ROBINSON v. ORTIZ
OPINION. Signed by Judge Noel L. Hillman on 6/7/2021. (dmr)(n.m.)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
Civ. No. 20-10236 (NLH)
Fort Dix FCI
P.O. Box 2000
Joint Base MDL, NJ 08640
Petitioner Pro se
HILLMAN, District Judge
Petitioner Kenneth Robinson, a prisoner presently confined
at FCI Fort Dix, New Jersey, filed this petition for writ of
habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 challenging his conviction.
ECF No. 1.
For the reasons that follow, the Court will dismiss
the petition for lack of jurisdiction.
Petitioner was convicted by a jury in the District of
Maryland of possession with intent to distribute cocaine base,
21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a), 2.
United States v. Robinson, No. 1:11-cr-
0521 (D. Md. May 23, 2013) (ECF No. 79). 1
The court sentenced
Petitioner to a total of 240 months’ imprisonment.
United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed
his convictions and sentence.
United States v. Robinson, 580 F.
App’x 239 (4th Cir. 2014) (per curiam).
Petitioner subsequently filed a motion to correct, vacate,
or set aside his federal sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255.
Robinson, No. 1:11-cr-0521 (D. Md. Sept. 19, 2014) (ECF No. 98).
The district court initially denied the petition, id. (Sept. 14,
2015) (ECF No. 105), but later vacated that order and granted
the motion based on ineffective assistance of counsel, id. (Aug.
5, 2016) (ECF No. 116).
The United States appealed, and the
Fourth Circuit reversed the district court and remanded with
instructions to deny the § 2255 motion.
United States v.
Robinson, 700 F. App’x 178 (4th Cir. 2017) (per curiam).
This petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. §
ECF No. 1.
STANDARD OF REVEIEW
Title 28, Section 2243 of the United States Code 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
The Court takes judicial notice of the public filings in
Petitioner’s criminal case.
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
A pro se habeas petition must be construed liberally.
See Hunterson v. DiSabato, 308 F.3d 236, 243 (3d Cir. 2002).
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.”
251 F.3d 480, 485 (3d Cir. 2001).
Coady v. Vaughn,
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
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 asserts he is actually innocent of the § 841
conviction due to a “lack of territory jurisdiction over the
location of where the offense occurred.”
ECF No. 1 at 6.
indictment charged: that on or about July 1, 2011 in the state
and district of Maryland the defendant knowingly and
intentionally possess [sic] a detectable amount of drug which by
the clear wording of the indictment is a legal impossibility.
One can not stand in the district and the state at the exact
same moment of time.”
He asserts the trial court “lack[ed]
jurisdiction to have punished the defendant . . . on the grounds
it was stated the criminal conduct was committed in the State of
The count of the indictment clearly state’s [sic] the
offense of possession was committed in the State, a place where
federal powers are limited and must contain a nexus to commerce
. . . .”
Both claims challenge the integrity of the indictment.
Section 2255 contains an explicit provision that permits “[a]
prisoner in custody under sentence of a court established by Act
of Congress claiming . . . that the court was without
jurisdiction to impose such sentence” to file a motion to
vacate, set aside, or correct the sentence in the sentencing
28 U.S.C. § 2255(a).
Since the plain text of the
statute permits a prisoner to challenge the jurisdiction of the
trial court via § 2255, § 2255 is not ineffective or inadequate
such that this Court would have jurisdiction under § 2241.
Petitioner could have challenged the validity of the indictment
either on direct appeal or in his § 2255 motion as there is no
indication that an intervening Supreme Court case redefined the
elements of the offenses such that Petitioner’s actions no
longer qualify as illegal.
Accordingly, the Court 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
28 U.S.C. § 1631.
As Petitioner has already filed
a motion under § 2255, he may only file a second or successive
motion with the permission of the Fourth Circuit.
28 U.S.C. §§
The Court finds that it is not in the interests
of justice to transfer this habeas petition to the Fourth
Circuit it does not appear that Petitioner can meet the
requirements of § 2255(h) for filing a second or successive §
Nothing in this opinion, however, should be
construed as prohibiting Petitioner from seeking the Fourth
Circuit’s permission to file on his own should he so choose.
For the foregoing reasons, the petition will be dismissed
for lack of jurisdiction.
An appropriate order will be entered.
Dated: June 7, 2021
At Camden, New Jersey
s/ Noel L. Hillman
NOEL L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.
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?