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Meyer v. United States Bureau of Prisons

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division

August 29, 2017

JAMES MEYER, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES BUREAU OF PRISONS, et al., Respondents.

          ORDER

          MAX O. COGBURN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on review of Plaintiff's pro se petition seeking habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, (Doc. No. 1).

         Pro se Petitioner James Meyer is a federal inmate at Butner Federal Medical Center in Butner, North Carolina. He alleges that the Bureau of Prisons is wrongfully executing his fifteen-month sentence by purposefully depriving him of prescribed medical care including chemotherapy for diagnosed stage-IV cancer of the spine and a rare type of blood cancer. He seeks “Compassionate Releas[e]” and “house arrest/home confinement” for the remainder of his sentence to preserve his quality of life and prevent permanent irreparable damage, injuries, or death. (Doc. No. 1-1 at 14-16).

         For the following reasons, the Court construes this action as a civil suit pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), and transfers it to the Eastern District of North Carolina where venue is more appropriate.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Petitioner pled guilty to a single count of obstruction of justice in criminal case number 3:16-cr-62-MOC. On August 23, 2016, the Court sentenced him to 15 months' imprisonment followed by two years of supervised release. (Crim. Case No. 3:16-cr-62-MOC-DSC-1, Doc. No. 30). The judgment, which was docketed on October 11, 2016, required Petitioner to self-surrender in accordance with the United States Marshal's instructions. (Id.).

         On November 10, 2016, Petitioner filed a motion to stay his surrender which was scheduled for November 22, 2016, alleging that he was diagnosed shortly after sentencing with bone cancer that required treatment in his home state of California. (Id., Doc. No. 33). On November 18, 2016, the Court held a hearing and granted a 60-day stay during which time Petitioner was required to file updated medical reports through counsel. (Id., Doc. No. 38). Petitioner filed a second motion to stay on January 12, 2017, which the Court heard on January 18, 2017, and granted a second sixty-day stay during which Petitioner filed additional medical information. (Id., Doc. No. 45, 47, 49). The Government opposed further stay because the Bureau of Prisons indicated its ability to treat Petitioner's condition and, if it later determined it was unable to treat him, it could act accordingly. (Id., Doc. No. 50). The Court denied any further stay on March 28, 2017, because the Court had been assured that the Bureau of Prisons can accommodate Petitioner's medical needs at FMC-Butner. (Id., Doc. No. 51).

         On July 18, 2017, Petitioner filed the instant pro se petition seeking habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 along with a memorandum seeking relief under “Rule 60(b), 60(b)(3), 60(b)(6), 60(d)(1) & (3), FRAUD ON THE COURT, and THE ALL WRITS ACT AUXILLIARY JURISDICTIONAL AID OF 28 U.S.C.S. § 1651(a) and (b)” and United States Sentencing Guidelines §§ 5H1.1 and 5H1.4. (Doc. Nos. 1, 1-1). He names as Respondents the United States Bureau of Prisons, the FMC Butner Medical Director, and FMC Butner Complex Warden J.C. Holland. He claims that the Court's March 28, 2017 “oral sentence” relied on untrue “binding obligatory assurance” from the Government that the Bureau of Prisons can adequately treat Petitioner's medical conditions. (Doc. No. 1-1 at 1-2). He alleges that he is not receiving adequate medical treatment for his diagnosed cancers at FMC Butner. In a supplemental memorandum filed on August 3, 2017, he alleges that he had been transferred to Butner's non-medical low security compound, rather than the medical unit, indicating that Butner has no intention of treating him. (Doc. No. 2). In a second supplement filed on August 10, 2017, he provides additional exhibits supporting his petition. (Doc. No. 3). He seeks “Compassionate Releas[e]/Home Confinement” for the remainder of his sentence to preserve his quality of life and prevent permanent irreparable damage, injuries, or death. (Doc. No. 1-1 at 14-16).

         II. DISCUSSION

         Petitioner's claims have been liberally construed, Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972), so as to give effect to their substance rather than their form. See generally Castro v. United States, 540 U.S. 375, 381 (2003) (“Federal courts sometimes will ignore the legal label that a pro se litigant attaches to a motion and recharacterize the motion in order to place it within a different legal category.”) Each of the grounds of relief that Petitioner appears to raise will be addressed in turn.

         A. Habeas Corpus

         Petitioner has entitled the instant action as one seeking habeas corpus relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 in which he purports to attack the execution of the “oral sentence” that the Court imposed on March 28, 2017. (Doc. No. 1-1 at 1).

         An inmate may bring a petition for writ of habeas corpus under § 2241 where he alleges he is “in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2241(a)(3). Examples of challenges to the execution of a federal sentence are the administration of parole or sentence computation by prison officials. See, e.g., United States v. Little, 392 F.3d 671, 679 (4th Cir. 2004). By contrast, a civil rights action is the proper method to challenge “the conditions of [a prisoner's] prison life, but not [] the fact or length of his custody.” Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 499 (1973); see Braddy v. Wilson, 580 Fed.Appx. 172 (4th Cir. 2014). Further, “a [Section] 2241 habeas petition can only be filed in the district in which a prisoner is confined.” United States v. Poole, 531 F.3d 263, 264 (4th Cir. 2008).

         Petitioner's claim is premised on a faulty factual foundation insofar as the March 28, 2017, Order is not a “sentence.” The March 28 Order denied Petitioner's continued motion to stay his surrender to the Bureau of Prisons, whereas his sentence was orally imposed on August 23, 2016, and was docketed on October 11, 2016. Petitioner fails to allege anything about the sentence itself that is being incorrectly implemented by the Bureau of Prisons. Moreover, even if Petitioner had raised a cognizable § 2241 claim, this Court is not the correct venue in which to raise it. Petitioner is incarcerated at FMC Butner which is located in Granville County in the Eastern ...


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