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Hellemss v. USA

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

June 25, 2019

ROMAN DEONN-HELLEMS, [1] also known as ROMAN DEONN HELLEMS TRUST, also known as ROMAN HELLEMS, Petitioner,



         Plaintiff Roman Hellems, an inmate in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) currently incarcerated in the Federal Correctional Institution in Greenville, Illinois (“FCI-Greenville”), filed a self-styled “Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus Pursuant to Both 28 U.S.C. Section 2241 and the Mandamus Act 28 U.S.C. Section 1361 (1962).” (Doc. 1). The title of the Petition suggests that Hellems is pursuing habeas relief under Section 2241 and mandamus relief under Section 1361. Hellems recently clarified that he only seeks relief under Section 2241.[2]

         The Section 2241 Petition is now before the Court for preliminary review. Rule 4 of the Federal Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in United States District Courts provides that upon preliminary consideration by the district 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) gives this Court the authority to apply the rules to other habeas corpus cases. For the reasons set forth below, the Section 2241 Petition shall be dismissed.


         Hellems filed this Section 2241 Petition on April 22, 2019. (Doc. 1, pp. 1-24). It is organized into twenty-four separate “facts.” These “facts” consist of challenges to his conviction and sentence, complaints about the conditions of his confinement, claims of interference with his access to the courts, requests for various documents, and prayers for declaratory and injunctive relief. Conspicuously absent from the Section 2241 Petition is a request for release from confinement. (Id.).

         Generously construed, Hellems brings a challenge to his conviction and sentence in United States v. Hellems, No. 4:15-cr-00141-JAJ (S.D. Iowa). On May 3, 2017, Hellems was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm and sentenced to 120 months of incarceration. See id. His appeal was rejected on August 4, 2017. United States v. Hellems, 866 F.3d 856 (8th Cir. 2017). His Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 also was denied on February 14, 2019. Hellems, v. United States, No. 4:18-cv-0294-JAJ (S.D. Iowa).

         But instead of setting forth the reasons he may be entitled to habeas relief, Hellems complains about various conditions of his confinement. (Doc. 1, pp. 1-24). He describes a humiliating strip search, confiscation of his personal property, loss of commissary privileges, interference with his legal mail, and denial of his access to the courts, among other things. (See Facts ##1-19). He requests relief related to these conditions, including declaratory and injunctive relief, targeting the interference with his mail, his ongoing requests for access to documents, and his attempt to settle various disputes with prison officials. (See Facts ##20-25).


         A. Section 2241 Petition

         The Section 2241 Petition does not survive preliminary review for numerous reasons, the most significant of which are discussed below.

         Hellems filed this habeas action on behalf of himself and several co-petitioners. But he cannot bring a petition for habeas relief on behalf of other petitioners. This includes Sacorey Lennel Clark, who is listed among the petitioners involved in this matter. Clark did not sign the Section 2241 Petition and has not participated in this action; this individual filed a separate action in this District on the same date as Hellems. See Clark v. United States, et al., No. 19-cv-00440-NJR (S.D. Ill. Apr. 22, 2019). Hellems cannot sign or file unsigned papers on behalf of another litigant. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 11; Lewis v. Lenc-Smith Mfg. Co., 784 F.2d 829, 831 (7th Cir. 1986) (non-attorney cannot file or sign papers for another litigant). Hellems also named one or more trusts as co-petitioners. (See Doc. 1, p. 1; Doc. 5, p. 2) (clarifying that trusts were intended to be co-petitioners). But the writ of habeas corpus extends to a “prisoner” and only under limited circumstances. See 28 U.S.C. § 2241 (describing those few circumstances when the writ of habeas corpus extends to a “prisoner”). A trust is not a “prisoner” under Section 2241.

         Hellems also did not name the proper respondent. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 2242, 2243 (“The writ, or order to show cause shall be directed to the person having custody of the person detained.”). This is generally the person who has the ability to produce the petitioner to the habeas court- typically the warden of the facility where the petitioner is detained. Rumsfeld v. Padilla, 542 U.S. 426 (2004). Hellems does not name the warden of FCI-Greenville among the respondents. He instead lists the United States, the United States Department of Justice, the City of Greenville, and six unknown individuals as respondents.[3]

         Moreover, Section 2241 entitles him to no relief. A federally convicted person generally challenges his conviction and sentence by bringing a motion pursuant to Section 2255 in the court that sentenced him, and this is usually the “exclusive means for a federal prisoner to attack his conviction.” Kramer v. Olson, 347 F.3d 214, 217 (7th Cir. 2003). Section 2255 limits a prisoner to one challenge of his conviction and sentence. Hellems has already pursued relief unsuccessfully under Section 2255.

         He may not file a “second or successive” motion unless a panel of the appropriate court of appeals certifies that such motion contains either: (1) newly discovered evidence “sufficient to establish by clear and convincing evidence that no reasonable factfinder would have found the movant guilty of the offense;” or (2) “a new rule of constitutional law, made retroactive to cases on collateral review by the Supreme Court, that was previously unavailable.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(h). Under limited circumstances, a prisoner may challenge his federal conviction or sentence pursuant to Section 2241, when his case triggers application of the “savings clause” in Section 2255(e). This occurs when the remedy under Section 2255 is inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of his detention. In re Davenport, 147 F.3d 605, 611 (7th Cir. 1998).[4] Notably, however, Section 2255 is not considered inadequate or ineffective simply because a petitioner's ...

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