United States District Court, District of Columbia
matter is before the Court on its initial review of
plaintiffs pro se complaint ("Compl.") and
application for leave to proceed in forma pauperis.
The Court will grant the in forma pauperis
application and dismiss the case pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) and 1915A(b)(1), which
mandates dismissal of a complaint that fails to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted.
Raphael Mendez is a federal "civil[ly] committed
detainee" designated to the Rochester Federal Medical
Center ("FMC Rochester"), located in Rochester,
Minnesota. Compl. at 1. He alleges that he is currently
falsely imprisoned at FMC Rochester "without federal
jurisdiction," id. at 1, and accuses
"Senior Judge W. Earl Britt" of "judicial
usurpation," id. at 2. According to a 2011
judgment from the Eastern District of North Carolina,
"Judge Britt . . . presided over Mendez's
civil-commitment proceedings." See Mendez v.
Britt, No. 5:10-CT-3081-D, 2011 WL 13210268, at *2 (E.D.
N.C. Apr. 11, 2011). Mendez sues the President of the United
States, the United States House and Senate Judiciary
Committees, and "other unnamed members of the [f]ederal
[legislation," for mandamus relief. Compl. at 1.
extent Plaintiff is challenging his confinement, mandamus
relief is not available when, as here, an adequate remedy
exists in habeas to address the underlying claim. See
Muhammad v. Close, 540 U.S. 749, 750 (2004)
("Challenges to the validity of any confinement or to
particulars affecting its duration are the province of habeas
corpus [.]") (citation omitted); Chatman-Bey v.
Thornburgh, 864 F.2d 804, 806 (D.C. Cir. 1988) (where
"habeas is an available and potentially efficacious
remedy, it is clear beyond reasonable dispute that mandamus
will not appropriately lie [.]"). To the extent that the
Court might conceivably treat his filing as a habeas
petition, moreover, "a district court may not entertain
a habeas petition involving present physical custody unless
the respondent custodian is within its territorial
jurisdiction." Stokes v. U.S. Parole
Comm'n, 374 F.3d 1235, 1239 (D.C. Cir. 2004).
Although the Court might ordinarily wait to see if the United
States will waive defenses based on venue and personal
jurisdiction, see Lane v. United States, No. CV
14-731, 2015 WL 6406398, at *4-*6 (D.D.C. Oct. 21, 2015), the
Court cannot discern any colorable claim for habeas relief in
Plaintiffs filing. The Court will, accordingly, dismiss any
claims challenging his confinement itself.
also seeks "clearance to air [his] false imprisonment
claim to the American People." Compl. at 7, 9, and
requests mandamus relief approving interviews with the media
at his facility. Id. at 5, 7. Mendez attaches to his
complaint a copy of 28 C.F.R. § 540.63, which provides
that for "unconvicted persons (including competency
commitments under 18 U.S.C. 4244 and 4246)" held in
federal facilities, "interviews are not authorized until
there is clearance with the court having jurisdiction,
ordinarily through the U.S. Attorney's Office." 28
C.F.R. § 540.63(g)(6). Plaintiff asserts that
authorization through the relevant U.S. Attorney's Office
is "not an option for .. . [f]reedom of [p]ress
REPORTING." Compl. at 9.
it is unclear precisely what Mendez argues, to the extent he
seeks judicial clearance for interviews pursuant to that
regulation, his request must be directed to the "court
having jurisdiction." 28 C.F.R. § 540.63(g)(6).
This Court, accordingly, lacks authority to grant the relief
he seeks. Nor can Mendez proceed by way of a writ of
mandamus. The extraordinary remedy of a writ of mandamus is
available to compel an "officer or employee of the
United States or any agency thereof to perform a duty owed to
plaintiff." 28 U.S.C. § 1361. A plaintiff bears a
heavy burden of showing that his right to a writ of mandamus
is "clear and indisputable." In re Cheney,
406 F.3d 723, 729 (D.C. Cir. 2005) (citation omitted).
Plaintiff fails to plead any facts to establish that the
named defendants owe him a duty regarding potential media
interviews. More importantly, though, "[i]t is
well-settled that a writ of mandamus is not available to
compel discretionary acts." Cox v. Sec'y of
Labor, 739 F.Supp. 28, 30 (D.D.C. 1990) (citing cases).
The decision whether to grant an interview request is a
discretionary act. See, e.g., Phillips v. Bureau of
Prisons, 591 F.2d 966, 967 (D.C. Cir. 1979).
these reasons, the complaint is subject to dismissal under 28
U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) and 1915A(b)(1), for
failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. An