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Ellis v. Virginia Parole Board

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

March 6, 2015

CARLTON ELLIS, a/k/a CARLETON ELLIS, [1], Petitioner,
VIRGINIA PAROLE BOARD, et. al., [2], Respondents.


DAVID L. BUNNING, District Judge.

Carlton Ellis is presently confined by the BOP in the United States Penitentiary-McCreary, located in Pine Knot, Kentucky. Ellis has filed a pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, seeking relief from a detainer[3] which he states that the Virginia Parole Board ("VPB") has lodged against him.

The Court conducts an initial review of habeas corpus petitions, 28 U.S.C. § 2243; Alexander v. Northern Bureau of Prisons, 419 F.Appx. 544, 545 (6th Cir. 2011), and 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 pursuant to Rule 1(b)). The Court evaluates Ellis'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). At this stage, the Court accepts Ellis's factual allegations as true, and liberally construes his legal claims in his favor. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007).

Having reviewed the habeas petition, the Court must deny it because Ellis must assert the challenge to his detainer in the state courts of Virginia. The Court also will deny as moot Ellis's motion requesting the issuance of summons for the respondents.


The following is a summary of the facts, based on information contained in Ellis's § 2241 petition and information publically available through PACER, the federal judiciary's online database. In December 1989, Ellis was charged with robbery in Orange County, Virginia. He was subsequently convicted of the offense and received a 44-year prison sentence, but he was paroled from that sentence on August 29, 2010.

On February 25, 2013, a criminal complaint was filed in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, charging Ellis with using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(2). United States v. Carlton Eugene Ellis, No. 1:13-CR-198-GBL (E.D. Va. 2013) [R. 1, therein;[4] see also, Affidavit of Victor Castro, Special Agent employed by the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives ("ATF") R. 2, therein]. On that same date, Ivan D. Davis, United States Magistrate Judge, issued a warrant for Ellis's arrest. [R. 6, therein].

On March 5, 2013, federal agents arrested Ellis. [ Id. ] On that same date, the VPB filed a warrant charging Ellis with violating the terms of his parole, and Ellis was immediately committed to the Alexandria County Jail. On March 7, 2013, after conducting a detention hearing in the federal criminal proceeding, United States Magistrate Judge Theresa Carroll Buchanan entered a "Detention Order Pending Trial, " pursuant to which Ellis was ordered to remain in custody. [R. 11, therein]. On July 3, 2013, Ellis entered into a Plea Agreement in which he pleaded guilty to the § 924 (c) firearm offense [R. 32, therein], and on September 13, 2013, he received a 30-month prison sentence, to be followed by a 5-year term of supervised release. [R. 57, therein].

In his § 2241 petition, Ellis contends that the VPB scheduled a parole revocation hearing for September 25, 2013, but that the revocation hearing has never occurred. Ellis claims that he was improperly held in the Orange County, Virginia jail from March 4, 2013, until October 2013, and that the VPB failed to conduct a hearing within a reasonable time as required by Morrisey v. Brewer, 408 U.S. 471 (1972); that the VPB has improperly lodged a detainer warrant with the BOP authorities; and that the VPB has not acted in good faith. Ellis states that he "...should have been taken back to the state prison on the violation within the time frame He [sic] was held at a county jail." [R. 1-1, p. 2]. Ellis further states that the VPB violated his constitutional rights "by denying him a fair revocation hearing and by not having him recommitted back to state custody so that his Federal time would have run while he was in state custody." [ Id., p. 3]. Ellis also contends the parole-violator detainer issued by the VPB has adversely affected his ability to be placed in a halfway house. [ Id. ] Ellis's claims thus fall under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees due process of law.

Ellis seeks an order directing the VPB to remove all parole violation warrants and detainers, and to award him "credit for time served." [ Id. ] Presumably, Ellis refers to the time which he has served in custody since March 2013.


Ellis is asking this Court to order the VPB to withdraw the parole warrant and detainer which it issued in March 2013, and to credit his 1989 state sentence with the time that he has served in custody, on the basis that the VPB violated his rights set forth in Morrisey v. Brewer . The entities named as respondents to this action are the VPB, the Attorney General of Virginia, and the Orange County Circuit Court, and those are the entities from which Ellis seeks relief in this proceeding. Ellis does not allege that the BOP or any federal official has violated his federal constitutional rights.

This Court cannot grant Ellis any of the relief which he seeks, because a prisoner must apply to a state court for relief from a state detainer. See Robinson v. People of the State of Illinois, 752 F.Supp. 248, 249 (N.D. Ill. 1990) (concluding that "no arguable legal basis" existed for the plaintiff/petitioner's mandamus request to compel the state court to order the removal of a state detainer). A federal court has no superintending function or control over a state court, and no general power to compel action by state officers. Id.; Davis v. Lansing, 851 F.2d 72, 74 (2d Cir. 1988); Van Sickle v. Holloway, 791 F.2d 1431, 1436 n.5 (10th Cir. 1986); More v. Clerk, DeKalb County Superior Court, 474 F.2d 1275, 1276 (5th Cir. 1973) ( per curiam ); Haggard v. Tennessee, 421 F.2d 1384, 1386 (6th Cir. 1970).

If Ellis wants to compel judicial action regarding his state detainer, he must apply to a state court in Virginia where the detainer was issued, as state law issues are involved. See Wade v. Hamilton County Prosecutor's Office, No. 1:11-CV-590, 2011 WL 5920770 (S.D. Ohio Nov. 7, 2011) (" the extent Mr. Wade seeks mandamus relief by requesting rulings compelling state officials to either lodge a detainer or dismiss the outstanding warrants, this Court lacks the authority to grant such relief."); Smith v. Ohio Adult Parole Authority, 2010 WL 1839017, at *4 (E.D. Ky. May 5, 2010) ("If Petitioner believes that the Ohio Adult Parole Authority has acted in contravention of state law, the petitioner must initiate proceedings within the state courts of Ohio to effectuate relief. Federal courts are without authority to issue writs of mandamus to direct state officials to conform their conduct to state law."); Seward v. Heinze, 262 F.2d 42 (9th Cir. 1958) (issues concerning whether sentencing state had waived its right to insist upon completion of the petitioner's numerous state sentences was a question of state law); McCowan v. Nelson, 436 F.2d 758 (9th Cir. 1970) (whether California Adult Authority was required to promptly execute its order suspending petitioner's parole and whether petitioner was entitled to credit for ...

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