United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Aiken Division
Bryan Harwell United States District Judge.
Luis Figueroa, a federal prisoner proceeding pro se, has
filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2241. See ECF No. 1. The matter is
before the Court for consideration of Petitioner's
objections to the Report and Recommendation (“R &
R”) of United States Magistrate Judge Shiva V.
Hodges. See ECF Nos. 7 & 9. The
Magistrate Judge recommends that the Court summarily dismiss
Petitioner's § 2241 petition without prejudice and
without requiring Respondent to file an answer or return. R
& R at pp. 1, 6.
Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to the Court.
The Magistrate Judge's recommendation has no presumptive
weight, and the responsibility to make a final determination
remains with the Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S.
261, 270-71 (1976). The Court must conduct a de novo review
of those portions of the R & R to which specific
objections are made, and it may accept, reject, or modify, in
whole or in part, the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge
or recommit the matter with instructions. 28 U.S.C. §
Court must engage in a de novo review of every portion of the
Magistrate Judge's report to which objections have been
filed. Id. However, the Court need not conduct a de
novo review when a party makes only “general and
conclusory objections that do not direct the [C]ourt to a
specific error in the [M]agistrate [Judge]'s proposed
findings and recommendations.” Orpiano v.
Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982). In the absence
of specific objections to the R & R, the Court reviews
only for clear error, Diamond v. Colonial Life & Acc.
Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005), and the
Court need not give any explanation for adopting the
Magistrate Judge's recommendation. Camby v.
Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 199-200 (4th Cir. 1983).
Magistrate Judge notes, Petitioner's instant § 2241
petition is the second one filed in this Court this year;
both petitions challenge Petitioner's conviction and
sentence imposed in the District of New Jersey.
Compare ECF No. 1, with Figueroa v. Meeks,
Civ. No. 1:17-cv-00284-RBH, at ECF No. 1 (D.S.C.)
(“Figueroa I”). The Magistrate Judge
recommends summarily dismissing Petitioner's instant
§ 2241 petition because (as in his prior § 2241
action) he fails to establish that a § 2255 motion is
inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of his
detention. R & R at pp. 4-6. Petitioner lodges several
objections to the R & R. See ECF No. 9.
majority of Petitioner's objections-that he is being
detained without due process of law, that the doctrine of
procedural default does not apply “because the issues .
. . are jurisdictional in nature, ” and that his claims
are properly brought under 28 U.S.C. § 2241-all relate
to matters that were considered and rejected by the Court in
Petitioner's prior § 2241 action. See Figueroa
I, at ECF No. 11. As the Court previously explained,
[I]t is well established that defendants convicted in federal
court are obliged to seek habeas relief from their
convictions and sentences through § 2255. It is only
when § 2255 proves inadequate or ineffective to test the
legality of detention, that a federal prisoner may pursue
habeas relief under § 2241. Importantly, the remedy
afforded by § 2255 is not rendered inadequate or
ineffective merely because an individual is procedurally
barred from filing a § 2255 motion.
. . . . More specifically, § 2255 is inadequate and
ineffective-and § 2241 may be utilized-when: (1) at the
time of conviction, settled law of this circuit or the
Supreme Court established the legality of the conviction; (2)
subsequent to the prisoner's direct appeal and first
§ 2255 motion, the substantive law changed such that the
conduct of which the prisoner was convicted is deemed not to
be criminal; and (3) the prisoner cannot satisfy the
gatekeeping provisions of § 2255 because the new rule is
not one of constitutional law.
Rice v. Rivera, 617 F.3d 802, 807 (4th Cir. 2010)
(internal citations, quotation marks, and ellipsis omitted).
Here, Petitioner cannot show § 2255 is inadequate or
ineffective because the substantive law has not changed so
that his conduct (conspiring to distribute cocaine) is no
longer criminal. Thus, Petitioner is not entitled to relief
under § 2241, and the Court must dismiss his § 2241
certificate of appealability will not issue absent “a
substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional
right.” 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2). When the district
court denies relief on the merits, a prisoner satisfies this
standard by demonstrating reasonable jurists would find the
court's assessment of the constitutional claims is
debatable or wrong. Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473,
484 (2000); seeMiller-El v. Cockrell, 537
U.S. 322, 336-38 (2003). When the district court denies
relief on procedural grounds, the prisoner must demonstrate
both that the dispositive procedural ruling is debatable and
that the petition states a debatable claim of the denial of a
constitutional right. Sl ...