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Denis-Contreras v. Flournoy

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Brunswick Division

December 6, 2017

FLOURNOY, Warden, Respondent.



         Petitioner Hilario Denis-Contreras (“Denis-Contreras”), an inmate at the Federal Correctional Institute in Jesup, Georgia, filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. (Doc. 1.) I have conducted a preliminary review of Denis-Contreras's claims as required by Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases.[1] For the reasons which follow, I RECOMMEND that the Court DISMISS Denis-Contreras's Petition and CLOSE this case. I also RECOMMEND the Court DENY Denis-Contreras in forma pauperis status on appeal.


         In his Petition, Denis-Contreras states that he is currently detained at FCI Jesup as a result of his conviction in the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico, Case Number 2:15-cr-2117. (Doc. 1, p. 1.) He states that he was sentenced in that federal case on February 26, 2016. (Id.) Denis-Contreras Petition also appears to challenge a decision of the “Immigration and Naturalization Services”[2] and an unspecified California court's April 2013 order that he be deported as part of a criminal sentence. (Id. at pp. 2, 5, 7.)

         Denis-Contreras states that he was previously a lawful resident of the United States and was convicted in California of second degree robbery and fleeing in a stolen vehicle. (Id. at p. 7.) He states that, as part of that sentence, a California court ordered that he be deported. (Id.) Denis-Contreras apparently reentered the United States at some point after this sentence and deportation. Then, on March 21, 2015, he was arrested for reentry to the United States and sentenced to forty-two months. (Id.) Denis-Contreras contends that he “did not violate The Immigration Laws of the U.S.; nor was [he] convicted of a violent felony to be Deported in the first instance and ordered Deported and then being detained illegaly [sic].” (Id. at p. 8.) Thus, he asks that the Court release him from his current “Illegal Detention.” (Id. at p. 9.)


         I. Standard of Review

         Pursuant to Rule 4 of the Rules governing petitions brought under 28 U.S.C. § 2254:

The clerk must promptly forward the petition to a judge . . ., and the judge must promptly examine [the petition]. If 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.

Under Rule 2(c), “[h]abeas corpus petitions must meet heightened pleading requirements.” McFarland v. Scott, 512 U.S. 849, 856 (1994) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 2254 Rule 2(c)). While pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a), complaints in a civil case must contain only “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ” petitions for habeas corpus must “specify all the grounds for relief available to the petitioner” and “state the facts supporting each ground.” Rule 2 of Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases. In other words, habeas petitions must contain “‘fact pleading' as opposed to ‘notice pleading.'” Hittson v. GDCP Warden, 759 F.3d 1210, 1265 (11th Cir. 2014) (internal quotations and citations omitted). “To properly fact plead, ‘a petitioner must state specific, particularized facts which entitle him or her to habeas corpus relief for each ground specified. These facts must consist of sufficient detail to enable the court to determine, from the face of the petition alone, whether the petition merits further habeas corpus review.'” Arrington v. Warden, GDCP, No. CV 117-022, 2017 WL 4079405, at *2 (S.D. Ga. Sept. 14, 2017) (quoting Adams v. Armontrout, 897 F.2d 332, 334 (8th Cir. 1990)). Therefore, a habeas petitioner cannot merely levy conclusory allegations but must support his claims with specific factual detail. Id. (citing James v. Borg, 24 F.3d 20, 26 (9th Cir. 1994)).

         II. Whether it Plainly Appears that Denis-Contreras is not Entitled to Relief

         Though Denis-Contreras's Petition is not a picture of clarity, he asks this Court to set aside his conviction for illegal reentry and the resulting sentence entered in the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico. He is currently incarcerated as a result of that judgment, and he is asking this Court to release him from that custody. (Doc. 1, p. 9.) Denis-Contreras cannot seek such relief in this Court through a Section 2241 petition.

         Habeas corpus petitions “are generally reserved for challenges to the execution of a sentence or the nature of confinement, not the validity of the sentence itself or the fact of confinement.” Vieux v. Warden, 616 F. App'x 891, 896 (11th Cir. 2015) (internal punctuation and citation omitted). Ordinarily, an action in which an individual seeks to collaterally attack “the validity of a federal sentence must be brought under § 2255, ” in the district of conviction. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a); Turner v. Warden Coleman FCI (Medium), 709 F.3d 1328, 1333 (11th Cir. 2013) (citation omitted). To utilize Section 2241 to attack the validity of a federal sentence or conviction, a petitioner must show that the remedy afforded under Section 2255 is “inadequate or ineffective.” Taylor v. Warden, FCI Marianna, 557 F. App'x 911, 913 (11th Cir. 2014); Turner, 709 F.3d at 1333 (noting the petitioner bears the burden of establishing that the remedy under Section 2255 was inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of his detention). A motion to vacate covers only challenges to the validity of a sentence, but the saving clause and a petition for a writ of habeas corpus cover challenges to the execution of a sentence. Cf. Antonelli v. Warden, U.S.P. Atlanta, 542 F.3d 1348, 1351 n.1 (11th Cir. 2008) (“It is well-settled that a § 2255 motion to vacate is a separate and distinct remedy from habeas corpus proper. . . . A prisoner in custody pursuant to a federal court judgment may proceed ...

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