Robles-Hernandez v. Williams
Memorandum Opinion and Order: the Petition is denied and this action is dismissed pursuant to Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Habeas Corpus Cases without prejudice to re-filing upon full exhaustion of administrative remedies. I further certify, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3), that an appeal from this decision could not be taken in good faith. Judge Jeffrey J. Helmick on 10/20/2020. (S,AL)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO
Case No. 4:20-cv-1430
Mark K. Williams,
Pro se Petitioner Jose Robles-Hernandez, a federal inmate incarcerated at Federal
Correctional Institution Elkton (“Elkton”), has filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus Under 28
U.S.C. § 2241. (Doc. No. 1.) He seeks release from Elkton to home confinement on the basis of
the COVID-19 virus. (See id. at 8; Doc. 1-16 at 2.)
Petitioner does not represent that he has exhausted his administrative remedies with the
Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) with respect to a claim for release to home confinement. He
acknowledges he has not fully exhausted his remedies with the BOP, contending exhaustion would
be futile. (See Doc. No. 1 at 3, ¶ 7(b); Doc. 1-16 at 2.)
Standard of Review and Discussion
Federal district courts must conduct an initial review of habeas corpus petitions. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 2243; Alexander v. Northern Bureau of Prisons, 419 F. App'x 544, 545 (6th Cir. 2011). A court must
deny a petition "if it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is
not entitled to relief" in the district court. Rule 4 of the Rules Governing § 2254 Cases in the
United States District Courts (applicable to § 2241 petitions pursuant to Rule 1(b)).
Upon review, I find I must dismiss the Petition without prejudice.
Before a prisoner may seek habeas corpus relief under § 2241, he must exhaust his
administrative remedies within the BOP. Settle v. Bureau of Prisons, No. 16-5279, 2017 WL 8159227,
at *2 (6th Cir. Sept. 20, 2017). Where “it is apparent on the face of a § 2241 petition that the
petitioner has not exhausted his administrative remedies, a district court may sua sponte dismiss the
petition without prejudice.” Id.
Exhaustion of administrative remedies serves two main purposes: 1) it “protects
administrative agency authority,” by ensuring that an agency has an opportunity to review and revise
its actions before litigation is commenced, which preserves both judicial resources and
administrative autonomy; and 2) it promotes efficiency because “[c]laims generally can be resolved
much more quickly and economically in proceedings before an agency than in litigation in federal
court.” Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 89 (2006) (citing McCarthy v. Madigan, 503 U.S. 140, 145
(1992)). In addition, exhaustion of available administrative procedures also ensures that the Court
has an adequate record before it to review the agency action in question. Woodford, 548 U.S. at 89.
See also Detroit Newspaper Agency v. N.L.R.B., 286 F.3d 391, 396 (6th Cir. 2002) (“The purpose of the
exhaustion doctrine is to allow an administrative agency to perform functions within its special
competence, to make a factual record, to apply its expertise and to correct its own errors so as to
moot judicial controversies.”) (quoting Shawnee Coal Co. v. Andrus, 661 F.2d 1083, 1092 (6th Cir.
1981) (other citations omitted)).
I agree with the other courts in this district that have held it is necessary for federal prisoners
to demonstrate they have exhausted their administrative remedies with the BOP before seeking
relief due to COVID-19 circumstances, regardless of the statutory basis for their claim. See, e.g.,
Cottom v. Williams, No. 4: 20 CV 574, 2020 WL 2933574 (N.D. Ohio June 3, 2020); Bronson v.
Carvaljal, Case No. 4: 20-cv-914, 2020 WL 2104542 (N.D. Ohio May 1, 2020). As Judge Lioi
reasoned in Bronson, the BOP has procedures in place and is in the best position in the first instance
to determine which federal prisoners are suitable for home confinement based on COVID-19 risk
factors. See id. at **2-3.
Accordingly, in that the Petition on its face demonstrates that Petitioner has not exhausted
his administrative remedies with the BOP respect to a claim for release to home confinement on the
basis of COVID-19 circumstances, the Petition is denied and this action is dismissed pursuant to
Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Habeas Corpus Cases without prejudice to re-filing upon full
exhaustion of administrative remedies. I further certify, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3), that an
appeal from this decision could not be taken in good faith.
s/ Jeffrey J. Helmick
United States District Judge
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