United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Norfolk Division
WILLIAM SCOTT DAVIS JR., No. 84944-083, Petitioner,
JEFFERSON SESSIONS, U.S. Attorney General, et al., Respondents.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
DOUGLAS E. MILLER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
William Scott Davis originally filed a petition for a writ of
habeas corpus (Case No. 2:17cv514) on September 22, 2017,
while incarcerated at Piedmont Regional Jail in Farmville,
Virginia. He was, at that time, awaiting trial in
the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North
Carolina on charges related to cyberstalking and
communicating threats by interstate and foreign means. He
brought that Petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2241, challenging
both the fact of his detention and the conditions of that
detention. Pet. (ECF No. 1). On February 23, 2018, Davis filed
a second Petition (Case No. 2:18cvl04) alleging substantially
similar claims. On March 22, 2018, Davis was convicted on
charges of threatening communications. See J. Order,
United States v. Davis, No. 5:14-cr-240 (E.D. N.C.
Mar. 29, 2018) . He was then transferred to a federal prison
in Maryland to serve the 12-year prison term included in his
sentence. See Resp't's Mem. at 6 (ECF No.
60). Following his conviction, Davis sought to consolidate
both his habeas cases and transfer the consolidated case to
Maryland. See Pet.'s Mot. (ECF No. 54 in Case
No. 2:17cv514); Pet.' s Mot. (ECF No. 16 in Case No.
2:18cvl04). Both cases have been referred to the undersigned
Magistrate Judge pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C.
§ 636. Due to the entry of judgment on his conviction
and his transfer to a prison in Maryland, the Respondent
argues Davis' petitions should be dismissed for lack of
jurisdiction. Resp't's Mem. at 8-14 (ECF No. 60).
the various pleadings in the two cases allege substantially
similar, related claims for relief, the court should GRANT
the Motions to Consolidate (ECF No. 54 in Case No.
2:17cv514); Pet.' s Mot. (ECF No. 16 in Case No.
2:18cvl04) and DIRECT the Clerk to consolidate the two cases
under Case Number 2:17cv514. For the reasons explained below,
the undersigned also recommends that the court DISMISS AS
MOOT all claims in the consolidated case.
total, Davis has filed dozens of submissions in his two
habeas cases which vary in clarity. Generally, however, his
Petitions argue he received ineffective assistance of counsel
from the attorney appointed to represent him during his
initial detention hearing in Norfolk, Virginia. Pet. (p. 6 to ECF
No. 1) . He also claims a search warrant issued in October
2007 in Newport News, Virginia, was overly broad and
"maliciously procured." Id. at 7. He
further claims he suffered ineffective assistance of counsel
and prosecutorial misconduct during a criminal case in Wake
County, North Carolina, in 2007. Id. His fourth
claimed violation was that evidence against him in the case
in which he was awaiting trial was fabricated. Id.
at 8 In a Supplemental Petition in Case No. 2:17cv514 (pp.
6-7 to ECF No. 22), he first alleges the jail staff violated
his constitutional rights by subjecting him to adverse
conditions of confinement. Among other, less specific
complaints, he asserts that the jail failed to protect him
from attacks by other inmates, failed to give him proper
medical care, read his legal mail, denied him access to legal
resources, and retaliated against him for complaining about
these conditions. His second claim in the Amended Petition
seems to duplicate claims made in the original Petition.
See id. at 7. He also appears to claim conflicts of
interest in the federal trial judge that resulted in a
deprivation of due process and in his trial lawyer that
resulted in ineffective assistance of counsel. Id.
Finally, he claims Brady violations by the
prosecutors in his federal trial. Id. at 8.
Petition filed in Case No. 2:18cvl04, in his first asserted
Ground for Relief, he seems to allege that the attorney
prosecuting him in the Eastern District of North Carolina had
a conflict of interest in the case for which she should have
been disqualified and also that she failed to disclose
evidence in violation of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S.
83, 87 (1963). Pet. at 8 (p. 7 to ECF No. 1 in No.
2:18cvl04). In his second Ground for Relief, he makes a claim
about deficiencies in a prior case in the Juvenile and
Domestic Relations Court for the City of Hampton, Virginia,
to which he was a party. Id. In his third Ground for
Relief, he apparently alleges that the officials at Piedmont
Regional Jail acted negligently and violated his rights to
due process by not protecting him from other inmates.
Id. Finally, in his fourth asserted Ground for
relief, he presents an ineffective assistance of counsel
claim against his trial attorney in the underlying criminal
case in the Eastern District of North Carolina. Pet. at 9 (p.
