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Foster v. Balis

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division

December 4, 2019

CHRISTOPHER JOHN FOSTER (BOP Register No. 27294-064), Petitioner,
v.
WARDEN BALIS, Respondent.

          FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          DAVID L. HORAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Petitioner Christopher John Foster, an inmate at a federal facility in this district, has filed a pro se habeas petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2241, requesting modification of “terms of post-release placement ... to seek an immediate reassignment to [his] home address.” Dkt. No. 3.

         His case has been referred to the undersigned United States magistrate judge for pretrial management under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and a standing order of reference from Senior United States District Judge A. Joe Fish.

         The undersigned enters these findings of fact, conclusions of law, and recommendation that the Court should dismiss the Section 2241 petition for lack of jurisdiction.

         Applicable Background

         Foster pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252A(a)(5)(B), and, in August 2012, he was sentenced to 97 months of imprisonment. See United States v. Foster, No. 5:11-cr-00380-R (W.D. Okla.), Dkt. No. 38. More recently, in August 2019, Foster admitted guilt to five violations of his term of supervision, his supervised release was vacated, and he was sentenced to 6 months of imprisonment. See id., Dkt. No. 88. The judgment revoking his supervised release includes, as a special condition of supervision, that “[t]he defendant shall reside at a residential re-entry facility (RRC) for up to 180 days as directed by the U.S. Probation Officer upon release from the Bureau of Prisons, or any federal, state, or local correctional facility. The defendant shall report directly to the RRC upon release from custody and shall follow all rules and procedures of the facility.” Id. at 6. And, on October 17, 2019, the sentencing court denied Foster's request

that he be permitted to return home rather than be assigned to a halfway house, one of the Special Conditions of Supervision imposed by the Court when it sentenced Mr. Foster for violating the terms of his supervised release[, ] ... finding that the condition reflects the seriousness of Defendant's underlying offense, the need to deter him from violating the conditions, which in the recent past has proven difficult for Mr. Foster, and the need to protect the public from future crimes.

Id., Dkt. No. 101.

         Foster admits that he is now seeking the same relief from this Court, under the authority of Section 2241. See Dkt. No. 3 (“This Petition follows a Denial under United States District Judge, David L. Russell of the Western District of Oklahoma upon a requested modification order that was adjudicated on 17 October 2019.”).

         Legal Standards and Analysis

         “Federal courts are authorized, under 28 U.S.C. § 2243, to dispose of habeas corpus matters ‘as law and justice require, '” Hilton v. Braunskill, 481 U.S. 770, 775 (1987) - that statute “authorizes a district court to summarily dismiss a frivolous habeas-corpus petition prior to any answer or other pleading by the government, ” Gatte v. Upton, No. 4:14-cv-376-Y, 2014 WL 2700656, at *1 (N.D. Tex. June 13, 2014) (footnote omitted).

         And, under the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts - which “also apply to § 2241 habeas cases, ” Romero v. Cole, No. 1:16-cv-148, 2016 WL 2893709, at *2 & n.4 (W.D. La. Apr. 13, 2016) (collecting authority, including Castillo v. Pratt, 162 F.Supp.2d 575, 576 (N.D. Tex. 2001)), rec. accepted, 2016 WL 2844013 (W.D. La. May 12, 2016) - “[i]f it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court, the judge must dismiss the petition, ” Rule 4, Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts.

         Section 2241 “is the proper procedural vehicle if a prisoner ‘challenges the execution of his sentence rather than the validity of his conviction and sentence.'” Gallegos-Hernandez v. United States, 688 F.3d 190, 194 (5th Cir. 2012) (quoting United States v. Cleto, 956 F.2d 83, 84 (5th Cir. 1992)); see also Robinson v. United States, 812 F.3d 476, 476 (5th Cir. 2016) (per curiam) (“Section 2255 provides ‘the primary means of collaterally attacking a federal sentence.' Section 2241, on the other hand, is used to challenge ‘the manner in which a sentence is executed.'” (quoting Tolliver v. Dobre, 211 F.3d 876, 877 (5th Cir. 2000))).

         But a Section 2241 petition challenging supervised-release conditions “raises errors that occurred at or prior to sentencing” and thus “should be construed as a § 2255 motion.” Robinson, 812 F.3d at 476 (citing Tolliver, 211 F.3d at 877-78); see, e.g.,Cox v. Warden, Fed. Det. Ctr., 911 F.2d 1111, 1113-14 (5th Cir. 1990) (“Cox alleged that the sentencing court improperly imposed supervised release, instead of special parole, and that, even if such were permissible, the court imposed an excessive term of supervised release. The district court's dismissal of ...


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