CHAMBERS v. MONTGOMERY COUNTY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 12/22/2015. (TH, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
LEONARD W. CHAMBERS, a/k/a
REVEREND LEONARD CHAMBERS,
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE
No. 15-8788 (JBS)
MONTGOMERY COUNTY CORRECTIONAL
SIMANDLE, Chief Judge:
This matter comes before the Court by way of Petitioner
Leonard W. Chambers, a/k/a Reverend Leonard Chambers’
(hereinafter, “Petitioner”) petition for habeas relief filed
today under 28 U.S.C. § 2241, as well as his motion for an
[See Docket Items 1 & 2.]
For the reasons
that follow, Petitioner’s habeas petition will be dismissed, and
his motion for an emergent hearing will be dismissed as moot.
The Court finds as follows:
Factual and Procedural Background.
failed to appear for scheduled criminal hearings on April 20,
2011, April 26, 2011, and May 2, 2011, Superior Court Judge
Jeanne T. Covert issued a bench warrant for Petitioner’s arrest
as a detainer, pending his release from correctional facilities
in Pennsylvania. 1
[See Docket Item 1.]
On August 11, 2014,
authorities in Pennsylvania arrested Petitioner on the
outstanding detainer warrant and detained him at Montgomery
County Correctional Facility, where he has remained pending
extradition on the outstanding New Jersey criminal charges. 2
As a result, counsel for Petitioner wrote to Judge
Covert on July 13, 2015, and requested that the detainer warrant
be lifted (and that a new hearing be scheduled), because
Petitioner was incarcerated and therefore unavailable at the
time of the missed hearings.
Covert’s alleged denial of Petitioner’s request, he filed, with
counsel, the pending federal habeas petition.
In his petition, he argues (1) that Judge Covert’s
failure to conduct a “Fugitive of Justice” hearing “violate[s]
his rights,” (2) that the original warrant issued without
The Petition provides little detail on the basis for
Petitioner’s New Jersey state court criminal charges. In his
motion for an emergent hearing, however, Petitioner claims that
the “underlying charges stem from the alleged failure to have a
home contractor’s license for his carpet business.” (Pet’s’s
Br. at ¶ 9.)
2 Although Petitioner states that his Pennsylvania incarceration
occurred on account of the detainer warrant, the documents
appended to his habeas petition reflect that the First Judicial
District of Pennsylvania sentenced Petitioner to a period of
incarceration in the Montgomery County Correctional Facility for
a seemingly separate charge of deceptive business practices.
[See Docket Item 1.]
probable cause, (3) that the underlying criminal charges from
2011 “should not have been filed,” and (4) that Petitioner’s
status as a “Bon[a] Fide Minister” allowed him operate without a
[Docket Item 1 at 7-9.]
Standard of Review.
This federal district court must
dismiss a habeas corpus petition if it appears from the face of
the petition that the petitioner has no entitlement to relief.
See Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Proceedings (made
applicable here through Rule 1(b)); see also McFarland v. Scott,
512 U.S. 849, 856 (1994); Siers v. Ryan, 773 F.2d 37, 45 (3d
Cir. 1985), cert. denied, 490 U.S. 1025 (1989).
As relevant here, 28 U.S.C. §
2241 grants this federal district Court limited jurisdiction to
issue a writ of habeas corpus prior to the entry of a criminal
judgment in state court.
See Moore v. De Young, 515 F.2d 437,
441-42 (3d Cir. 1975). “Nevertheless, that jurisdiction must be
exercised sparingly in order to prevent in the ordinary
circumstance ‘pre-trial habeas interference by federal courts in
the normal functioning of state criminal processes.’” Duran v.
Thomas, 393 F. App’x. 3, 4 (3d Cir. 2010) (quoting Moore, 515
F.3d at 445-46).
Indeed, the Court of Appeals for the Third
Circuit has concluded that federal district courts should
exercise their “pre-trial” habeas jurisdiction only if the
petitioner makes an extraordinary showing of the need for such
adjudication and has exhausted state remedies.
Moore, 515 F.3d
The pending habeas Petition, however,
falls far short of demonstrating extraordinary circumstances
sufficient to justify this federal court’s intervention, prior
to the presentment of these issues to New Jersey’s appellate
Indeed, in order to satisfy the mandatory exhaustion
requirements, “[a] claim must be presented not only to the trial
court but also to the state’s intermediate court as well as to
its supreme court.”
Evans v. Court of Common Pleas, Del. Cnty.,
Pa., 959 F.2d 1227, 1230 (3d Cir. 1992).
Petitioner has presented his challenges only to the New Jersey
Superior Court, and has made no attempt to bring his claims
before the New Jersey Appellate Division (much less the New
Jersey Supreme Court).
[See Docket Item 1.]
“Once he has exhausted [these] state court remedies,
the federal courts will, of course, be open to him, if need be,
to entertain any petition for habeas corpus relief which may be
Moore, 515 F.3d at 449.
Nevertheless, the present
procedural circumstances of this action require dismissal of the
In the event Petitioner files a new habeas petition after he
exhausts his state remedies, he may also want to consider
whether his petition should be filed in the Eastern District of
Pennsylvania, rather than in this District, see 28 U.S.C. §
2241(d), if Petitioner is confined under a judgment in
Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.
See Kerns v. Owens, No. 15-1099, 2015 WL 1622015, at
*2-*3 (D.N.J. Apr. 9, 2015) (dismissing a habeas petition for
failure to exhaust all available state remedies).
Moreover, because Petitioner has not made “a
substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right,” no
certificate of appealability shall issue.
See Miller–El v.
Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 327 (2003).
An accompanying Order will be entered.
December 22, 2015
s/ Jerome B. Simandle
JEROME B. SIMANDLE
Chief U.S. District Judge
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