United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
KAREN K. CALDWELL, Chief District Judge.
Sharon Anzaldi is an inmate currently confined in the Satellite Camp located on the campus of the Federal Medical Center-Lexington ("FMC-Lexington"), which is located in Lexington, Kentucky. Proceeding without counsel, Anzaldi has filed a habeas corpus petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 [R. 1], challenging on various constitutional grounds her recent federal convictions and 63-month sentence. Anzaldi has paid the $5.00 filing fee. [ Id. ]
The Court screens her petition to determine whether she is entitled to relief under § 2241. See Rule 4, Rules Governing 28 U.S.C. § 2254 Cases (applicable to § 2241 petitions under Rule 1(b)) ; see also 28 U.S.C. § 2243. A district court may summarily dismiss a petition if it appears from its face that the petitioner is not entitled to relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 2243; Blevins v. Lamanna, 23 F.App'x 216, 218 (6th Cir. 2001). Because Anzaldi's habeas petition is premature, she is entitled to no relief under § 2241, and the Court will therefore deny her habeas petition and dismiss this proceeding without prejudice.
On June 10, 2013, a federal jury in Chicago, Illinois, found Anzaldi and two co-defendants guilty of income tax evasion charges, viz., one count of Conspiracy to Defraud the Government in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 286, and of ten counts of submitting a False, Fictitious, and Fraudulent Claim in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 287. See United States v. Sharon Anzaldi, No.1:11-CR-820 (N. D. Ill. 2011). [R. 139, therein] On January 14, 2014, Anzaldi was sentenced to a 63-month prison term, plus a 3-year term of supervised release. [R. 218, therein] On January 30, 2014, Anzaldi and her co-defendants appealed their convictions [R. 223, therein], and that appeal is currently pending in the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit as United States v. Sharon Anzaldi, et al., Case No. 14-1206 (7th Cir. 2014).
Subsequently, on February 18, 2014, regardless of her pending direct appeal of her convictions and sentence, Anzaldi filed a motion to vacate, set aside or correct her sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, and moved for the appointment of counsel. United States v. Sharon Anzaldi, No. 1:14-CV-1317-HLW (N. D. Ill., 2014) [R. 1; R. 3, therein] Anzaldi's § 2255 motion is currently pending before the trial court in Illinois, but no further activity has ensued in that proceeding since it was filed.
Thereafter, on April 14, 2014, at which time Anzaldi was an inmate at FMC-Lexington, she filed a § 2241 habeas petition in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, in Washington, D.C. See Sharon Anzaldi v. Francisco Quintant [sic], Warden, No. 1:14-CV-00656-ESH (D.D.C. 2014). On April 24, 2014, that court transferred Anzaldi's § 2241 petition to this district because (1) a § 2241 petition must be filed in the federal court with territorial jurisdiction over the petitioner's immediate custodian, and (2) Anzaldi's immediate custodian is the Warden of FMC-Lexington, which is located in this judicial district. See Memorandum and Opinion, and Order [R. 2 and R. 3 therein]. The actual transfer to this district was not electronically effectuated until May 16, 2014. Subsequently, upon initial review, by Memorandum Opinion and Order of May 27, 2014, the undersigned denied Anzaldi's § 2241 petition as prematurely filed and dismissed the case without prejudice. See Sharon Anzaldi v. Francisco Quintana, Warden, No. 5:14-cv-189-KKC (E. D. Ky. 2014) [R. 6 and R. 7 therein].
For reasons unknown to the Court, after the dismissal of the foregoing § 2241 petition on May 27, 2014, shortly thereafter, on June 2, 2014, Anzaldi filed another § 2241 petition, but this time she correctly filed it in this judicial district, as this district has jurisdiction over her immediate custodian. Although Anzaldi's present § 2241 challenges the legality of her underlying conviction, claims that she is unlawfully imprisoned, and requests the same relief from her convictions and sentence as did her prior habeas petition, the two petitions are very dissimilar. In her present § 2241 petition, Anzaldi challenges her recent convictions and sentence under the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Eleventh Amendments of the United States Constitution. Her claims include, but are not limited to, allegations that there was no arrest warrant; that there were improper grand jury proceedings, or alternatively, no grand jury; that she received ineffective assistance of counsel at trial; and, that the prosecution was malicious and prejudicial. [R. 1, pp. 2-3]
For the same reasons stated in the Memorandum Opinion and Order of May 27, 2014, dismissing Anzaldi's prior § 2241 petition (Civil No. 5:14-cv-189-KKC), Anzaldi's present § 2241 petition is likewise premature. In this action, Anzaldi again challenges the legality of her underlying criminal convictions and sentence, claiming that prior to and during her criminal proceeding, her various constitutional rights were violated. To reiterate, § 2241 is not the mechanism for asserting such constitutional challenges: 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a) provides the correct mechanism for a federal prisoner to challenge his conviction or sentence. Terrell v. United States, 564 F.3d 442, 447 (6th Cir. 2009). Section § 2255 is the mechanism for collaterally challenging errors that occurred "at or prior to sentencing." Eaves v. United States, No. 4:10-CV-36, 2010 WL 3283018, at *6 (E.D. Tenn. Aug. 17, 2010). A petitioner may challenge the legality of his conviction through a § 2241 petition only where his or her remedy under Section 2255 "is inadequate or ineffective" to test the legality of his detention. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e).
Because her direct criminal appeal is still pending, at this juncture, it is entirely premature for Anzaldi to pursue any claims under § 2241. Furthermore, for the same reason, Anzaldi's § 2255 motion is also premature, although that motion is not before this Court and must be considered by the district court in Illinois.
This Court has recently rejected as premature a § 2241 petition filed under similar circumstances. In Heard v. Withers, No.5:13-107-KKC, 2013 WL 3984514 (E.D. Ky. Aug. 2, 2013), a federal prisoner filed a § 2241 petition in this Court, seeking relief from his Kentucky federal convictions at the same time his direct appeal of those convictions was pending before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. [ Id., at *1-*2] The undersigned denied Heard's § 2241 petition as premature, adhering to the concepts set forth in Smith v. United States, 89 F.3d 835 (6th Cir. 1996) (unpublished) that absent extraordinary circumstances, a federal prisoner must first complete the direct appeal process, and then, if necessary, file a motion seeking relief under § 2255 in the district court where he was convicted, but that a challenge brought under § 2255 while a direct appeal of a criminal conviction is pending cannot be entertained. Heard, 2013 WL 3984514, at *2.
In another similar case filed in this Court, Denton v. U.S. Atty. Gen., No. 6:12-CV-219-DCR, 2012 WL 5450034, at *1 (E.D. Ky. Nov. 7, 2012), the prisoner filed a § 2241 petition, seeking relief from his various Alabama federal convictions at the same time his direct appeal of those convictions was pending before the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. [ Id., at ...