Rauso v. Warden of FCI-Schuylkill et al
MEMORANDUM (Order to follow as separate docket entry) re: 1 Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, filed by Gennaro Rauso. (See memo for complete details.) Signed by Chief Judge Christopher C. Conner on 5/22/17. (ki)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
WARDEN OF FCI-SCHUYLKILL,
CLERK OF COURTS FOR THE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT
COURT FOR THE EASTERN
DISTRICT OF PA,
CIVIL NO. 1:17-CV-720
(Chief Judge Conner)
Presently before the court is a petition for writ of habeas corpus (Doc. 1)
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 filed by petitioner Gennaro Rauso (“Rauso”), a federal
inmate incarcerated at the Schuylkill Federal Correctional Institution, Minersville,
Pennsylvania. Named as respondents are the Warden of FCI-Schuylkill and the
Clerk of Court for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of
Pennsylvania. Rauso seeks, inter alia, an order compelling the Clerk of the Eastern
District of Pennsylvania to file any motions and papers he submits in his Eastern
District criminal case. (Doc. 1, at 26-29).
Preliminary review of the petition has been undertaken, see R. GOVERNING
§ 2254 CASES R.4,1 and, for the reasons set forth below, the petition will be
Rauso recently filed a similar petition in the United States Court of Appeals
for the Third Circuit. The Third Circuit denied Rauso‟s petition and found as
Gennaro Rauso, a federal prisoner proceeding pro se, petitions
for a writ of mandamus and/or prohibition vacating several orders of
the United States District Court for the Eastern District of
Pennsylvania and compelling the Clerk of that Court to file certain
motions. For the reasons that follow, we will deny the petition.
In 2010, Rauso pleaded guilty to equity skimming in violation
of 12 U.S.C. § 1709-2, mail fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1341, access
device fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1029, bank fraud in violation
of 18 U.S.C. § 1344, and other crimes. He was sentenced to 160
months‟ imprisonment. We affirmed on direct appeal. We ruled that
the appellate waiver in Rauso‟s plea agreement was enforceable and
precluded the arguments he had raised. United States v. Rauso, 548
Fed. Appx. 36, 39 (3d Cir. 2013) (non-precedential).
Rauso filed a motion in District Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255 to vacate his sentence. Rauso filed an amended motion and, in
an order entered July 30, 2014, the District Court granted the
Government‟s motion to dismiss the amended motion. The District
Court decided that Rauso had waived his right to present a collateral
challenge to his conviction and sentence under his plea agreement.
Rauso then filed various motions, including a motion pursuant
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) to alter, amend, or vacate the
order of dismissal, and a motion for leave to supplement his amended
Rule 4 provides “[i]f it plainly appears from the petition and any attached
exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court, the judge
must dismiss the petition and direct the clerk to notify the petitioner.” See R.
GOVERNING § 2254 CASES R.4. These rules are applicable to petitions under 28
U.S.C. § 2241 in the discretion of the court. Id. at R.1(b).
§ 2255 motion. In an order entered November 19, 2014, the District
Court denied Rauso‟s Rule 59(e) motion and motion to supplement his
amended § 2255 motion. The District Court also ordered Rauso to
terminate filing papers in the Court.
Rauso appealed the July 30, 2014 and November 19, 2014 orders.
On March 3, 2015, we denied Rauso‟s motion for a certificate of
appealability. We ruled that jurists of reason would not debate the
District Court‟s conclusion that Rauso‟s claims are barred by the
waiver in his plea agreement, and that, in light of this conclusion,
jurists of reason would agree that the District Court did not err in
denying Rauso‟s motion to amend his § 2255 motion and his Rule
59(e) motion. We also stated that we interpreted the District Court‟s
filing injunction as limited to the § 2255 proceedings, which would end
upon the conclusion of Rauso‟s attempt to appeal. See C.A. No. 144729, 3/3/15 Order.
On September 14, 2016, the District Court issued an order
denying requests by Rauso to file certain papers. The District Court
stated that it had ordered Rauso to terminate filing papers and that it
would return his documents to him. Although the order does not
specify the documents that the Court would return, it appears that on
September 5, 2016, Rauso submitted for filing a motion seeking, among
other things, to compel the Clerk to enter on the docket motions he
had submitted for filing on June 19, 2015 and May 4, 2016, and a
motion to produce him for a hearing. Rauso now seeks a writ of
mandamus vacating the District Court‟s July 30, 2014, November 19,
2014, and September 14, 2016 orders and compelling the District Court
Clerk to file his motions.
