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McClain v. Attorney General

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

November 20, 2013

MS. CHINA ANNE McCLAIN and JOHNNIE GARRETT, # N-20411, Petitioners,


DAVID R. HERNDON, District Judge.


Petitioner Johnnie Garrett is currently incarcerated in the Pinckneyville Correctional Center. This habeas corpus action invoking 28 U.S.C. § 2241 was filed by petitioner Garrett on October 24, 2013. Shortly before filing this case, Garrett filed two other actions in this Court: a habeas corpus action under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 ( Garrett v. Warden, et al., Case No. 13-cv-1082-DRH), which was dismissed upon preliminary review on November 12, 2013; and a civil rights action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1983 ( McClain & Garrett v. Attorney General, et al., Case No. 13-cv-1087-MJR). The latter case is also undergoing a preliminary merits review by the Court.

Although Ms. China Anne McClain is listed as a co-petitioner in the pleadings, there is no indication that she is incarcerated. Nor has she signed any of the documents submitted by petitioner Garrett. Therefore, the Court shall construe this action as having been brought by petitioner Garrett alone, and the designation of "petitioner" in this Order shall refer only to Mr. Garrett, unless specified otherwise. Furthermore, because Ms. McClain herself has not taken any affirmative steps to participate in this lawsuit, and because petitioner Garrett may have added her name to the petition without her consent, Ms. McClain shall not be assessed a separate filing fee for this action.

The instant habeas petition states that petitioner is a state prisoner, serving a sentence after having been convicted in 2007 of a crime in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois (Doc. 1, p. 1). Petitioner used only the first page of this Court's form petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. The subsequent eight pages of his petition consist of handwritten rambling statements and lists of legal phrases. Page 2 appears to list in part some of petitioner's prior arrests and/or criminal charges, some dating back to 1981. Pages 3-5 set forth a partial list of 108 complaints or lawsuits petitioner may have filed in other courts.[1] On page 6, he states, "Barack Obama, can answer... these 108 complaints, answer one-by-one separate for $500.00 each complaints [sic]... you have 6-month to answer the complaints and deny any one or all... or Default Judgment will be enter[ed] against you for $500.00 each complaint[.]" Page 8 is addressed to the Clerk of Court, and states, "I am sending you half of my complaints, because the other half will go to another court...."

The petition does not contain any discernible prayer for relief other than the above references to money judgments.


Rule 4 of the Rules Governing § 2254 Cases in United States District Courts provides that upon preliminary consideration by the district court judge, "[i]f it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court, the judge must dismiss the petition and direct the clerk to notify the petitioner." Rule 1(b) of those Rules gives this Court the authority to apply the rules to other habeas corpus cases. After carefully reviewing the petition in the present case, the Court concludes that petitioner is not entitled to relief, and the petition must be dismissed.

First, the petition does not present any facts or circumstances to suggest that petitioner might be entitled to relief under § 2241. Petitioner is not in custody as a result of the order of a federal court or for a violation of federal law. See 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(1), (2). Nor is he a state pre-trial detainee seeking relief on the basis that he is being held in violation of the Constitution or federal law. See Neville v. Cavanagh, 611 F.2d 673, 674 (7th Cir. 1979) ("federal courts in certain instances have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3)" to grant writ to pre-trial detainee in state custody; citing Braden v. 30th Judicial Circuit Court of Kentucky, 410 U.S. 484 (1973)). Petitioner does not suggest that his current custody, which is pursuant to a state court judgment, violates the Constitution or federal law in any way. For these reasons, § 2241 is not an appropriate vehicle for petitioner to seek relief.

Turning to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, which authorizes habeas corpus relief for a prisoner (such as petitioner) who is held pursuant to the judgment of a state court, the instant petition fails to suggest that petitioner is entitled to release from custody under that statute. The undersigned Judge recently considered and dismissed petitioner's habeas action that he filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 ( Garrett v. Warden, et al., Case No. 13-cv-1082-DRH). The Court concluded that Case No. 13-cv-1082-DRH appeared to be an unauthorized successive habeas action. The same would be true if the instant petition were to be construed as having been brought under § 2254. This Court also observed that petitioner's § 2254 action in Case No. 13-cv-1082-DRH was duplicative of an earlier § 2254 habeas action petitioner filed in the Northern District of Illinois. The Northern District case, Garrett v. Gaetz, Case No. 11-cv-7301 (N.D. Ill., filed Oct. 14, 2011), is still under consideration in that court.

For the above reasons, the instant petition fails to state any grounds for relief, and shall be dismissed with prejudice.


Petitioner did not pay the $5.00 filing fee for this case when he submitted the petition, nor did he file a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP"). The Clerk of Court directed petitioner to either pay the fee or submit his IFP motion within 30 days (by November 18, 2013). To date, petitioner has not filed a complete IFP motion, but he did submit records from his prison trust fund account (Doc. 3), as well as two letters and accompanying documents in response to the Clerk's letter regarding the filing fee (Docs. 4 and 5). Because petitioner indicates in both letters that he cannot afford to pay the $5.00 filing fee, the Court shall construe these ...

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