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Woodward v. United States

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

December 28, 2017

EDWIN DAVIS WOODWARD Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES, Respondent.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          SHONT. ERWIN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Petitioner Edwin Woodward, appearing pro se, seeks a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. (ECF No. 5). United States District Judge Timothy DeGiusti referred this matter to the undersigned magistrate judge for initial proceedings consistent with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B)-(C). Upon initial review, the Court should DISMISS the petition, without prejudice.

         I. SCREENING REQUIREMENT

         The Court is required to review habeas petitions promptly and to “summarily dismiss [a] petition without ordering a responsive pleading, ” Mayle v. Felix, 545 U.S. 644, 656 (2005), “[i]f it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court.” See R. 4, R. Governing § 2254 Cases in U.S. Dist. Ct.[1]

         II. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On November 30, 2017, Mr. Woodward filed a pleading titled: “Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law Under U.S. § 2241.” (ECF No. 1). The document contained elements of claims which could have been brought under 28 U.S.C. § 2241, 28 U.S.C. § 2254, and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See ECF No. 1:2-6. Mr. Woodward named a single respondent, the United States of America, and as forms of relief, Mr. Woodward requested: (1) immediate release, (2) a sentence modification, (3) a discharge date, or (4) re-sentencing under the Truth in Sentencing Act. (ECF No. 1:5-6).

         Based upon the type of relief Mr. Woodward sought, the undersigned construed the pleading as a request seeking a writ of habeas corpus[2] and ordered Petitioner to either pay the $5.00 filing fee or submit a motion for leave to file an application to proceed in forma pauperis. (ECF No. 4). In addition, the undersigned instructed Mr. Woodward that he had failed to name a proper respondent and that the petition was not on the proper form. (ECF No. 4:2). Accordingly, the Court Clerk sent Mr. Woodward the proper habeas form and instructed him to cure the deficiencies no later than December 26, 2017. (ECF No. 4:2). In response, Petitioner submitted a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 and paid the $5.00 filing fee. (ECF Nos. 5 & 6).

         III. DISMISSAL OF THE PETITION

         In the current petition, Mr. Woodward states that he is challenging “[t]he validity of [his] conviction or sentence as imposed” and as grounds for relief, he alleges: (1) a violation of his right to access the courts through a denial of access to a law library and (2) inhumane conditions of confinement. (ECF No. 5:2, 3, 8). As relief, Mr. Woodward requests: (1) immediate release, (2) a sentence modification, (3) a discharge date, or (4) re-sentencing under the Truth in Sentencing Act. (ECF No. 5:9).

         Traditionally, a petition under § 2254 challenges the validity of the petitioner's conviction and sentence, whereas a § 2241 petition attacks the execution of his sentence. Montez v. McKinna, 208 F.3d 862, 865 (10th Cir. 2000). In his initial pleading, Mr. Woodward presented allegations which would have been proper under either § 2254 or § 2241. See supra. But in the instant petition, the only information Petitioner provides regarding his sentence is: (1) he is currently serving a state court sentence that was imposed “4/93” and (2) that sentence was modified to “life with parole possibility” on “2/12.” (ECF No. 5:1-2). Although Petitioner provided very little information, the Court should construe the petition as having been properly brought under § 2241 since Petitioner is “seeking changes to the administration of his sentence.” See Gonzalez v. Jones, No. 12-CV-0006-CVE-TLW, 2012 WL 314309, at *1 (N.D. Okla. Feb. 1, 2012) (citing Montez, at 864-65). That being the case, however, the Court should dismiss the petition because Petitioner's factual allegations-which challenge the conditions of his confinement-do not give rise to claims under § 2241. See McIntosh v. United States Parole Comm'n, 115 F.3d 809, 811-12 (10th Cir. 1997) (distinguishing between § 2241 actions and conditions of confinement suits); Gonzalez, at *1-2 (dismissing § 2241 petition which alleged unconstitutional conditions of confinement and deliberate indifference for failure to state a claim for relief).

         Mr. Woodward is advised that while he may bring his claims concerning the conditions of his confinement in a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 complaint, the relief sought in this action-release from custody, and/or sentence modification-is not available in a § 1983 action. See Barnes v. Owens, No. CIV-06-1094-W, 2006 WL 3311512, at *2 (W.D. Okla. Nov. 14, 2006) (noting that sentence modification is not an available remedy under 42 U.S.C. § 1983); Gonzalez, at *1 (stating that “release from custody, is not available in a § 1983 action”). Because Petitioner has failed to state a claim under 28 U.S.C. § 2241, the Court should dismiss the petition (ECF No. 5) without prejudice.

         IV. RECOMMENDATION AND NOTICE OF RIGHT TO OBJECT

         The Court should DISMISS the habeas petition (ECF No. 5) for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

         Petitioner is hereby advised of his right to object to this Report and Recommendation. See 28 U.S.C. § 636. Any objection must be filed with the Clerk of the District Court by January 16, 2018.See 28 U.S.C. ยง 636(b)(1); and Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2). Failure to make timely objection to this Report and Recommendation waives the right to appellate review of both ...


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