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Evans v. United States Marshal Service

United States District Court, District of Columbia

April 11, 2016

WILLIAM H. EVANS, JR., Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES MARSHALS SERVICE, Respondent.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

JAMES E. BOASBERG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

William H. Evans, Jr., a state prisoner in Ohio, filed this pro se habeas petition against the United States Marshals Service seeking the removal of what he describes as a “detainer” that USMS allegedly placed in his record. This is the second petition related to the same detainer that Evans has filed in this courthouse. The first was summarily transferred to the Southern District of Ohio, and this Court will follow suit, albeit after a lengthier analysis.

I. Background

Evans has submitted multiple habeas petitions in several different jurisdictions. The first was filed in the Eastern District of Virginia in August 2014 and was transferred to the Southern District of Ohio in October 2015. See Evans v. U.S. Marshal[s] Service, No. 14-1015 (E.D. Va. filed Aug. 7, 2014). Evans is currently appealing that transfer to the Fourth Circuit and has filed a notice of dismissal of the transferred petition in the Southern District of Ohio. See Evans v. U.S. Marshal[s] Service, No. 15-7788 (4th Cir. appeal noted Oct. 20, 2015); Evans v. U.S. Marshal[s] Service, No. 15-677 (S.D. Ohio). The second was filed in the Southern District of Ohio in September 2014, and on March 31, 2015, that court held that Evans “ha[d] failed to establish that he is ‘in custody’ on the claimed detainer that has been lodged against him.” Evans v. U.S. Marshal[s] Service, No. 14-1451, 2015 WL 1476654, at *3 (S.D. Ohio Mar. 31, 2015). Because he was not “in custody, ” he did not satisfy the requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c), and the court dismissed the case, holding that it lacked jurisdiction to consider his petition. See Id. He is currently appealing this ruling. See Evans v. Warden, No. 15-3373 (6th Cir.).

Evans filed his third petition on October 29, 2014, in this courthouse, and on that same day, Judge Amy Berman Jackson issued a summary order transferring the petition to the Southern District of Ohio, given Evans’s current incarceration in that district. See Evans v. U.S. Marshals Service, No. 14-1818 (D.D.C. Oct. 29, 2014), Transfer Order at 1. Evans thereafter appealed the transfer, and the D.C. Circuit ultimately held that it “lack[ed] jurisdiction to review the district court’s transfer order because the case was transferred” before Evans sought review. In re: William H. Evans, Jr., No. 14-5323, slip op. at 1 (D.C. Cir. Aug. 6, 2015). In the Ohio proceedings on this petition, he now contends that all of the judges in the Sixth Circuit and Southern District of Ohio should be recused. See Evans v. U.S. Marshal[s] Service, No. 14-912 (S.D. Ohio).

Apparently dissatisfied with his lack of progress, Evans now returns with his fourth petition. In this one, he contends that his previous D.C. petition was “wrongly ‘[t]ransferred’” and that “[s]ince the D.C. Circuit alleges the only reason it will not review the transfer, is because it ‘lacks jurisdiction, ’” he is free to re-file his petition here. See Pet., ¶¶ 4, 7. Evans further asserts that the issue of the “‘[d]etainer’ has never yet been heard on the merits.” Id., ¶ 11.

The crux of his complaint is his belief that there was a “[federal] ‘[d]etainer’/warrant . . . placed against Petitioner on July 11, 2008, by the U.S. Marshal[s] Service, (USMS/FID: 1482336), ” and that such “detainer” was placed against him without notice. Id., ¶¶ 2-3. Evans requests that “the writ be granted, and the detainer be ordered forthwith [removed] from” his state and federal prison records. Id., ¶ 21.

