TEJADA v. RODRIGUEZ
OPINION. Signed by Judge Jose L. Linares on 10/3/16. (cm,)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
VICTOR MANUEL PUELLO TEJADA,
Civil Action No. l65967 (JLL)
LINARES, District Judge:
Currently before the Court is the petition for a writ of habeas corpus of Petitioner, Victor
Manuel Puello Tejada, pursuant to 2$ U.S.C.
2241. (ECF No. 1). At this time, this Court is
required to screen the petition pursuant to Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases,
2241 petitions through Rule 1(b), and determine whether “it plainly appears from
the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief.” For the reasons
set forth below, this Court will dismiss the petition without prejudice as premature.
Petitioner, Victor Manuel Puello Tejada, is a native and citizen of the Dominican
Republic who entered this country in December 1995 and has remained here as a lawful
permanent resident since that time. (ECF No. 1 at 5). Following a conviction for possession
with intent to distribute cocaine in New Jersey, Petitioner was taken into immigration custody on
May 4, 2016, and placed into removal proceedings. (Id. at 7, 14; see ECF No. 1-1 at 2).
Petitioner has remained in custody since that date, and does not appear to be subject to a final
order of removal at this time. (Id.). As of the date of this Opinion, Petitioner has thus been held
without a bond hearing for approximately five months.
A. Legal Standard
Under 2$ U.S.C.
§ 224 1(c), habeas relief may be extended to a prisoner only when he “is
in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.” 2$ U.S.C.
2241(c)(3). A federal court has jurisdiction over such a petition if the petitioner is “in custody”
and the custody is allegedly “in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United
States.” 2$ U.S.C.
§ 2241(c)(3); Maleng v. Cook, 490 U.S. 488, 490 (1989). As Petitioner is
currently detained within this Court’s jurisdiction, by a custodian within the Court’s jurisdiction.
and asserts that his continued detention violates due process, this Court has jurisdiction over his
claims. Spencer v. Kemna, 523 U.S. 1,7 (1998); Brciden v. 30th Judicial Circuit Court, 410 U.S.
484, 494-95, 500 (1973); see also Zadvydas v. Davis, 533 U.S. 678, 699 (2001). Pursuant to
Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases, applicable to Section 2241 petitions through
Rule 1(b), the courts are required to preliminarily review habeas petitions and determine whether
“it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to
relief.” Pursuant to this rule, a district court is “authorized to dismiss summarily any habeas
petition that appears legally insufficient on its face.” McFarlandv. Scott, 512 U.S. $49, $56
In his petition, Petitioner essentially presents one claim: that he has been detained for
longer than a reasonable period of time without a bond hearing under $ U.S.C.
§ 1226(c) in
violation of Diop v. ICE/Homeland Sec., 656 F.3d 221, 231-35 (3d Cir. 2011), and Chavez-
Alvarez v. Warden York County Prison, 783 F.3d 469 (3d Cir. 2015). In Diop, the Third Circuit
held that § 1226(c) •‘authorizes detention for a reasonable amount of time, after which the
authorities n-lust make an individualized inquiry into whether detention is still necessary to fulfill
the statute’s purposes.” Diop, 656 f.3d at 231. Determining whether a given period of detention
is reasonable under the circumstances is a fact-specific inquiry “requiring an assessment of all of
the circumstances of any given case.” Id. at 234. In the
1226(c) context, reasonableness “is a
function of whether [the period of detention] is necessary to fulfill the purpose of the statute.”
While Diop provided limited guidance on the exact period of time necessary for a
detainee’s detention to become unreasonable, the Third Circuit clarified its position on that issue
in Chavez-Alvarez, 783 f.3d at 478. In Chavez-Alvarez, the Third Circuit held that “beginning
sometime after the six-month tirnefrarne considered by [Deinore
Kim, 538 U.S. 510, 530
(2003)], and certainly by the time [the petitioner] had been detained for one year, the burdens to
[the petitioner’s] liberties outweighed any justification for using presumptions to detain him
without bond to further the goals of the statute.” Id. Thus, while the Third Circuit has not
provided a bright line rule as to when a period of detention becomes unreasonable under any and
all circumstances, see id. at 474 n. 7, it is clear that this does not occur until after an alien has
been detained for at least six months. Id. at 478.
Here. Petitioner was first detained on May 4, 2016. (ECF No. 1 at 7). Afthouh
Petitioner has apparently remained in detention since that date, he has, as of the date of this
opinion, been held for approximately five months. As such, Petitioner’s detention has yet to
exceed the six month period discussed in Demoi-e, and his detention has therefore yet to reach a
length of time which would bring its validity into question under Diop and Chavez-Alvarez. See
Chavez-Alvarez, 783 f.3d at 478 (detention does not become
questionable until sometime after
the six months discussed in Dernore). As Petitioner has not yet
been held for six months, his
current petition is premature, and must be dismissed without
prejudice at this time.
For the reasons stated above, Petitioners petition for a writ of habeas
corpus (ECF No. 1)
is dismissed without prejudice to the filing of a subsequent petitio
n in the event that the length of
Petitioner’s detention becomes unreasonable. An appropriate order
States District Judge
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