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Riddick v. Holland

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, London

March 26, 2014

J.C. HOLLAND, WARDEN, Respondent.


KAREN K. CALDWELL, District Judge.

Harry Lee Riddick is confined in the United States Penitentiary-McCreary, located Pine Knot, Kentucky. Proceeding without counsel, Riddick has filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 [R. 1], challenging his federal convictions for operating a continuing criminal enterprise, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, distribution of cocaine in or near a school, and distribution of cocaine. Riddick has paid the $5.00 filing fee. [ Id. ]

The Court conducts an initial review of habeas corpus petitions. 28 U.S.C. § 2243; Alexander v. Northern Bureau of Prisons, 419 F.App'x 544, 545 (6th Cir. 2011). The Court must deny the petition "if it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief." Rule 4 of the Rules Governing § 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts (applicable to § 2241 petitions under Rule 1(b)). The Court evaluates Riddick's petition under a more lenient standard because he is not represented by an attorney, Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Burton v. Jones, 321 F.3d 569, 573 (6th Cir. 2003), accepts his factual allegations as true, and construes his legal claims in his favor. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007).

Having reviewed the petition, the Court must deny it because Riddick can not pursue his claims under 28 U.S.C. § 2241.


On February 6, 1996, a federal jury in Pennsylvania found Riddick guilty of one count of engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise (21 U.S.C. § 848(a)), one count of conspiring to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine (21 U.S.C. § 846), thirteen counts of distributing cocaine in or near a school (21 U.S.C. § 860(a)), and one count of distribution of cocaine (21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1)). United States v. Riddick, No. 2:94-CR-159-JCJ-1 (E.D. Pa. 1994). On May 7, 1997, Riddick received a 396-month prison sentence.[1]

Riddick appealed the judgment, and the government cross-appealed, arguing that the district court erred in calculating Riddick's sentence. The appellate court affirmed Riddick's conviction, but vacated his sentence and remanded for re-sentencing. United States v. Riddick, 156 F.3d 505 (3rd Cir. 1998) On March 25, 1999, Riddick received a life sentence. [R. 748, therein] Riddick again appealed, but his appeal was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. United States v. Riddick, 210 F.3d 359 (3rd Cir. Feb. 11, 2000) (Table).

On May 16, 2001, Riddick filed a motion to vacate, set aside or correct sentence, which the district court denied on January 31, 2003. See Riddick Criminal case [R. 925, therein]. On October 23, 2003, the appellate court denied Riddick a certificate of appealability. [R. 940, therein] Over the next ten years, Riddick filed a series of successive § 2255 motions, and/or other pleadings construed as successive § 2255 motions, trying to collaterally challenge his convictions on various legal grounds. See Riddick Criminal Case, docket entries between February 2003 and April 2013 [R. 927-1029, therein]. The district court construed all of those motions as unauthorized successive § 2255 motions and denied them as such, and on appeal, the appellate court repeatedly denied Riddick a certificate of appealability as to any of the claims he had asserted. [R. 927-1031, therein]

In April 2005, Riddick filed a prior § 2241 petition in a Texas federal court. Riddick v. Miles, No. 1;05-CV-295-TH-ESH (E.D. Tex. 2005) Riddick collaterally challenged his convictions based on the holdings of United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220(2005), Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. (2004), and Richardson v. United States, 526 U.S. 813 (1999). On May 24, 2005, the district court denied Riddick's § 2241 petition. [R. 6 and 7, therein] Riddick appealed, but the denial was affirmed. The appellate court explained that Riddick's Booker and Blakely claims did not fall under the "savings clause" of 28 U.S.C. § 2255, and that because Riddick's appellate brief indicated that he knew about the Richardson decision before he filing his § 2255 motion in May 2001, "... he therefore could have raised his Richardson issues in that motion and may not pursue them in a § 2241 petition. See Reyes-Requena v. United States, 243 F.3d 893, 904 (5th Cir. 2001)." [R. 21-2, therein; see also Riddick v. Miles, 225 F.App'x 231, 232 (5th Cir. 2007)]

On October 1, 2013, Riddick filed a civil action in the District of Columbia, demanding various agency records pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA"), 5 U.S.C. § 552. Riddick v. Holland, No. 1:13-CV-01512 (D.D.C. 2013) ("the FOIA Action"). The district court determined that Riddick was also seeking habeas relief from his convictions and dismissed those habeas claims, but allowed Riddick's FOIA claims to proceed. [R. 4, therein] The FOIA Action is currently pending, the district court having recently established a briefing schedule in that case. [ Id., see 3/18/14 "Minute Order" setting various deadlines for July 2014.]


In the instant § 2241 petition, Riddick alleges that during the post-judgment phase of his criminal proceeding in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, he was denied due process of law in violation of the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and was also denied effective assistance of counsel in violation of the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Riddick's allegations on these issue are as follows: (1) in February 1996, his counsel failed to provide him with (a) various "post-verdict motions" which he had filed on Riddick's behalf, and (b) the government's responses to those motions; (2) the district court never ruled upon various claims contained in those "post-verdict motions, " which, according to Riddick, are pending as of this date; and (3) that because district failed to rule upon his post-verdict motions, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals "... never properly acquired jurisdiction" to affirm his convictions. See Riddick § 2241 Petition, [R. 1, pp. 5-9; R. 1-1, pp. 1-3, pp. 8-12]

Riddick further asserts that in an effort to remedy the alleged denial of his Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights as outlined above, he filed the FOIA Action. Riddick alleges, however, that the federal court in the District of Columbia has failed to properly address his FOIA requests for documentation, and that it improperly dismissed his habeas claims without addressing their merits. [R. 1-1, p. 3-8] Riddick asks this Court to direct the government to comply with his FOIA requests; to determine that his drug and CCE convictions are not final; and to determine that the Third Circuit Court of ...

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