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Jackson v. Atkins

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma

April 2, 2018

LOWELL EDWARD JACKSON, Petitioner,
v.
CHUCK E. ATKINS, Respondent.

          ORDER TO SUBSTITUTE RESPONDENT AND ORDER TO AMEND

          J. Richard Creatura United States Magistrate Judge

         The District Court has referred this petition for a writ of habeas corpus to United States Magistrate Judge J. Richard Creatura. The Court's authority for the referral is 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) and (B), and local Magistrate Judge Rules MJR3 and MJR4. Petitioner Lowell Edward Jackson filed the petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.

         Petitioner alleges that he is being unlawfully held in the Oregon State Penitentiary based on either a conviction or an arrest warrant from Clark County in Washington. Though he initially named the Clark County Sheriff as the respondent, he has since requested that the proper respondent, namely the superintendent of the prison in which he is housed, be substituted in this case.

         If petitioner is challenging the conviction on which he is currently being held, the superintendent is not within the Western District of Washington's territorial jurisdiction and the Court cannot exercise personal jurisdiction over him. However, if petitioner is challenging future custody in Clark County, the Court would have personal jurisdiction. Therefore, before making a determination on petitioner's motion to transfer, petitioner must file an amended complaint clarifying whether he is challenging the conviction on which he is being held.

         Therefore, petitioner is being given an opportunity to clarify this by identifying the conviction he is challenging.

         BACKGROUND

         Petitioner is an inmate housed in the Oregon State Penitentiary. Petitioner originally filed this action in Oregon, naming the Clark County Sheriff as respondent and alleging that he was being illegally detained under a Clark County order. Dkt. 1. Because petitioner named a Washington resident as respondent and challenged a Washington order, the Oregon court transferred the case to the Western District of Washington. Dkt. 3. This Court ordered petitioner to show cause or amend his complaint to include the appropriate respondent, namely the person with custody of petitioner. Dkt. 7. Petitioner subsequently substituted the correct respondent and filed a motion to transfer the case back to Oregon. Dkt. 8. Petitioner's habeas petition is unclear as to whether he is challenging a Washington order or whether he is challenging a Washington conviction for which he will be imprisoned in the future.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Substitution of Respondent

         Petitioner originally named Chuck Atkins, the Clark County Sheriff, as the respondent in this action. As noted in the Court's previous order, under Rule 2(a) of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases, “the petition must name as respondent the state officer who has custody.” The appropriate state officer is the person “with the ability to produce the prisoner's body before the habeas court.” Rumsfeld v. Padilla, 542 U.S. 426, 435 (2004).

         Here, petitioner has submitted a motion to transfer that indicates he desires to change the respondent to Brandon Kelly. Dkt. 8. Brandon Kelly is the superintendent of the Oregon State Penitentiary, the prison in which petitioner is housed. Because of this, Kelly is the proper respondent in this habeas action. Therefore, the Court directs the Clerk to substitute Brandon Kelly as the respondent. The Court emphasizes that, although petitioner's original petition has not been amended to reflect the new respondent, the Court treats the petition as though Brandon Kelly has replaced Chuck Atkins as the respondent.

         II. Motion to Transfer

         Plaintiff has also filed a motion to transfer his case to the District of Oregon, indicating that, because Kelly is now the respondent, the “jurisdiction has changed” in his case. Dkt. 8. The Court interprets this as a motion to transfer the case for lack of personal jurisdiction.

         “Federal courts have authority to grant writs of habeas corpus ‘within their respective jurisdictions.'” Malone v. Calderon, 165 F.3d 1234, 1237 (9th Cir. 1999) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 2241). As noted above, the proper respondent in a habeas case is petitioner's custodian. Padilla, 542 U.S. at 434. Because of this, a petitioner need not be confined in the district where he files the petition, so long as the Court retains personal jurisdiction over petitioner's custodian. SeeBraden v. 30th Judicial Circuit Court, 410 U.S. 484, 495 (1973). To determine jurisdiction “[i]n habeas challenges to present physical confinement . . . the district of confinement is synonymous with the district court that has territorial jurisdiction over the proper respondent.” Padilla, 542 U.S. at 444 (emphasis in original). Therefore, when the petitioner names a respondent who is beyond the district court's territorial jurisdiction, the Court generally lacks personal ...


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