Before proceeding further, a brief explanation of the term “detainer” may prove useful. Black’s Law Dictionary (10th ed. 2014) offers that, in the criminal-justice context, it is “[a] request sent by a criminal-justice agency to a prison . . . requesting either that a certain inmate be held for the agency or that the agency be notified a reasonable time before the inmate is released.” The Supreme Court, similarly, has defined a detainer as “a request filed by a criminal justice agency with the institution in which a prisoner is incarcerated, asking the institution either to hold the prisoner for the agency or to notify the agency when release of the prisoner is imminent.” Carchman v. Nash, 473 U.S. 716, 719 (1985). Such requests or notifications are generally “based on outstanding criminal charges, outstanding parole- or probation-violation charges, or additional sentences already imposed against the prisoner.” Id.; see Stewart v. Bailey, 7 F.3d 384, 389 (4th Cir. 1993). In other words, a detainer typically prevents a prisoner from being released at the end of his sentence and, instead, operates as a hold until he is transferred elsewhere or picked up by another jurisdiction.

In responding to the Court’s Order to Show Cause, USMS does admit having placed a notice in Evans’s file on June 3, 2008, but it disputes Petitioner’s understanding of the nature of such document. Addressed to the “Inmate Records Office, ” it provides notice that Evans is “under investigation by the U.S. Marshals Service as he[] may pose a threat to the life of a Federal Judge(s) or other USMS Protectee(s).” Return to Order to Show Cause, Exh. 1. USMS maintains, however, that the investigation into Evans was closed on April 19, 2010. See Return at 3, ¶ 5. Respondent also asserts that on November 18, 2015, a “USMS official checked to see if there were any active detainers lodged by the USMS against defendant and found that there were none.” Id. To prove this fact, USMS submitted a print-out of a report purporting to show the results of the USMS official’s search for detainers. See id., Exh. 2 (Lodged Detainer Search Results).

Evans subsequently filed a document styled as a “Motion to Conduct ‘Discovery’, and Reply and Traverse to Respondent’s Return/Answer, ” ECF No. 14, and then filed a “[Supplement] to Reply and Traverse to Respondent’s Return.” ECF No. 16 (brackets in original). He believes that despite USMS’s contention, the detainer still exists in his file. See Mot. at 1. Adding a little meat to the bones of his Complaint, Evans explains that the detainer’s indication that USMS intends to be present for his parole hearing “automatically would spook or scare any Ohio State official, ” effectively converting his present sentence into a sentence of “Life without parole.” Suppl. to Reply at 1.

II. Legal Standard

In evaluating Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss, the Court must “treat the complaint’s factual allegations as true . . . and must grant plaintiff ‘the benefit of all inferences that can be derived from the facts alleged.’” Sparrow v. United Air Lines, Inc., 216 F.3d 1111, 1113 (D.C. Cir. 2000) (quoting Schuler v. United States, 617 F.2d 605, 608 (D.C. Cir. 1979)) (internal citation omitted); see also Jerome Stevens Pharms., Inc. v. FDA, 402 F.3d 1249, 1253 (D.C. Cir. 2005). The Court need not accept as true, however, “a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation, ” nor an inference unsupported by the facts set forth in the Complaint. Trudeau v. Fed. Trade Comm’n, 456 F.3d 178, 193 (D.C. Cir. 2006).

To survive a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), a plaintiff bears the burden of proving that the Court has jurisdiction to hear his claims. See DaimlerChrysler Corp. v. Cuno, 547 U.S. 332, 342 & n.3 (2006); Arpaio v. Obama, 797 F.3d 11, 19 (D.C. Cir. 2015). A court has an “affirmative obligation to ensure that it is acting within the scope of its jurisdictional authority.” Grand Lodge of Fraternal Order of Police v. Ashcroft, 185 F.Supp.2d 9, 13 (D.D.C. 2001). For this reason, “‘the [p]laintiff’s factual allegations in the complaint . . . will bear closer scrutiny in resolving a 12(b)(1) motion’ than in resolving a 12(b)(6) motion for failure to state a claim.” Id. at 13-14 (quoting 5A Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1350 (2d ed. 1987)). Additionally, unlike with a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court “may consider materials outside the pleadings in deciding whether to grant a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. . . .” Jerome Stevens Pharm., 402 F.3d at 1253.

Should the Court find that jurisdiction is lacking, transfer may be appropriate. “Whenever a civil action is filed in 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 . . . .” 28 U.S.C. § 1631; cf. id. § 1406(a) (“A district court of a district in which is filed a case laying venue in the wrong division or district ...


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