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Witchard v. Meeks

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

June 10, 2015

Joseph Witchard #XXXXX-XXX, Petitioner,
v.
B.J. Meeks, Warden, F.C.I. Williamsburg, Respondent.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

JACQUELYN D. AUSTIN, Magistrate Judge.

Joseph Witchard ("Petitioner"), proceeding pro se, brings this habeas corpus action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Petitioner is a prisoner incarcerated at FCI-Williamsburg, in Salters, South Carolina, and he seeks to vacate his criminal conviction and sentence. Petitioner is proceeding in forma pauperis. The Petition is subject to summary dismissal.

BACKGROUND

Petitioner alleges that this action is pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 for a writ of habeas corpus "under The Bivens Act, Supra (1971), U.S. Supreme Court Decision About Federal Employees acting Under Color of Federal Authority." [Doc. 1 at 1; Doc. 5 at 1.] Petitioner alleges that in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida (Orlando) in case number 6:14-cr-112-Orl-72GJK, he was convicted by a jury of thirty (30) counts of aggravated identity theft, mail and tax fraud. [Doc. 1 at 2.] He alleges on January 26, 2015, the sentencing court imposed a 331-month sentence on him to be followed by three years of supervised release. [ Id. at 3.] Further, he alleges he filed a direct appeal on February 11, 2015, in the United States Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and it is pending. [ Id. at 4.]

Petitioner contends that he has not filed a § 2255 motion because it

is to (sic) inadequate to test the legality of this unlawful convictions and sentence because he (the petitioner) is challenging a Judicial Conspiracy formed under color of federal authority involving a U.S. District Judge and two previously sued assistant federal prosecutors and three federal agents acting pursuant to Retaliation and Vindictiveness towards petitioner for his previous filed and presently pending Civil Right Complaints against them.

[ Id. at 4-5.]

Petitioner's ground for habeas relief is that "the trial judge used unlawful Jim Crow Law tactics to deny Petitioner due process equal protection of the law and the right to a fair trial by denying any motion or move he may pursue thus tantamounting (sic) into being railroaded extensively. Also... violation of the 1866 Ku Klux Klan Act." [ Id. at 8.] He contends that his home was searched pursuant to a warrant on February 26, 2010, but he was not prosecuted until four years later. [ Id. ] He allegedly had sued the federal agents and federal prosecutors in 2010, 2011, 2013, and 2014, "in connection with unlawful fraud and identity theft charges gained via an executed search warrant...." [ Id. ] Thus, he contends that those parties had a conflict of interest and prejudice toward him during the indictment and trial process. [ Id. ]

Petitioner also alleges that the arrest warrant related to his conviction was invalid and fraudulent. [Doc. 1 at 10-11.] To support his allegations, he attaches a copy of a § 1983 civil action he apparently recently filed in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida (Orlando) that appears to name law enforcement officials as defendants. [ See Doc. 1-1.]

For his relief, Petitioner requests this Court to order that his convictions and sentence be vacated and to release him from custody. [Doc. 1 at 12.]

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(c) DSC, the undersigned is authorized to review such petitions for relief and submit findings and recommendations to the district court. This Court is charged with screening Petitioner's lawsuit to determine if "it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court." Rule 4, Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the U.S. District Courts (2012); see also Rule 1(b) Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the U.S. District Courts (2012) (a district court may apply these rules to a habeas corpus petition not filed pursuant to § 2254). As a pro se litigant, Petitioner's pleadings are accorded liberal construction and held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by attorneys. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93-94 (2007) (per curiam). However, even under this less stringent standard, the Petition in this case is subject to summary dismissal. The requirement of liberal construction does not mean that the Court can ignore a clear failure in the pleading to allege facts which set forth a claim cognizable in a federal district court. See Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387 (4th Cir. 1990).

DISCUSSION

This action is a habeas action because the crux of it is that Petitioner seeks to vacate the federal criminal conviction and sentence that he is currently serving.[1] He contends that he seeks a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, and he is currently incarcerated at FCI Williamsburg in Salters, South Carolina. Specifically, Petitioner seeks to vacate his conviction in United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida (Orlando) of ...


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