United States District Court, District of Columbia
S. CHUTKAN United States District Judge.
appearing pro se, seeks a writ of habeas corpus
under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The petition establishes that in
March 1995, a jury in the Superior Court of the District of
Columbia convicted Petitioner of conspiracy to assault and
rob; first-degree murder while armed; assault with intent to
kill while armed; first-degree burglary while armed; and
possession of a firearm during a crime of violence. In May
1995, petitioner was sentenced to an aggregate prison term of
120 years. (See Pet. at 1-2).
claims now that he “is actually and factually innocent
of First Degree Murder.” (Id. at 5). As his
grounds for relief, Petitioner states (1) that both the
Superior Court and the D.C. Court of Appeals “failed to
address all of [his] claims in Motion 23-110 Proceedings,
” and (2) that his trial attorney provided ineffective
assistance when, among other conduct, he failed to move to
sever Petitioner's trial from that of his co-defendants.
(Id. at 5, 7). For the reasons explained below, the
Court finds that it lacks jurisdiction. Consequently, this
case will be dismissed.
a prisoner convicted in a state court or in a United States
district court, “a District of Columbia prisoner has no
recourse to a federal judicial forum unless [he shows that]
the local remedy is inadequate or ineffective to test the
legality of his detention.” Garris v. Lindsay,
794 F.2d 722, 726 (D.C. Cir. 1986) (per curiam) (citations
and internal quotation marks omitted). Thus, “[i]n
order to collaterally attack his sentence [or conviction] in
an Article III court[, ] a District of Columbia prisoner
faces a hurdle that a federal prisoner does not.”
Byrd v. Henderson, 119 F.3d 34, 37 (D.C. Cir. 1997).
of Columbia prisoners may challenge their convictions
collaterally by filing a motion in Superior Court pursuant to
D.C. Code § 23-110, which has been described as “a
remedy analogous to 28 U.S.C. § 2255” for
attacking a federal conviction. Blair-Bey v. Quick,
151 F.3d 1036, 1042 (D.C. Cir. 1998). See Byrd, 119
F.3d at 36-37 (explaining that “[s]ince passage of the
Court Reform Act [in 1970], . . .
District of Columbia prisoner seeking to collaterally attack
his sentence must do so by motion in the sentencing court-
the Superior Court-pursuant to D.C. Code § 23
110”). Section 23-110 of the D.C. Code states:
[an] application for a writ of habeas corpus in behalf of a
prisoner who is authorized to apply for relief by motion
pursuant to this section shall not be entertained by . . .
any Federal . . . court if it appears . . . that the Superior
Court has denied him relief, unless it also appears that the
remedy by motion is inadequate or ineffective to test the
legality of his detention.
D.C. Code § 23-110(g). The Court of Appeals has
interpreted that language as “divest[ing] federal
courts of jurisdiction to hear habeas petitions by prisoners
who could have raised viable claims pursuant to §
23-110(a).” Williams v. Martinez, 586 F.3d
995, 998 (D.C. Cir. 2009); see Ibrahim v. United
States, 661 F.3d 1141, 1142 (D.C. Cir. 2011) (stating
that “the availability of relief by motion under §
23-110 typically precludes the challenger from seeking habeas
relief in federal court”).
23-110(a)(1) authorizes a D.C. prisoner “claiming the
right to be released upon the ground that . . . the sentence
was imposed in violation of the Constitution of the United
States or the laws of the District of Columbia” to
“move the court to vacate, set aside, or correct the
sentence.” The Court of Appeals has concluded
“that the § 23-110 remedy is neither inadequate
nor ineffective to test the legality” of a D.C.
prisoner's conviction where he has raised a claim of
actual innocence. Ibrahim, 661 F.3d at 1146; see
Earle v. United States, 987 F.Supp.2d 7, 11 (D.D.C.
2013) (district court “lacks jurisdiction to consider
[the petitioner's] actual innocence claim-whether
asserted as a ‘gateway' claim to federal court
review or as a ‘stand-alone' claim-because
‘either claim' is available under D.C. Code §
23-110 . . . and, therefore, is foreclosed by Section
23-110(g)”) (quoting Ibrahim, 661 F.3d at
1143). And a claim predicated on trial counsel's
ineffectiveness “falls squarely within the scope of
section 23-110(a).” Whoie v. Warden,
Butner Fed. Medical Ctr., 891 F.Supp.2d 2, 3 (D.D.C.
2012); see Reyes v. Rios, 432 F.Supp.2d 1, 3 (D.D.C.
2006) (“Section 23-110 provided the petitioner with a
vehicle for challenging his conviction based on the alleged
ineffectiveness of his trial counsel.”); Garmon v.
United States, 684 A.2d 327, 329 n. 3 (D.C. 1996)
(“A motion to vacate sentence under [§] 23-110 is
the standard means of raising a claim of ineffective
assistance of trial counsel.”).
attachments to the petition show that he pursued collateral
relief in the local courts, albeit unsuccessfully. Petitioner
contends that the local courts “failed to address all
of [his] claims, ” Pet.at 5, but this court lacks
jurisdiction to review the decisions of other courts,
including those of the D.C. Superior Court and the D.C. Court
of Appeals. See United States v. Choi, 818 F.Supp.2d
79, 85 (D.D.C. 2011) (district courts “generally lack
appellate jurisdiction over other judicial bodies, and cannot
exercise appellate mandamus over other courts.”)
(citing Lewis v. Green, 629 F.Supp. 546, 553 (D.D.C.
1986)). More importantly, Petitioner's lack of success in
the local courts does not render the local remedy inadequate
or ineffective to test the legality of his detention. See
Richardson v. Stephens, 730 F.Supp.2d 70, 73 (D.D.C.
2010) (citing cases). For it is only when a claim
“falls outside [§ 23-110's] scope” that
questions arise about the effectiveness of the local remedy.
Martinez, 586 F.3d at 1000.
the instant petition is grounded upon claims that are
cognizable under D.C. Code § 23-110, this court cannot
exercise jurisdiction over it. Garris, 794 F.2d at
727. A ...