CARPENTER v. ORTIZ
OPINION. Signed by Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 9/13/17. (jbk, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE
No. 17-3234 (JBS)
Stephen Carpenter, Petitioner pro se
Federal Correctional Institution
East: PO Box 2000
Fort Dix, New Jersey 08640
SIMANDLE, U.S. District Judge:
This matter comes before the Court on Stephen Carpenter’s
petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241.
Petition, Docket Entry 1. For the reasons set forth below, the
petition is dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.
Petitioner pled guilty to possession of child pornography,
18 U.S.C. § 2252A(a)(5)(B) in the United States District Court
for the Northern District of Texas on August 20, 2013. Petition
¶ 6; Brief in Support at 1. He was sentenced on December 20,
2013 to 120-months imprisonment with a 10-year period of
supervised release. See United States v. Carpenter, No. 5:13-cr00059 (N.D. Tex. Dec. 20, 2013);1 Brief in Support at 1.
In December 2014, Petitioner filed a motion to correct,
vacate, or set aside his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255
raising claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. Petition ¶
10(a). The district court denied the motion, and the United
States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit denied a
certificate of appealability. Id. In November 2016, he requested
permission from the Fifth Circuit to file a second § 2255
motion, but the Fifth Circuit denied that request in January
2017. Id. ¶ 10(b). This § 2241 petition followed on May 8, 2017.
Petitioner argues the United States lacked jurisdiction to
prosecute him for possession of child pornography. He asks the
Court to release him from custody and to seal all court records
related to the criminal proceedings.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Petitioner brings this petition as a pro se litigant. The
Court has an obligation to liberally construe pro se pleadings
and to hold them to less stringent standards than more formal
pleadings drafted by lawyers. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89,
94 (2007); Higgs v. Attorney Gen. of the U.S., 655 F.3d 333, 339
The Court takes judicial notice of this public record.
(3d Cir. 2011), as amended (Sept. 19, 2011) (citing Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)).
Nevertheless, a federal district court must dismiss a
habeas corpus petition if it appears from the face of the
petition that the petitioner is not entitled to relief. 28
U.S.C. § 2254 Rule 4 (made applicable 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.
Section 2241 “confers habeas jurisdiction to hear the
petition of a federal prisoner who is challenging not the
validity but the execution of his sentence.” Coady v. Vaughn,
251 F.3d 480, 485 (3d Cir. 2001). Petitioner candidly states he
is challenging the validity of his conviction in this petition.
Petition ¶ 10.
“[Section] 2255 expressly prohibits a district court from
considering a challenge to a prisoner's federal sentence under §
2241 unless the remedy under § 2255 is ‘inadequate or
ineffective to test the legality of his detention.’” Snyder v.
Dix, 588 F. App’x 205, 206 (3d Cir. 2015) (per curiam) (quoting
28 U.S.C. § 2255(e)). See also Okereke v. United States, 307
F.3d 117, 120 (3d Cir. 2002); In re Dorsainvil, 119 F.3d 245,
249 (3d Cir. 1997). “A § 2255 motion is inadequate or
ineffective 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
detention claim.” Cradle v. U.S. ex rel. Miner, 290 F.3d 536,
538 (3d Cir. 2002) (citations omitted).
Petitioner asserts § 2255 is ineffective or inadequate
because the Fifth Circuit “will not grant me a second 2255
Motion. Thus the court refuses to hear my arguments on
jurisdiction and the evidence.” Petition ¶ 10(c). Section 2255
is not ineffective or inadequate “merely because [a] petitioner
is unable to meet the stringent gatekeeping requirements of the
amended § 2255.” Dorsainvil, 119 F.3d at 251. “It is the
inefficacy of the remedy, not the personal inability to use it,
that is determinative.” Cradle, 290 F.3d at 538. Accordingly,
the Court lacks jurisdiction over the petition.2
To the extent Petitioner’s request for “all court records
pertaining to federal case to be sealed” could be construed as a
motion to seal this proceeding, the motion is denied. “There is
a ‘strong presumption’ of public access to judicial records, and
‘[t]he party seeking to seal any part of a judicial record bears
the heavy burden’ of rebutting that presumption.” Millhouse v.
Ebbert, 674 F. App'x 127, 128 (3d Cir. 2017) (quoting Miller v.
Indiana Hosp., 16 F.3d 549, 551 (3d Cir. 1994)) (alteration in
original). Petitioner does not provide any reason to seal this
matter, let alone a reason strong enough to overcome the
presumption of public accessibility.
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. The Court finds that it is not in
the interests of justice to transfer this habeas petition as it
appears the Fifth Circuit has already denied Petitioner
permission to file a second or successive § 2255 motion based on
his jurisdiction arguments. Petition ¶ 10(b). Nothing in this
opinion, however, should be construed as prohibiting Petitioner
from once again seeking the Fifth Circuit's permission to file
on his own should he so choose.
For the above stated reasons, the petition is dismissed for
lack of jurisdiction. An accompanying Order will be entered.
September 13, 2017
s/ Jerome B. Simandle
JEROME B. SIMANDLE
U.S. District Judge
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