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McCoy v. Davis

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division

February 1, 2019

Jeffrey Glenn McCoy, # 355188, Petitioner,
Warden Willie Davis, Respondent.



         Petitioner Jeffrey Glenn McCoy, a pro se South Carolina state prisoner, seeks habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. (Dkt. No. 1). Under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2) (D.S.C.), the assigned United States Magistrate Judge is authorized to review the petition and submit a recommendation to the United States District Judge. For the following reasons, the undersigned recommends that the petition be summarily dismissed, without prejudice and without requiring the Warden to respond.


         McCoy is serving sentences for South Carolina convictions at Kirkland Correctional Institution in Columbia, South Carolina. Respondent Willie Davis is the warden.

         McCoy's § 2241 petition involves a detainer from Mississippi filed against him. (See Dkt. No. 1 at 1.) According to McCoy, the detainer is invalid because it “is not supported by an affidavit with judicial determination as to probable cause.” (Dkt. No. 1 at 3.) Nor could it be, McCoy alleges, as there is no evidence he was even in Mississippi when the crimes were committed, let alone that he committed them.[1] (Id. at 2-3.) McCoy contends the detainer violates the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, and he wants this Court to order the detainer dismissed. (Id. at 3.)


         This is a preliminary review of McCoy's § 2241 petition. See Rule 4, Rules Governing § 2254 Cases; see also Rule 1(b), Rules Governing § 2254 Cases (allowing district courts to apply the rules to other § 2241 petitions). The narrow question before the Court is whether it “plainly appears” that McCoy is not entitled to any relief in this Court. Rule 4, Rules Governing § 2254 Cases. If so, the petition must be dismissed; if not, the warden must respond. Id. Because McCoy is representing himself, the undersigned has reviewed the petition liberally. See, e.g., Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007).


         McCoy's § 2241 petition is subject to summary dismissal because it does not name the proper respondent, and this Court lacks personal jurisdiction over the proper respondent, and because this district is not the proper forum for the dispute.

         A prisoner in custody in one state may use § 2241 to attack a detainer lodged by another state. Braden v. 30th Jud.Cir. Ct. of Ky., 410 U.S. 484, 488-89 (1973). A prisoner can challenge the validity of the detainer itself, the effect it has on his current custody, or both. See Norris v. Georgia, 522 F.2d 1006, 1011 (4th Cir. 1975). There is a “fundamental distinction” between those two types of challenges: “[t]he former is an assault on the detainer's underlying criminal charges or conviction, ” while the latter challenges the adverse impacts on the prisoner's current confinement that have resulted from the detainer being filed. Id.

         The type of challenge a prisoner brings against another state's detainer dictates who and where he must sue. A prisoner challenging a detainer's effect on his current confinement may sue his warden in the district where he is confined. See Norris, 522 F.2d at 1010, 1012. However, a prisoner attacking the detainer's validity “must file in the district where the detainer originates, as that district court alone has jurisdiction over the [out-of-]state defendants.” Skinner v. United States, 857 F.2d 1469, 1988 WL 92926 at *1 (4th Cir. 1988) (per curiam) (table); accord Emanuel v. Witkowski, 915 F.2d 1564, 1990 WL 148486, at *1 (4th Cir. 1990) (per curiam) (table); Wallace v. Crawley, 817 F.2d 103, 1987 WL 35965, at *1 (4th Cir. 1987) (per curiam) (table). As the Fourth Circuit explained in Norris, this is so because [i]n order to possess jurisdiction in a case involving a challenge to an untried criminal charge on which a detainer is based, a federal district court must possess the power to grant relief, which would entail possessing the power to direct

[i]n personam, that the pending charge be dismissed. However, a federal district court in the state and district of confinement simply has no state officer within its jurisdiction whom it can direct to dismiss the pending charges, and there is no way of enforcing any writ to that effect which might be issued.

522 F.2d at 1013 (citation omitted); see also Word v. North Carolina, 406 F.3d 352, 357 (4th Cir. 1969) (stating a habeas petition attacking an out-of-state detainer's validity filed in the prisoner's district of confinement “would be met with jurisdictional problems as well as . . . practical difficulties”).[2]

         In addition to that jurisdictional requirement, practical considerations make the federal district where the detainer issued the most appropriate forum for a challenge to the detainer's validity. E.g., Foley v. O'Brien, No. 7:09-cv-212, 2009 WL 5178374, at *1 (W.D. Va. Dec. 29, 2009), aff'd, 376 Fed.Appx. 311 (4th Cir. 2010) (per curiam). After all, that is where all of the material events took place, and where the records and witnesses are likely to be found; it is simpler and less expensive to litigate the question there than in the district where the inmate is housed; and the custodial district is presumably indifferent to ...

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