United States District Court, D. Rhode Island
JOHN S. MIGUEL, Petitioner,
PATRICIA A. COYNE-FAGUE, Respondent
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
PATRICIA A. SULLIVAN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
August 8, 2019, pro se Petitioner John S. Miguel
filed a 118-page handwritten Petition for Writ of Habeas
Corpus, which he claims to bring pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
2241. ECF No. 1. Respondent, State of Rhode Island, filed a
Motion to Dismiss the Petition. ECF No. 5. Petitioner
objected. ECF No. 6. The Motion to Dismiss was referred to me
for report and recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1)(B). After reviewing the Motion and Petition, I
recommend that the Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 5) be GRANTED
and that the Petition be DISMISSED.
January 16, 1992, Petitioner pled guilty to second degree
murder in Rhode Island Superior Court and received a sentence
of life imprisonment. See Miguel v. State, 774 A.2d
19, 20-21 (R.I. 2001). Petitioner subsequently filed several
appeals to the Rhode Island Supreme Court, arguing that his
intoxication during the crime created a “diminished
capacity, ” thus warranting a reduction of his
sentence. See State v. Miguel, 101 A.3d 880, 883-84
(R.I. 2014) (affirming the Superior Court’s denial of
Miguel’s Rule 35 Motion to Reduce Sentence); Miguel
v. State, 924 A.2d 3 (R.I. 2007) (denying appeal on
res judicata grounds); Miguel v. State, 774
A.2d 19 (R.I. 2001) (rejecting Miguel’s allegations of
diminished capacity and ineffective counsel).
December 27, 2001, Petitioner filed a 28 U.S.C. § 2254
Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in this Court. Miguel
v. Wall, C.A. No. 01-624T. The 2001 case was dismissed,
and his appeal to the First Circuit was denied on April 8,
2003. 01-624 ECF Nos. 23, 42, 43. In 2010, Petitioner again
filed motions in the First Circuit attempting to challenge
the conviction; the 2010 motions were denied. 01-624 ECF No.
44 (denying all motions including application for presenting
a second or successive claim under 28 U.S.C. §
filed a second § 2254 Petition in this Court on July 8,
2015. Miguel v. Wall, C.A. No. 15-281ML. Finding
that the 2015 Petition constituted a second or successive
petition over which the Court lacked jurisdiction (absent
authorization from the First Circuit), the Court dismissed
the case. 15-281 ECF Nos. 10, 12. Petitioner appealed, and
this Court twice rejected his requests for leave to appeal
in forma pauperis because the Court determined,
inter alia, the appeal was without merit and not
taken in good faith. 15-281 ECF Nos. 19, 24, 32. On April 15,
2016, the First Circuit denied Petitioner’s request for
permission to file a second or successive habeas petition.
15-281 ECF Nos. 39, 43, 45.
Petition claims that the Superior Court illegally and
unconstitutionally found Petitioner guilty of second-degree
murder and imposed life imprisonment. ECF No. 1; see
id. at 73-75. It is framed as a “motion asking
permission to proceed with petition under the 28 U.S.C.
2241(c).” Id. at 1. The State’s motion
to dismiss does not acknowledge this; it treats the Petition
as though brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. However,
as a matter of law, this is a distinction without a
2241 bestows upon district courts the power to grant habeas
corpus relief to a ‘prisoner’ who ‘is in
custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties
of the United States.’” In re Wright,
826 F.3d 774, 778 (4th Cir. 2016) (quoting 28 U.S.C. §
2241(a), (c)(3)). “Section 2254, on the other hand,
applies to a subset of those to whom § 2241(c)(3)
applies – it applies to ‘a person in custody
pursuant to the judgment of a State court’ who
is ‘in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws
or treaties of the United States.’” Thomas v.
Crosby, 371 F.3d 782, 786 (11th Cir. 2004) (quoting 28
U.S.C. § 2254(a)) (emphasis in original). “In a
United States District Court, state prisoners . . .
‘can only obtain habeas relief through § 2254, no
matter how [their] pleadings are styled.’”
Bissonette v. Dooley, No. CV 16-5120-JLV, 2017 WL
3995557, at *2 (D.S.D. Sept. 11, 2017) (quoting Crouch v.
Norris, 251 F.3d 720, 722-23 (8th Cir. 2001)). That is,
a petitioner may not “circumvent the prohibition
against successive petitions by styling the petition as being
brought under § 2241.” Keselica v. Wall,
No. CIV.A. 07-67 T, 2007 WL 2667973, at *6 (D.R.I. Mar. 20,
2007) (collecting cases). In short, the law is clear –
because § 2254 is Petitioner’s “only path
for habeas corpus relief, ” Bissonette, 2017
WL 3995557, at *2, the Court must apply the jurisdictional
rules for second or successive § 2254 petitions to the
instant Petition despite its invocation of § 2241.
examining the viability of the Petition under those rules,
the Court remains bound by the principles established by the
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996
(“AEDPA”), which provides, without exception,
that “[a] claim presented in a second or successive
habeas corpus application under section 2254 that was
presented in a prior [federal] application shall be
dismissed.” 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(1) (emphasis
added). A second or successive habeas corpus application is
one filed after a previous application by the same petitioner
has been adjudicated on the merits. Dickinson v.
Maine, 101 F.3d 791 (1st Cir. 1996). The AEDPA provides
that before a “second or successive application”
for habeas corpus relief is filed in the District Court, the
applicant must obtain an order from the Court of Appeals
authorizing the District Court to consider such application.
28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(3)(A). “This provision
allocates subject matter jurisdiction to the court of appeals
by stripping the district court of jurisdiction over a
successive or second habeas petition unless and
until the court of appeals has decreed that it may go
forward.” LeBlanc v. Wall, C.A. No. 05-294ML,
2005 WL 2972991, at *1 (D.R.I. Oct. 19, 2005) (emphasis in
original) (citing Pratt v. United States, 129 F.3d
54, 55-57 (1st Cir. 1997)).
Petition constitutes a second or successive petition that
this Court does not have jurisdiction to consider absent
authorization from the Court of Appeals. 28 U.S.C.
2244(b)(3)(A); see also Rule 9 of the Rules
Governing § 2254 cases. Petitioner did not obtain the
necessary authorization from the Court of Appeals before
filing it. Accordingly, I recommend that this action be
dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(1) as an
improper “second or successive” petition.
on the foregoing, I recommend that the Court grant the
State’s Motion (ECF No. 5) and dismiss the Petition
(ECF No. 1).
objection to this report and recommendation must be specific
and must be served and filed with the Clerk of the Court
within fourteen (14) days of its receipt. See Fed.
R. Civ. P. 72(b)(2); DRI LR Cv 72(d). Failure to file
specific objections in a timely manner constitutes waiver of
the right to review by the district judge and the right to
appeal the Court’s decision. See United States v.