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Smith v. United States Bureau of Prisons

United States District Court, District Circuit

September 20, 2013

ALVIN DARRELL SMITH, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES BUREAU OF PRISONS, Respondent.

MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING THE RESPONDENT'S MOTION TO TRANSFER Document No. 4, 9.

RUDOLPH CONTRERAS, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter is before the court on the respondent's motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, to transfer. The pro se petitioner, Alvin Smith, an inmate in Adelanto, California, challenges the constitutionality of his detention and recent denial of parole. The United States Parole Commission denied the petitioner's parole request despite his reduction from a 2 to a 1 under the District of Columbia Board of Parole guidelines. The petitioner also complains that prison personnel at USP Victorville obstructed his correspondence in violation of the Constitution under the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 14th Amendments and the Due Process Clause. The respondent, the United States Bureau of Prisons, asks the Court to dismiss the petitioner's Writ of Habeas Corpus or to transfer the case to the Central District of California. The petitioner opposes the motion, arguing that this Court has jurisdiction to hear his claim. Because the Court determines that the relevant factors weigh in favor of transferring the case to California, it grants the respondent's motion.

II. FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS & PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On January 13, 1994, the petitioner began his 16 year, 6 month to life sentence for second degree murder while armed. ECF No. 17. Including time served, educational credits, and good behavior, the petitioner was eligible for parole on January 14, 2010. Pet. Resp. Def. Mot. Dismiss. On April 9, 2012, the petitioner attended a parole hearing for a crime carrying a sentence of 16 years and 6 months to life. ECF No. 2 Exh. A. The Parole Commission did not grant the petitioner parole, and set the next hearing for April 2015 despite the petitioner's parole guidelines score being decreased from a 2 to a 1. Id.

On September 27, 2012, the petitioner filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the District of Columbia Superior Court. See Alvin D. Smith v. United States Bureau of Prisons, Criminal Case NO. 1992 FEL 012129 ("Pet. Writ of Habeas Corpus"). At the time of filing the Writ of Habeas Corpus, the petitioner was and still is detained at the USP Victorville in Adelanto, California. ECF No. 2, Exh. A at 3-4. The respondent removed the case to the District Court of the District of Columbia on November 20, 2012. ECF No. 2. The respondent moved to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction on January 11, 2013. ECF No. 4. After a motion to extend time and an order to show cause, the petitioner filed his opposition to the respondent's motion to dismiss on August 29, 2013. Pet. Opp'n to Resp. Mot. to Dismiss, ECF. No. 11.

III. ANALYSIS

A. Legal Standard for Motion to Dismiss Under Rule 12(b)(1)

Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and the law presumes that "a cause lies outside this limited jurisdiction." Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375 (1994). Accordingly, a federal court should first determine that it has jurisdiction over a case before ruling on the merits. Al-Zahrani v. Rodriguez, 669 F.3d 315, 317-18 (D.C.Cir.2012). On a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1), the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing jurisdiction by a preponderance of the evidence. Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 561 (1992). When considering a motion under Rule 12(b)(1), the court may look beyond the allegations set forth in the complaint and "may consider materials outside the pleadings." Jerome Stevens Pharm., Inc. v. FDA, 402 F.3d 1249, 1253 (D.C.Cir.2005).

B. Legal Standard for Transfer of Venue

"A district court of a district in which is filed a case laying venue in the wrong division or district shall dismiss, or if it be in the interest of justice, transfer such case to any district or division in which it could have been brought." 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a). Under 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a), transfer is appropriate when procedural obstacles impede an expeditious and orderly adjudication on the merits of a case. Sinclair v. Kleindienst, 711 F.2d 291, 293-94 (D.C.Cir.1983).

"Whenever a civil action is filed in a court... including a petition for review of administrative action, is noticed for or filed with such a court and that court finds that there is a want of jurisdiction, the court shall, if it is in the interest of justice, transfer such action or appeal to any other such court in which the action or appeal could have been brought at the time it was filed or noticed." 28 U.S.C. § 1631.

C. The Court Grants the Motion to Transfer Venue

The respondent asserts that the instant action should be dismissed, or in the alternative, transferred to the Central District of California. The respondent argues that this Court ...


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