266 (NLH)
Michael Alan Crooker, # 03631-158
FCI Fort Dix
P.O. Box 2000
Fort Dix, NJ 08640
Petitioner, pro se
HILLMAN, District Judge
Petitioner, Michael Alan Crooker, requests a writ for
habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 on the basis that he
has been, and continues to be, denied certain medical care.
has paid the requisite filing fee.
For the reasons expressed
below, the Petition will be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.
On July 11, 2006, a jury convicted Petitioner of
transporting a firearm after being convicted of a felony under §
18 U.S.C. § 922(g) (“the firearms charge”).
successfully appealed his conviction, arguing that the jury
instructions mischaracterized the law, and a Certificate of
Innocence was issued by the United States District Court for the
District of Massachusetts on November 20, 2010. See United
States v. Crooker, 608 F.3d 94, 96 (1st Cir. 2010).
immediately after his release from prison based on the reversal
of his firearms conviction, he was taken into custody by the
Bureau of Prisons on the basis of the charges contained in an
indictment that had issued almost three years earlier.
Specifically, Petitioner was charged with nine criminal counts,
including mailing a threatening communication and possession or
production of a toxin for use as a weapon (“threat and toxin
In a plea agreement dated March 24, 2011, Petitioner
pled guilty to mailing a threatening communication and to
possession of a toxin without registration.
Pursuant to the
plea agreement, Petitioner agreed to dismiss certain civil
lawsuits he had filed and his recommended sentence was reduced
by the time he spent in federal detention in relation to the
Petitioner is currently serving time on
that sentence and his projected release date is August 22, 2017.
On June 18, 2014, Petitioner filed a request for writ of
habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 in the United States
District Court for the District of Maryland (the “Maryland
Petition”). Crooker v. Stewart, Civ. No. 14-1972 (D.Md. June 18,
In the Maryland Petition, Petitioner stated that he
suffered from end-stage liver disease and esophageal varices and
alleged that he had been refused recommended prescriptions and
other medication by the staff at FCI Cumberland, the facility in
which he was confined at the time.
Because of the serious nature of the allegations raised,
the Maryland Court issued an Order to Show Cause as to why
injunctive relief should not be granted and ordered an immediate
response from respondents.
A slew of filings ensued, including
a Motion to Dismiss, which was ultimately construed as a Motion
for Summary Judgment.
On March 13, 2015, the United States
District Court for the District of Maryland issued a Memorandum
Opinion and Order granting the dispositive motion filed on
behalf of respondents, dismissing the petition for habeas relief
and denying Petitioner’s request for injunctive relief.
Memorandum and Order, Crooker v. Stewart, Civ. No. 14-1972
(D.Md. Mar. 13, 2015) ECF No. 22, 23.
On March 9, 2015, prior to the Maryland Court’s March 13,
2015 Order, Petitioner was transferred from FCI Cumberland to
FCI Fort Dix in New Jersey.
Upon his arrival, and prior to
learning of the disposition of the Maryland Petition, he filed
the request for habeas relief presently before this Court.
In this Petition, he raises essentially the same argument
set forth in the Maryland Petition.
Petitioner asserts that in
October 2013, while confined in FMC Devens, he was taken to the
Beth Israel Liver Center in Boston for an expert consultation
related to his reinfection with the Hepatitis C virus.
Petitioner states that an expert doctor at the Beth Israel Liver
Center recommended treatment with the medicines Sofosbuvir and
Ribavirin and also recommended 6-month imaging studies,
endoscopies every 2-3 years, and a follow-up appointment with a
In November 2013, Petitioner was transferred from FCI
Devens to FCI Cumberland.
Petitioner states that, following his
arrival at FCI Cumberland, Sofosbuvir was approved by the FDA
but that medical staff at FCI Cumberland refused to provide the
drug to Petitioner.
Petitioner also alleges that the doctor at
FCI Cumberland disregarded all of the expert doctor’s
recommendations except for the imaging studies every six months.
Petitioner also states that upon his arrival at FCI Fort
Dix, he was told that he would not receive the drug Sofosbuvir
or the periodic imaging studies that were recommended by the
expert doctor at the Beth Israel Liver Center.
In his Amended
Document, Petitioner alleges his next ultrasound and endoscopy
are due April 28, 2015 and May 31, 2015, respectively. (Am. Doc.
2, ECF No. 2).
STANDARDS OF REVIEW
United States Code Title 28, Section 2243, provides in
relevant part as follows:
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.
A pro se pleading is held to less stringent standards than
more formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Estelle v. Gamble, 429
U.S. 97, 106 (1976); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972).
A pro se habeas petition must be construed liberally. See
Hunterson v. DiSabato, 308 F.3d 236, 243 (3d Cir. 2002).
