SCOTT v. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
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. 17-4654 (JBS)
Joseph Scott, Petitioner pro se
Federal Correctional Institution
PO Box 420
Fairton, NJ 08320
SIMANDLE, District Judge:
Joseph Scott, a federal prisoner confined at FCI Fairton,
New Jersey, has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Petition, Docket Entry 1. For the
reasons expressed below, the petition is dismissed for lack of
Petitioner was sentenced in the United States District
Court for the District of Delaware in 2000 after a jury
convicted him of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute
and conspiracy to distribute cocaine, 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(c),
846. Petition at 3. The sentencing court determined Petitioner
met the definition of a career offender under the Guidelines due
to two Delaware state convictions and sentenced him to a 360month period of incarceration followed by a five-year period of
supervised release. Id. at 2-3. The Court of Appeals for the
Third Circuit affirmed the convictions but vacated the term of
supervised release in light of Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S.
466 (2000). Id. at 4 (citing United States v. Scott, 259 F.3d
717 (3d Cir. 2001) (Table)). The sentencing court resentenced
Petitioner to 360-months incarceration followed by three years
of supervised release. Id.
Petitioner filed this § 2241 petition on June 23, 2017. He
argues he cannot be considered a career offender due to the
Supreme Court’s decision in Mathis v. United States, 136 S. Ct.
2243 (2016) (holding a prior conviction does not qualify as the
generic form of a predicate violent felony offense listed in the
Armed Career Criminal Act (“ACCA”) if an element of the crime of
conviction is broader than an element of the generic offense).
He asks the Court to resentence him without the career offender
III. 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
(3d Cir. 2011), as amended (Sept. 19, 2011) (citing Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)). A pro se habeas petition and
any supporting submissions must be construed liberally and with
a measure of tolerance. See Royce v. Hahn, 151 F.3d 116, 118 (3d
Cir. 1998); Lewis v. Attorney Gen., 878 F.2d 714, 721–22 (3d
Cir. 1989); United States v. Brierley, 414 F.2d 552, 555 (3d
Cir. 1969), cert. denied, 399 U.S. 912 (1970).
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). 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)). “[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)
(quoting 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e)); see also In re Dorsainvil, 119
F.3d 245, 249 (3d Cir. 1997).
Petitioner does not argue that he is innocent of the
offenses for which he was convicted. Instead, he asserts the
career offender sentencing enhancement no longer applies to his
sentence due to an intervening change in law. “[B]ecause he is
challenging his career offender designation and is not claiming
that he is now innocent of the predicate offense, he does not
fall within the ‘safety valve’ exception created in In re
Dorsainvil and cannot proceed under § 2241.” Scott v. Shartle,
574 F. App'x 152, 155 (3d Cir. 2014). See also United States v.
Brown, 456 F. Appx. 79, 81 (3d Cir. 2012) (per curiam) (holding
prisoner not entitled to proceed under § 2255's “safety valve”
when 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). The Court
therefore lacks jurisdiction over the petition under § 2241.
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. As Petitioner has already filed a
motion under § 2255, he must seek permission from the United
States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in order to bring
a second or successive petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2255(h). 28
U.S.C. § 2244. The Court finds that it is not in the interests
of justice to transfer this habeas petition to the Third Circuit
as Petitioner already has a § 2244(b) motion pending in that
court. In re Joseph Scott, No. 16-1947 (3d Cir. stayed May 4,
2017). Nothing in this opinion, however, should be construed as
expressing any view of the merits of the § 2244(b) motion
presently pending in the Court of Appeals.
For the reasons stated above, 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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