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Schulze v. Federal Bureau of Prisons

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

December 20, 2019

MICHAEL F. SCHULZE, Petitioner,
v.
FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS, Respondent.

          ORDER DISMISSING PETITION AND DENYING CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY

          JILL A. OTAKE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Petitioner Michael F. Schulze (“Petitioner”) is incarcerated at the Federal Detention Center (“FDC”) in Honolulu, Hawai‘i. He filed the instant Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, asserting four grounds for relief: (1) Respondent Federal Bureau of Prison's (“BOP”)[1] interpretation of the term “imprisonment” under 18 U.S.C. § 3621(b) violates the Administrative Procedures Act (“APA”), 5 U.S.C. § 706; (2) the BOP violated Petitioner's Fifth Amendment procedural and substantive due process rights by transferring him to a minimum security prison camp to FDC, an administrative security facility, for the sole purpose of increasing its budget; (3) the BOP acted contrary to § 3621(b) and violated his liberty interest by transferring him without ascertaining his preference; and (4) 28 C.F.R. § 542.15(b)(1) violates § 706(2)(A) because it obstructs First Amendment access to the courts. Pet. at 7-8. Petitioner also filed an Emergency Motion for Preliminary Injunction.[2] ECF No. 2. For the reasons articulated below, the Court DISMISSES the Petition for lack of jurisdiction and DENIES a certificate of appealability.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         When a federal or state prisoner contends that he “is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States, ” § 2241 confers a general grant of habeas jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 2241(a) and (c)(3). A district court considering an application for a writ of habeas corpus shall “award the writ or issue an order directing the respondent to show cause why the writ should not be granted, unless it appears from the application that the applicant or person detained is not entitled thereto.” 28 U.S.C. § 2243.

         Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts (“Habeas Rules”), also applicable to § 2241, [3] requires courts to conduct a preliminary review of each petition for writ of habeas corpus. See Rule 4. “If it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief, ” the district court must summarily dismiss the petition. Id. The district court should not dismiss a habeas petition “without leave to amend unless it appears that no tenable claim for relief can be pleaded were such leave granted.” Jarvis v. Nelson, 440 F.2d 13, 14 (9th Cir. 1971).

         DISCUSSION

         “Federal law opens two main avenues to relief on complaints related to imprisonment: a petition for writ of habeas corpus, 28 U.S.C. § 2254, and a complaint under . . . 42 U.S.C. § 1983.” Muhammad v. Close, 540 U.S. 749, 750 (2004) (per curiam). Habeas relief extends to a prisoner in custody under the authority of the United States. See 28 U.S.C. § 2241. A petitioner challenging the manner, location, or conditions of the execution of his sentence must file a petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. See, e.g., United States v. Giddings, 740 F.2d 770, 772 (9th Cir. 1984); Brown v. United States, 610 F.2d 672, 677 (9th Cir. 1990) (distinguishing between a § 2255 petition, which tests the imposed sentence, with a § 2241, which tests the sentence “as it is being executed”). “Challenges to the validity of any confinement or to particulars affecting its duration are the province of habeas corpus.” Muhammad, 540 U.S. at 750 (citation omitted); Nettles v. Grounds, 830 F.3d 922, 934 (9th Cir. 2016) (en banc) (holding that a prisoner's claims are within the core of habeas corpus if they challenge the fact or duration of his conviction or sentence).

         By contrast, claims that challenge conditions of confinement, and which would not necessarily impact the fact or duration of confinement do not fall within “the core of habeas corpus” and must be brought under § 1983. See Nettles, 830 F.3d at 934-35; Muhammad, 540 U.S. at 750 (“[R]equests for relief turning on circumstances of confinement may be presented in a § 1983 action.”). In the federal context, Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), provides a remedy for civil rights violations by federal actors.

         The crux of Petitioner's arguments is that his transfer to FDC violated his Constitutional rights and the APA.

         A. APA

         The APA authorizes judicial review for an individual “suffering legal wrong because of agency action, or adversely affected or aggrieved by agency action within the meaning of a relevant statute, ” 5 U.S.C. § 702, unless “(1) statutes preclude judicial review; or (2) agency action is committed to agency discretion by law.” 5 U.S.C. § 701(a)[4]; see Reeb v. Thomas, 636 F.3d 1224, 1226 (9th Cir. 2011). Section 3621 of Title 18 of the U.S. Code authorizes the BOP to “designate the place of the prisoner's imprisonment.” 18 U.S.C. § 3621(b). Indeed, the BOP “may at any time . . . direct the transfer of a prisoner from one penal or correctional facility to another.” Id. And “[notwithstanding any other provision of law, a designation of a place of imprisonment under [§ 3621(b)] is not reviewable by any court.” Id. (emphasis added).

         Section 3625 of Title 18 of the U.S. Code, titled “Inapplicability of the Administrative Procedures Act, ” plainly “specifies that the judicial review provisions of the APA, 5 U.S.C. §§ 701-706, do not apply to ‘any determination, decision, or order' made pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §§ 3621-3624.” Reeb, 636 F.3d at 1227. As explained above, § 3621(b) vests the BOP with the authority to determine where a prisoner will serve his imprisonment. Allowing prisoners to file habeas petitions under § 2241 to challenge the BOP's discretionary determinations pursuant to § 3621 would contravene § 3625. See Id. Because the BOP's substantive decisions regarding a prisoner's place of imprisonment are not reviewable, “federal courts lack jurisdiction to review the BOP's . . . determinations made pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3621.”[5] Id. at 1227-28. The Court accordingly lacks jurisdiction to review the BOP's decision to transfer Petitioner to FDC. Thus, the Petition is DISMISSED to the extent it seeks judicial review of the BOP's decision to transfer him to FDC.

         B. Constitutional Allegations

         Petitioner also alleges that the BOP violated his Fifth Amendment substantive and procedural due process rights by transferring him to FDC, and that § 542.15(b)(1)[6] violates the APA by interfering with First Amendment access to the courts. However, Petitioner has not explained how the execution of his sentence is violating his civil rights under the Constitution, nor does he challenge the execution, duration, or legality of his sentence. Rather, his allegations concern the conditions of his confinement, which are not cognizable pursuant to § 2241. See Ramirez v. Galaza,334 F.3d 850, 859 (9th Cir. 2003) (“[H]abeas jurisdiction is absent . . . where a successful challenge to a prison condition will not necessarily shorten the prisoner's sentence.”). Even if the Court granted leave to amend the ...


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