Nevertheless, a federal district court can dismiss a habeas
corpus petition if it appears from the face of the petition that
the petitioner is not entitled to relief. See Denny v. Schult,
708 F.3d 140, 148 n. 3 (3d Cir. 2013); see also 28 U.S.C. §§
2243, 2241, 2254.
A. Successive Petition Under § 2244(a)
As an initial matter, the Court notes that the Petition
presently before the Court reasserts the claims raised in the
Maryland Petition and addressed by the United States District
Court for the District of Maryland.
It is established that
standard principles of res judicata and collateral estoppel do
not apply in habeas proceedings. See Sanders v. United States,
373 U.S. 1, 6–7, 83 S.Ct. 1068, 10 L.Ed.2d 148 (1963).
this Court has explained that,
. . . although not expressly referenced in § 2244(a),
courts have consistently held that the substantive
provisions of § 2244 are applicable to § 2241 habeas
petitions brought by federal prisoners. See Felker v.
Turpin, 518 U.S. 651, 664, 116 S.Ct. 2333, 135 L.Ed.2d
827 (1996) (holding that the restrictions on
successive petitions found in § 2244, “constitute a
modified res judicata rule, a restraint on what is
called in habeas corpus practice ‘abuse of the writ’”
and applying those principles to an original petition
filed under 28 U.S.C. § 2241); Valona v. United
States, 138 F.3d 693, 695 (7th Cir. 1998) (holding
that § 2244(a) bars successive petitions under § 2241
directed to the same issue concerning execution of a
sentence); Chambers v. United States, 106 F.3d 472,
474–75 (2d Cir. 1997) (dismissing § 2241 petition as
successive pursuant to § 2244); Byrd v. Gillis, 1997
WL 698157, at *1 (E.D.Pa. 1997) (applying § 2244's
requirements of second and successive petitions to a
petition for writ of habeas corpus filed under §
Brown v. Grondolsky, Civ. No. 08-5811, 2009 WL 3030082 at *4
(D.N.J. Sept. 16, 2009).
Thus, Petitioner may not reassert in
this district the allegations and claims raised in the Maryland
Petition and addressed on the merits by the United States
District Court for the District of Maryland. 28 U.S.C. §
2244(a); See Memorandum and Order, Crooker v. Stewart, Civ. No.
14-1972 (D.Md. March 13, 2015) ECF No. 22, 23.
Accordingly, the Petition will be dismissed as successive
to the extent it reasserts the claims raised in the Maryland
B. New Allegations
With respect to Petitioner’s new allegations, he alleges
that he was told by a health practitioner at FCI Fort Dix that
he would not receive the imaging studies that he previously
received every six months.
Additionally, Petitioner states that
he was told at FCI Fort Dix that he did not qualify for the drug
Sofosbuvir because he was assigned an AST-to-platelet ratio
index (APRI) score of 0.3.
Pursuant to the Interim Guidance for
the Management of Chronic Hepatitis C Infection, an inmate’s
APRI score is used to determine the degree of fibrosis and to
prioritize treatment. FEDERAL BUREAU
PRISONS, INTERIM GUIDANCE
CHRONIC HEPATITIS C INFECTION, § 2, 1 (June 2014).
Petitioner states that his APRI score was “wrongfully alleged to
trump the advanced fibrosis/cirrhosis criteria” outlined in the
BOP’s clinical practice guidelines. (Pet. 9, ECF No. 1).
1. No Jurisdiction Under § 2241
A habeas corpus petition is the proper mechanism for a
federal prisoner to challenge the “fact or duration” of his
confinement, Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 498–99, 93
S.Ct. 1827, 36 L.Ed.2d 439 (1973), including challenges to
prison disciplinary proceedings that affect the length of
confinement, such as deprivation of good time credits, Muhammad
v. Close, 540 U.S. 749, 124 S.Ct. 1303, 158 L.Ed.2d 32 (2004)
and Edwards v. Balisok, 520 U.S. 641, 117 S.Ct. 1584, 137
L.Ed.2d 906 (1997). See also Wilkinson v. Dotson, 544 U.S. 74,
125 S.Ct. 1242, 161 L.Ed.2d 253 (2005).
In addition, where a
prisoner seeks a “quantum change” in the level of custody, for
example, where a prisoner claims to be entitled to probation or
bond or parole, habeas is the appropriate form of action. See,
e.g., Graham v. Broglin, 922 F.2d 379 (7th Cir. 1991), and cases
cited therein; see also Woodall v. Federal Bureau of Prisons,
432 F.3d 235, 237, 243 (3d Cir. 2005) (finding that a challenge
to regulations limiting pre-release transfer to community
corrections centers was properly brought in habeas, because
community confinement is “‘qualitatively different from
confinement in a traditional prison’” (citation omitted)).
