United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Newnan Division
December 2, 2014
JAMES W. SANDS, GDC #1229749, Petitioner,
JASON MEDLIN, Warden, and BRIAN OWENS, in his official capacity as the Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Corrections, Respondents
James W. Sands, Petitioner, Pro se, Alamo, GA.
For Jason Medlin, Warden, Respondent: Clint Christopher Malcolm, Georgia Department of Law, Atlanta, GA.
HABEAS CORPUS 28 U.S.C. § 2254
Timothy C. Batten, Sr., United States District Judge.
This case comes before the Court on the motion  of Brian Owens, the Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Corrections (" GDC"), to intervene as a party-respondent in this action.
In 2006, following a jury trial in the Superior Court of Troup County, Petitioner James Sands was convicted of two counts of child molestation and one count of simple battery and sentenced to forty years. He is presently incarcerated in the Wheeler Correctional Facility, a private facility that houses Georgia prisoners pursuant to a contract with the GDC. In September 2014, Sands, acting pro se, filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, challenging his convictions and sentence. The only named respondent is Jason Medlin, the warden of Wheeler Correctional Facility. On December 1, Owens filed his motion to intervene.
28 U.S.C. § 2242 provides that a petition for a writ of habeas corpus shall allege, among other things, " the name of the person who has custody" of the petitioner. Rule 2(a) of the Rules Governing § 2254 Cases elaborates on this requirement, stating that " [i]f the petitioner is currently in custody under a state-court judgment, the petition must name as respondent the state officer who has custody." (Emphasis added.) The Advisory Committee Notes to Rule 2(a) further provide that " [t]he proper person to be served in the usual case is either the warden of the institution in which the petitioner is incarcerated or the chief officer in charge of state penal institutions ." (Emphasis added.)
Respondent Medlin, as the warden of a private correctional facility, is not a state officer or employee. Commissioner Owens is the chief officer in charge of Georgia's state penal institutions. It is the GDC, and not Wheeler Correctional Facility or Medlin, that has an interest in defending the State of Georgia's interests in the validity of Sands's convictions and sentence.
Accordingly, Owens's motion to intervene as a party-respondent  is granted. The caption of this case shall be modified to indicate that the Respondents are Jason Medlin, Warden, and Brian Owens, in his official capacity as the Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Corrections.
IT IS SO ORDERED.