The writ of mandamus traditionally has been used “to confine
an inferior court to a lawful exercise of its prescribed jurisdiction or to
compel it to exercise its authority when it is its duty to do so.” In re
Patenaude, 210 F.3d 135, 140 (3d Cir. 2000) (internal quotation and
citations omitted). “The writ is a drastic remedy that is seldom issued
and its use is discouraged.” Id. A petitioner must show that he has no
other adequate means to attain the desired relief and that the right to a
writ is clear and indisputable. Id. at 141. See also In re School
Asbestos Litig., 921 F.2d 1310, 1313-14 (3d Cir. 1990) (applying the same
standard to a petition for writ of prohibition). It is within our
discretion to refrain from issuing the writ even where these
requirements are satisfied. In re Chambers Dev. Co., Inc., 148 F.3d
214, 223 (3d Cir. 1998).
To the extent Rauso seeks a writ vacating the District Court‟s
July 30, 2014 and November 19, 2014 orders, Rauso had an adequate
means to attain this relief in his appeal of these orders. Rauso
contends that the District Court‟s orders are void on various grounds,
all of which could have been or were raised in his prior request for a
certificate of appealability.
Rauso also has not shown that he did not have an adequate
means to challenge the District Court‟s September 14, 2016 order by
filing an appeal. Rauso seeks a writ vacating this order and compelling
the District Court to file the motions he submitted on June 19, 2015,
May 4, 2016, and September 5, 2016, but to the extent an appeal was
available, mandamus may not be used as a substitute for
appeal. See In re Chambers Dev., 148 F.3d at 226. It is unnecessary to
address the applicability of the filing injunction to the documents
Rauso sought to file or might seek to file because, even if inapplicable,
we would decline to grant the extraordinary remedy of a writ of
mandamus in our discretion. The documents that Rauso has sought to
file have been attempts to re-litigate his amended § 2255 motion.
Accordingly, the petition for a writ of mandamus and/or
prohibition will be denied.
In re: Gennaro Rauso, 2017 WL 624159 (3d Cir. 2017) (footnotes omitted).
Rauso filed the instant petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. (Doc. 1). He
similarly requests that this court order the Eastern District Court to accept “any
motions and papers, etc.” for filing in his criminal case. (Id. at 28). Rauso also
claims that the Eastern District court is violating his constitutional rights by
interfering with his ability to access the courts. (Id.)
A habeas petition may be brought by a prisoner who seeks to challenge either
the fact or duration of his confinement. Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 45, 494
(1973); Tedford v. Hepting, 990 F.2d 745, 748 (3d Cir. 1993). “Habeas relief is clearly
quite limited: „The underlying purpose of proceedings under the „Great Writ‟ of
habeas corpus has traditionally been to „inquire into the legality of the detention,
and the only judicial relief authorized was the discharge of the prisoner or his
admission to bail, and that only if his detention were found to be unlawful.‟”
Leamer v. Fauver, 288 F.3d 532, 540 (3d Cir. 2002) (quoting Powers of Congress and
the Court Regarding the Availability and Scope of Review, 114 Harv.L.Rev. 1551, 1553
(2001)). However, when seeking to impose liability due to the deprivation of any
rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, the
appropriate remedy is a civil rights action. See Leamer, 288 F.3d at 540. “Habeas
corpus is not an appropriate or available federal remedy.” See Linnen v. Armainis,
991 F.2d 1102, 1109 (3d Cir. 1993).
Careful review of the petition reveals that Rauso is not challenging the
legality of his present incarceration. Rather, he seeks an order “commanding” the
Clerk of Court of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to file any motions and
papers he submits in the case of United States v. Rauso, No. 10-cr-406 (E.D. Pa.).
(Doc. 1, at 29). Rauso asserts that he attempted to file papers in his Eastern District
case, however the documents were not docketed and, instead, were returned to
him. (Id.) Additionally, Rauso claims that his ability to access the courts is being
obstructed by the Clerk of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, in violation of his
First Amendment rights. (Id. at 28). The claims asserted in Rauso‟s § 2241 petition
are not cognizable in a habeas corpus action. See Wilkinson v. Dotson, 544 U.S. 74,
81 (2005) (habeas relief is available only when prisoners “seek to invalidate the
duration of their confinement - either directly through an injunction compelling
speedier release or indirectly through a judicial determination that necessarily
implies the unlawfulness of the [government‟s] custody”). Moreover, the court lacks
any authority to order the Eastern District Court to act in a certain way, including
allowing Rauso to file motions in a pending Eastern District case. Consequently,
the petition is subject to dismissal.2
Based on the foregoing, the petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2241 will be dismissed.
An appropriate order shall issue.
/S/ CHRISTOPHER C. CONNER
Christopher C. Conner, Chief Judge
United States District Court
Middle District of Pennsylvania
May 22, 2017
The court expresses no opinion as to the merits, if any, of any civil rights
claim Rauso may file based upon the facts asserted herein.
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