8 to ECF No. 1 in No. 2:18cvl04).
first Petition Davis filed, he seeks to be released from
pre-trial detention and to be appointed counsel. Pet. (p. 8
to ECF No. 1) . In the Supplemental Petition, he seeks an
arrest of the Eastern District of North Carolina's
judgment due to lack of jurisdiction; release from
confinement; and injunctive relief to cure the claimed
constitutional violations he has suffered from the conditions
of his confinement. Supp. Pet. (pp. 8-9 to ECF No. 22). The
relief he seeks in his Petition filed in Case No. 2:18cvl04
includes appointment of counsel, transfer of the case to the
District of Columbia, production to him of various pieces of
evidence, dismissal of the charges he was convicted on in
North Carolina, and release from confinement. Pet. (pp. 8-9
to ECF No. 1 in No. 2:18cvl04).
clearly as the court can discern them, Davis asserts two
kinds of claims, distinguished by the form of relief sought.
First, he challenges the fact of his pretrial detention and
alleges constitutional violations in the proceedings that led
to it and seeks to be released as a remedy. Second, he
challenges certain conditions of his detention at Piedmont
Regional Jail and seeks injunctive relief as a remedy. The
undersigned will address these categories in turn.
Claims to be redressed by release from
for a writ of habeas corpus who are pretrial detainees must
seek relief through § 2241. That section provides a
remedy for any person held in violation of the Constitution,
laws, or treaties of the United States "regardless of
whether a final judgment has been rendered and regardless of
the status of the case pending against him."
Dickerson v. Louisiana, 816 F.2d 220, 224 (5th Cir.
1987); see 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3); see also
Thomas v. Crosby, 371 F.3d 782, 786 (11th Cir. 2004)
(§ 2241 applies to individuals in pretrial detention);
Williams v. Dep't of Corr., No. 5:14-CT-2200-BO,
2015 WL 10910480, at *2 (E.D. N.C. June 1, 2015) (same).
the entry of a criminal judgment directing incarceration,
however, a prisoner's proper mechanism to seek relief is
a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence under
28 U.S.C. § 2255 ("A prisoner in custody under
sentence of a court established by Act of Congress claiming
the right to be released upon the ground that the sentence
was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the
United States, or that the court was without jurisdiction to
impose such sentence, or that the sentence was in excess of
the maximum authorized by law, or is otherwise subject to
collateral attack, may move the court which imposed the
sentence to vacate, set aside or correct the
sentence."). In Roberts v. Lewis, the court
dismissed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus because,
although the petitioner had originally brought it properly
under § 2241 to grieve the fact of his pre-trial
detention, the petitioner was convicted and sentenced during
the pendency of the petition. No. CV 2:17-453-RMG, 2017 WL
4792217, at *1 (D.S.C. Oct. 23, 2017). Because "[c]laims
for habeas relief from pretrial detention are mooted by a
subsequent conviction and sentence," the § 2241
petition no longer presented a justiciable controversy,
removing the case from the court's jurisdiction.
Id. (citing Genesis Healthcare Corp. v.
Symczyk/ 569 U.S. 66, 72 (2013); Yohey v.
Collins, 985 F.2d 222, 229 (5th Cir. 1993)).
here, Davis was in detention in the Eastern District of
Virginia awaiting trial in the North Carolina criminal
proceedings when he originally filed the original and
supplemental petitions. He has since been convicted and
sentenced in the case for which he was detained awaiting
trial. To the extent he grieves the fact of his conviction or
his sentence, that grievance must take the form of a motion
under § 2255. Davis still has the opportunity to make
such a motion in the court where he was convicted and
sentenced. See Order, Davis v. United
States, No. 5:14-CR-240, slip op. (E.D. N.C. May 31,
2018) (E.D. N.C. Dkt. No. 923) (dismissing Davis'
premature § 2255 motion without prejudice in order to
permit direct review by Court of Appeals) . He may therefore
file such a motion in the Eastern District of North Carolina
at the appropriate time if he wishes.
Respondent prudently includes an argument that, even if
Davis' petition were considered against the "savings
clause" of § 2255, it would fail. Section 2241 can
be an appropriate vehicle to challenge the fact of a
conviction and sentence when a motion under § 2255 is an
"inadequate or ineffective test to the legality of
detention." 28 U.S.C. § 2255. As noted above, the
District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina
explicitly dismissed his previous § 2255 motion
without prejudice, so Davis can still pursue relief
for the fact of his incarceration in that court. Because a
motion under § 2255 remains available to Davis, it is an
adequate and effective vehicle for resolving any challenges
to his North Carolina conviction which he sought to remedy
through the Petitions brought in this court under §
2241. Therefore, the savings clause will not operate to give
this court jurisdiction over Davis' claims challenging
the procedures that resulted in his conviction in North
Davis' challenges to his pre-trial detention have been
mooted, and because this court lacks jurisdiction to consider
his claims related to the fact of his conviction and
sentence, the portion ...