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El v. Myers

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

May 31, 2019

Ajay El, also known as Arthur Lee Cropp, Jr., Petitioner,
Ronald Myers; United States of America, Respondent.



         The petitioner, Ajay El, also known as Arthur Lee Cropp, Jr., a self-represented federal pretrial detainee, filed this Petition on a standard pleading form seeking a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. This matter is before the court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(c) (D.S.C.) for initial review under 28 U.S.C. § 1915 and § 1915A. Having reviewed the Petition in accordance with applicable law, the court concludes that it should be summarily dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and because it lacks any legal basis.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         Petitioner is a pretrial detainee confined in the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center in Richland County, South Carolina pursuant to federal criminal charges.[1] Petitioner filed this action on a standard Form AO 242 for pro se litigants seeking to file a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2241. The Petition is mostly nonsensical. Petitioner indicates he is challenging the “actions of the Federal agencies using ‘good faith' guised tactics to entrap my person, to make me subject to search and seizure [and] [a]ctions to make me a prisoner against my will in a commercial/financial matter.” (Pet., ECF No. 1 at 2.) Petitioner's asserted grounds for relief include unexplained phrases such as “Full Faith and Credit, ” “Jurisdiction, ” “Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1787, ” and “Foreign Trust EIN #.” (Id. at 6-7.) As for relief, Petitioner seeks to “return to my family” or “be a quiet member of society.” (Id. at 7.)

         II. Discussion

         A. Standard of Review

         Under established local procedure in this judicial district, a careful review has been made of the pro se petition filed in this case pursuant to the Rules Governing § 2254 Cases, [2] 28 U.S.C. § 2254; the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”), Pub. L. No. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214; and in light of the following precedents: Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25 (1992); Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324-25 (1989); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972); Nasim v. Warden, Md. House of Corr., 64 F.3d 951 (4th Cir. 1995) (en banc); Todd v. Baskerville, 712 F.2d 70 (4th Cir. 1983).

         Also, the Petition has been filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, which permits an indigent litigant to commence an action in federal court without prepaying the administrative costs of proceeding with the lawsuit. This statute allows a district court to dismiss the case upon a finding that the action “is frivolous or malicious, ” “fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, ” or “seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).[3]

         This court is required to liberally construe pro se pleadings, which are held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); King v. Rubenstein, 825 F.3d 206, 214 (4th Cir. 2016). Nonetheless, 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); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 684 (2009) (outlining pleading requirements under Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for “all civil actions”).

         B. Analysis

         Here, the court concludes that the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction and that the Petition is frivolous, and thus, should be summarily dismissed. A finding of frivolousness can be made where the complaint “lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact.” Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992). Hence, under § 1915(e)(2)(B), claims may be dismissed sua sponte if they are based on either “indisputably meritless legal theory, ” McLean v. United States, 566 F.3d 391, 399 (4th Cir. 2009) (citing Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989)); or if the facts supporting the claim “rise to the level of the irrational or wholly incredible, ” Denton, 504 U.S. at 33. “The word ‘frivolous' is inherently elastic and ‘not susceptible to categorical definition.' ” Nagy v. FMC Butner, 376 F.3d 252, 256 (4th Cir. 2004) (citing Adams v. Rice, 40 F.3d 72, 74 (4th Cir. 1994)). “The term's capaciousness directs lower courts to conduct a flexible analysis, in light of the totality of the circumstances, of all factors bearing upon the frivolity of a claim.” Id. at 257.

         Here, the allegations and claims raised by Petitioner are incoherent and without any stated support. The court is unable to discern a cognizable legal claim in the Petition, nor can the court make sense of Plaintiff's purported factual allegations. See Holloway v. Pagan River Dockside Seafood, Inc., 669 F.3d 448, 452-53 (4th Cir. 2012) (finding that where the alleged federal claim is “so insubstantial, implausible, foreclosed by prior decisions of [the United States Supreme Court], or otherwise completely devoid of merit as not to involve a federal controversy, ” subject matter jurisdiction does not exist over that claim) (citing Steel Company v. Citizens for a Better Environment, 523 U.S. 83, 89 (1998)). Construing the pleading liberally in light of his pro se status, the court interprets the Petition as seeking release from detention on Petitioner's federal charges. But, such a claim would be frivolous because it lacks an arguable basis in the law. Petitioner's remedy, if any, is to bring such a request through counsel in his pending criminal matter. See generally Mustapha v. Donate, Civil No. 4:CV-08-1875, 2008 WL 4861508 at *2 (M.D. Penn. Oct. 30, 2008) (finding a § 2241 petition should not be entertained where the applicant has an available alternative forum in which to assert his defenses to federal criminal charges) (citing Stolt-Nielsen, S.A. v. United States, 442 F.3d 177, 185 (3d Cir.2006)). Thus, even liberally construing the Petition to state a cognizable legal claim, there is no basis in law for Petitioner to assert such a claim in a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 at this juncture.

         III. Conclusion

         Accordingly, the court recommends that the Petition in the above-captioned case be summarily dismissed without prejudice and without ...

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