United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
April 17, 2015
WARDELL FORD, Petitioner,
RANDALL HAAS, Respondent.
OPINION AND ORDER TRANSFERRING CASE TO THE COURT OF APPEALS PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(3)(A)
JOHN CORBETT O'MEARA, District Judge.
Wardell Ford, ("petitioner"), presently confined at the Macomb Correctional Facility in New Haven, Michigan, filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. In his application, filed pro se, petitioner challenges his 1991 conviction for first degree murder, M.C.L.A. 750.316; armed robbery, M.C.L.A. 750.529; and felony-firearm, M.C.L.A. 750.227b. Petitioner has previously filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus challenging this conviction. The petition was denied on the merits. Ford v. Curtis, U.S.D.C. 98-CV-75037-DT (E.D. Mich. December 15, 1999)(Cleland, J.); aff'd. 277 F.3d 806 (6th Cir. 2002); cert. den. 537 U.S. 846 (2002). For the following reasons, the Court transfers this case to the Court of Appeals pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(3)(A).
An individual seeking to file a second or successive habeas petition must first ask the appropriate court of appeals for an order authorizing the district court to consider the petition. See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(3)(A); Stewart v. Martinez-Villareal, 523 U.S. 637, 641 (1998). Congress has vested in the court of appeals a screening function that the district court would have performed otherwise. Felker v. Turpin, 518 U.S. 651, 664 (1996). Under the provisions of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), a federal district court does not have jurisdiction to entertain a successive post-conviction motion or petition for writ of habeas corpus in the absence of an order from the court of appeals authorizing the filing of such a successive motion or petition. Hervey v. United States, 105 F.Supp.2d 731, 735 (E.D. Mich. 2000)(citing Ferrazza v. Tessmer, 36 F.Supp.2d 965, 971 (E.D. Mich. 1999)). Unless the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has given its approval for the filing of a second or successive petition, a district court in the Sixth Circuit must transfer the petition to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals no matter how meritorious the district court believes the claim to be. Id. at 735-36; See also In Re Sims, 111 F.3d 45, 47 (6th Cir. 1997).
Petitioner previously filed a habeas petition with the federal courts. Although petitioner would not have been required to obtain a certificate of authorization following the dismissal of his petition if it had been dismissed without prejudice on exhaustion grounds, See Harris v. Stovall, 22 F.Supp.2d 659, 664 (E.D. Mich. 1998), petitioner's first habeas petition was dismissed on the merits. Petitioner's current habeas petition is a second or successive petition for a writ of habeas corpus and he is therefore required to obtain a certificate of authorization.
Accordingly, the Clerk of Court is ordered to transfer the habeas petition to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit pursuant to Sims and 28 U.S.C. § 1631. See Galka v. Caruso, 599 F.Supp.2d 854, 857 (E.D. Mich. 2009). Although neither party raised the issue of this being a second or successive petition, it is appropriate for this Court to consider the issue sua sponte because subject matter jurisdiction goes to the power of the courts to render decisions under Article III of the Constitution. See Williams v. Stegall, 945 F.Supp. 145, 146 (E.D. Mich. 1996). Because this appears to be a second or successive habeas petition, it would be error for this Court to dismiss the petition as being time barred, rather than transfer it to the Sixth Circuit, because such a timeliness inquiry would be premature prior to any determination by the Sixth Circuit whether petitioner should be given authorization pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(3)(A) to file a successive habeas petition. See In Re McDonald, 514 F.3d 539, 543-44 (6th Cir. 2008).
Petitioner has not obtained the appellate authorization to file a subsequent petition as required by 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(3)(A). Accordingly, the Court ORDERS the Clerk of the Court to transfer this case to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1631 and In Re Sims, 111 F.3d 45, 47 (6th Cir. 1997).