United States District Court for the District of Columbia
May 28, 2004.
GREGORY OUTLAW, Petitioner
KATHRYN HAWK-SAWYER et al., Respondents
The opinion of the court was delivered by: RICARDO URBINA, District Judge
TRANSFERRING THE ACTION TO THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF
Petitioner Gregory Outlaw, a District of Columbia offender, currently
is in custody at the Federal Correctional Complex ("FCC") of the Bureau
of Prisons ("BOP") in Petersburg, Virginia. He filed a petition for a
writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C § 2241, naming as respondents
the BOP director and the chairman of the U.S. Parole Commission ("the
Commission"), who in turn move to transfer the case for lack of personal
jurisdiction. Because the court lacks personal jurisdiction over the
petitioner's custodian, the court transfers the action to the Lastern
District of Virginia.
In 1987, a judge of the Superior Court for the District of Columbia
sentenced the petitioner for armed robbery, first-degree burglary, and
other offenses. Pet. at 4 & Lxs. 1-2. In 1996, after having served
several years,*fn1 the petitioner eventually was released into the community subject to supervision through 2011. Id.
In December 2001, the petitioner was re-arrested and charged with
aggravated assault. Id. at 4-5. Although the criminal case was
dismissed, the Commission issued a parole violator's warrant for the
petitioner, which the U.S. Marshals Service executed in January 2002. Id.
at 5 & Ex. 3. One month later, a hearing examiner commenced a
parole-revocation hearing, but continued the hearing until March 2002
after the victim's sister an eyewitness to the alleged assault who
identified the petitioner as the attacker failed to appear. Id. at 5-6
& Ex. 4. At the March 2002 hearing, the sister appeared to recant her
earlier identification, testifying that "during the course of the events
[on the date of the assault] she heard the name Gregory Outlaw mentioned
and went with that name as her brother's assailant." Id. Ex. 5
(paraphrasing the sister's testimony). The hearing examiner found that the
sister's hearing testimony was not credible and credited her earlier
identification of the petitioner. Id. at 6 & Ex. 5. Subsequently, the
Commission revoked the petitioner's parole. Id. at 6 & Ex. 9. The
petitioner then was transferred to BOP custody and incarcerated at FCC
Alleging that his custody violates his due-process rights and liberty
interest, the petitioner filed his section 2241 petition in this court.
Id. at 7. Specifically, he contends that the Commission
should not be allowed to make a `good cause' finding
for not producing a witness when they essentially make
no efforts to locate and subpoena the witness, have no
good reasons to disregard his testimony, particularly
given the circumstances of the case against [the
petitioner]-where the criminal case has been dismissed
and neither of the alleged eyewitnesses . . . have
produced sworn statements to enforcement authorities,
and the statement given to defense counsel is the only
statement that [the victim] gave under oath, providing
the identity of the true perpetrator  and providing
an explanation for why [the petitioner's] name got
Id. In response, the respondents filed a motion to transfer, asserting
that the petitioner may not bring his claim in the District of Columbia
because this court lacks personal jurisdiction over the warden of FCC Petersburg. Mot. at 1. The court now turns to the motion to
A. Legal Standard for Relief Under 28 U.S.C.
Prisoners may attack the manner of execution of a federal sentence
pursuant to the federal habeas statute, 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Chatman-Bey v.
Thornburgh, 864 F.2d 804
, 809 (B.C. Cir. 1988); United States v. Jalili,
925 F.2d 889, 893 (6th Cir. 1991) (citing United States v. Hutchings,
835 F.2d 185
, 186 (8th Cir. 1987)). "[T]he law in this circuit is clear
that `[a] district court may not entertain a habeas corpus petition
unless it has personal jurisdiction over the custodian of the prisoner.'"
Chatman-Bey, 864 F.2d at 810 (citing Guerra v. Meese, 786 F.2d 414, 415
(D.C. Cir. 1986)). The custodian of the prisoner is the warden of the
facility in which the prisoner is held. Id. at 811.
B. The Court Lacks Personal Jurisdiction Over the
As noted, the petitioner lists as respondents the BOP director and the
chairman of the Commission. Pet. at 1. The respondents contend that
because the petitioner is confined at FCC Petersburg, the court lacks
personal jurisdiction over his custodian and thus should transfer the case
to the Eastern District of Virginia. Mot. at 1-2. The petitioner argues
that the Commission may serve as the petitioner's custodian for purposes
of the instant petition in light of the "unique situation" of District of
Columbia offenders, whose parole falls within the Commission's
jurisdiction. Pet'r's Opp'n at 2-3 (citing the 2000 transfer of District
of Columbia criminal-justice functions to the federal government pursuant
to D.C. Code § 24-101 et seq.). Specifically, the petitioner contends
that the traditional rule requiring federal prisoners to file their
petitions in the district of incarceration should not apply here because
the petitioner is a District of Columbia offender and thus his petition does not raise
concerns about "forum-shopping." Id. at 4-5.
Notwithstanding the admittedly unique circumstances of District of
Columbia offenders, the court notes that "[the D.C. Circuit] has
evidenced no inclination to carve out an exception to [the traditional
rule] for D.C. Code offenders," and agrees that "in the absence of such
an exception, the Court is not free to create one." Doughty v. United
States Bd. of Parole, 782 F. Supp. 653, 657 (D.D.C. 1992). Thus, courts
addressing a petition filed by a District of Columbia offender
incarcerated outside the District of Columbia have transferred the case
to the district in which the petitioner is incarcerated. Id.
(transferring a case filed by a District of Columbia offender
incarcerated in a federal facility in Kentucky to the Eastern District of
Kentucky); Gilliard v. Barry, 1989 WL 10612, at *1 (D.D.C. Jan. 31, 1989)
(transferring an action filed by a District of Columbia offender
incarcerated in a federal facility in Pennsylvania to the Middle District
of Pennsylvania); see also Simmons v. Shearin, 295 F. Supp.2d 599, (D.
Md. 2003) (dismissing the Commission from a case filed by a District of
Columbia offender incarcerated in a federal facility in Maryland on the
grounds that the Commission was not the offender's custodian).
Accordingly, because the court lacks personal jurisdiction over the
warden of FCC Petersburg, the court transfers the case to the Eastern
District of Virginia.*fn2 Chatman-Bey, 864 F.2d at 811; Doughty, 782 F.
Supp. at 657. IV. CONCLUSION
For the foregoing reasons, the court transfers the action to the
Eastern District of Virginia. An order consistent with this Memorandum
Opinion is separately and contemporaneously issued this 28th day of May,