The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has held that
habeas corpus is an appropriate mechanism, also, for a federal
prisoner to challenge the execution of his sentence. See Coady
v. Vaughn, 251 F.3d 480, 485–86 (3d Cir. 2001) (noting that
federal prisoners may challenge the denial of parole under §
2241); Barden v. Keohane, 921 F.2d 476, 478–79 (3d Cir. 1990)
(entertaining challenge to Bureau of Prisons refusal to consider
prisoner's request that state prison be designated place for
service of federal sentence, in order that state and federal
sentences could run concurrently). See also George v. Longley,
463 F. App'x 136 (3d Cir. 2012) (citing Coady, 251 F.3d 480, and
Barden, 921 F.2d 476).
The Court of Appeals has noted that “the precise meaning of
‘execution of the sentence’ is hazy.” Woodall, 432 F.3d at 237.
However, to the extent a prisoner challenges his conditions of
confinement, such claims must be raised by way of a civil rights
[W]henever the challenge ultimately attacks the “core
of habeas”-the validity of the continued conviction or
the fact or length of the sentence-a challenge,
however denominated and regardless of the relief
sought, must be brought by way of a habeas corpus
petition. Conversely, when the challenge is to a
condition of confinement such that a finding in
plaintiff's favor would not alter his sentence or undo
his conviction, an action under § 1983 is appropriate.
Leamer v. Fauver, 288 F.3d 532, 542 (3d Cir. 2002). See also
Bonadonna v. United States, 446 F. App'x 407 (3d Cir. 2011)
(holding that District Court properly dismissed § 2241 petition
for lack of jurisdiction where petitioner's allegation of
deficient medical care does not “‘spell speedier release,’” and
thus does not lie at “‘the core of habeas corpus.’” (citations
In this case, Petitioner's claims regarding medical care
are not properly asserted in this § 2241 action, as they would
not alter his sentence or undo his conviction.
Petition must be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.
is free to raise his claims in a civil complaint filed under
Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of
Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388, 389, 91 S.Ct. 1999, 29 L.Ed.2d 619
(1971) or an action pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act
The Court does not express any opinion as to the
legal viability of such claims.
Should Petitioner proceed with a civil complaint,
Petitioner is on notice that he must first exhaust his
administrative remedies. See 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a); see also
Bonadonna, 446 F. App'x at 409.
Along those same lines, it is
worth noting that some of the conduct which Petitioner asserts
violates his rights has not yet occurred.
Petitioner states that he has been told that he will be denied
an imaging study at FCI Fort Dix.
previously indicated that he received imaging studies every six
months and, as of the date of the filing of this Petition, he
had been confined at FCI Fort Dix for less than one month.
Additionally, with respect to treatment at FCI Fort Dix,
Petitioner only mentions his APRI score and does not allege that
he has been reevaluated for candidacy in, and subsequently
denied, a treatment regimen involving Sofosbuvir.
some of the relief requested appears to be purely speculative
and may not present a “case or controversy” under Article III.
See Blakeney v. Marsico, 340 F. App’x 778, 780 (3d Cir. 2009)
(citing City of Los Angeles v. Lyons, 461 U.S. 95, 101-110, 103
S.Ct. 1660, 75 L.Ed.2d 675 (1983)).
To the extent Petitioner states that he cannot file a
complaint under Bivens because “numerous of the prison medical
staff” are U.S. Public Health Service employees (Pet. 1, ECF No.
1), the Court notes that Petitioner has not identified any
Thus, his assumption that Bivens is
inapplicable to his case has no basis in fact.
Also, to the
extent that Petitioner asserts that he filed this Petition
pursuant to § 2241 because he has no other available remedy at
law since the FTCA does not authorize injunctive relief, the
Court notes that district courts may have authority to compel
certain action, in limited circumstances, under 28 U.S.C. § 1361
or the All Writs Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1651.
2. No Medical Emergency
The Court does not doubt the seriousness of Petitioner’s
However, nothing in the Petition leads the
Court to believe that he is in imminent medical danger or that
his condition has worsened since the filing of his last
To the contrary, Petitioner admits he received an
APRI score of 0.3 which, on its own, does not indicate advanced
fibrosis/cirrhosis pursuant to the BOP Clinical Practice
Accordingly, there is nothing before the Court to
suggest an emergent situation.
For the foregoing reasons, the Court will dismiss the
Petition for lack of jurisdiction.
An appropriate Order will
___s/ Noel L. Hillman_____
NOEL L. HILLMAN
United States District Judge
Dated: April 29, 2015
At Camden, New Jersey
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?