JONES v. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
OPINION. Signed by Chief Judge Jose L. Linares on 10/25/2017. (ld, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
Civil Action No. 17-6463 (JLL)
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
LINARES, Chief District Judge:
Presently before the Court is Petitioner Quawee Jones’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus
brought pursuant to 2$ U.S.C.
in which he seeks to challenge his ongoing criminal
prosecution. (ECF No. 1). As Petitioner has now paid the requisite filing fee, this Court is required
pursuant to Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases, applicable to
§ 2241 through Rule
1(b), to screen the petition 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,
Petitioner’s habeas petition will be dismissed.
Petitioner, Quawee Jones, is a federal pre-trial detainee currently confined in the Essex
County Correctional Facility. Petitioner has been detained awaiting trial since November 2015.
(Docket No. 16-18 1 ECF Docket Sheet). On Jtine 28, 2016, Petitioner and his co-defendants were
charged by way of a superseding indictment with conspiracy to distribtite and possess with the
intent to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin in violation of 21 U.S.C.
841(b)(1)(A), and 846. (Docket No. 16-181 at ECF No. 12$). Petitioner’s criminal prosecution
remains ongoing, and Petitioner is currently in the process of litigating several pre-trial motions in
his criminal case. (See Docket No. 16-181 at ECf Nos. 212-13, 257, 259, 262). On August 18,
2017, Petitioner filed his current habeas petition. (ECF No. 1). Petitioner seeks to use his habeas
petition to challenge this Court’s criminal jurisdiction over him. (ECF No. 1 at 6-7). Petitioner
does not explain in his petition why he believes the Court lacks personal jurisdiction over him, and
provides no factual support for his assertions to that effect.
A. Legal Standard
Under 2$ 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.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 224 1(c)(3); Maleng v. Cook, 490 U.S. 48$, 490 (1989). Pursuant to Rule 4
of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases, applicable to Section 2241 petitions through Rule
1(b), this Court is required to preliminarily review Petitioner’s habeas petition and determine
whether it “plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not
entitled to relief.” Pursuant to the nile, a district court is “authorized to dismiss summarily any
habeas petition that appears legally insufficient on its face.” Mcfarland v. Scott, 512 U.S. $49,
Petitioner seeks to challenge the Court’s jurisdiction over him in his currently ongoing
criminal prosecution. As the Third Circuit has explained, “[w]here a defendant is awaiting trial,
the appropriate vehicle for [addressing] violations of his
ights are pretrial motions or the
expedited appeal procedure provides by the Bail Reform Act.. and not a habeas corpus petition.”
Whitmer v. Levi, 276 F. App’x 217, 2 18-19 (3d Cir. 200$); see also Johnson v. United States, 265
F. App’x 79, $0 (3d Cir. 2008). Because “[a]dequate remedies [are] available in [a petitioner’s]
[a criminal defendant awaiting trial is] not entitled to habeas corpus relief.”
Whitmer. 276 F. App’x at 219. Where a petitioner’s criminal motions are denied, a criminal
defendant may not properly seek habeas relief until afier his trial and direct appeal. Johnson, 265
F. App’x at 80.
Even once his direct appeal has concluded, the proper habeas mechanism through
which a petitioner may challenge his federal conviction or sentence is a motion to vacate sentence
brought pursuant to 2$ U.S.C.
§ 2255, not a § 2241
petition. Id.; see also Okereke v. United States,
307 F.3d 117, 120 (3d Cir. 2002) (a motion filed pursuant to
§ 2255 is the presumptive means for
challenging a federal conviction). Thus, where a pre-trial criminal detainee seeks to challenge his
pending prosecution through a
§ 2241 habeas petition, the colTect course of action is for the Court
to dismiss the petition. Whitmer, 276 F. App’x at 219; Johnson, 265 F. App’x at 80. Because
Petitioner is a pre-trial criminal detainee, and because Petitioner could easily raise his jurisdictional
challenge via a motion, filed through counsel, in his criminal proceedings, see Fed. R. Crim. P.
1 2(b)(2) (a motion challenging jurisdiction may be “made at any time while the case is pending”),
such a motion is the colTect means for raising his current challenge, and his current habeas petition
is therefore improper and must be dismissed. Whitmer, 276 F. App’x at 219; Johnson, 265 F.
App’x at $0.
For the reasons stated above. Petitioner’s habeas petition is dismissed. An appropriate
Chief Judge, United States District Court
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