United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
VICTOR G. HALL, Petitioner,
VERMONT DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS et al., Respondents.
J. JONKER, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
a habeas corpus action brought by a prisoner of the State of
Vermont under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Promptly after the filing of
a petition for habeas corpus, the Court must undertake a
preliminary review of the petition to determine whether
“it plainly appears from the face of the petition and
any exhibits annexed to it that the petitioner is not
entitled to relief in the district court.” Rule 4,
Rules Governing § 2254 Cases; see 28 U.S.C.
§ 2243. If so, the petition must be summarily dismissed.
Rule 4; see Allen v. Perini, 424 F.2d 134, 141 (6th
Cir. 1970) (district court has the duty to “screen
out” petitions that lack merit on their face). A
dismissal under Rule 4 includes those petitions which raise
legally frivolous claims, as well as those containing factual
allegations that are palpably incredible or false. Carson
v. Burke, 178 F.3d 434, 436-37 (6th Cir. 1999). After
undertaking the review required by Rule 4, the Court
concludes that the petition must be dismissed because it
fails to raise a meritorious federal claim.
Victor G. Hall presently is incarcerated at the North Lake
Correctional Facility in Baldwin, Michigan, which is a
private prison operated by the GEO Group. Petitioner pleaded
guilty in the Vermont Superior Court, Chittenden Criminal
Division, to two counts of aggravated sexual assault. On
November 26, 2007, Petitioner was sentenced to prison terms
of 10 to 50 years.
filed an appeal to the Vermont Supreme Court, claiming the
following: (1) his attorney rendered ineffective assistance;
(2) his plea was involuntary; and (3) he was actually
innocent of the offense. The Vermont Supreme Court denied his
claims and affirmed his convictions on November 5, 2008. He
alleges that he filed a motion for postconviction relief in
the Vermont Superior Court in the fall of 2009, in which he
raised the same issues presented on direct appeal. The motion
allegedly was not decided until January 2013, when it was
Petitioner continues to claim that he is actually innocent
and that he was forced to plead guilty because his attorney
utterly failed to prepare a defense, he does not challenge
his convictions or sentences in his habeas petition. Instead,
Petitioner argues that Vermont lacked jurisdiction to
transfer him out of state to a private prison, operated by
the GEO Group, to serve his sentence. He contends that,
because his transfer to a private prison in Michigan was
without jurisdiction, Vermont lost all jurisdiction to hold
him. Moreover, because the GEO Group is closing its doors on
June 20, 2017, Petitioner knows that he is being transferred
out of the facility shortly. He therefore seeks an injunction
preventing Vermont from transferring him to another state, on
the grounds that it now lacks jurisdiction. He also seeks
immediate release from incarceration, as his continuing
custody can no longer be enforced by Vermont, because of the
break in legal custody. In support of his position,
Petitioner attaches an article he wrote on the illegality of
Vermont's use of out-of-state private prisons to house
its state prisoners.
extent that Petitioner alleges that he has been deprived of
due process by his transfer out of state, his claim is
meritless. The courts repeatedly have held that an inmate
does not have a liberty interest in assignment to a
particular institution, even one situated out of state.
Olim v. Wakinekona, 461 U.S. 238, 245 (1983)
(addressing a challenged transfer from Hawaii to California);
Meachum v. Fano, 427 U.S. 215, 224-25 (1976);
Montanye v. Haymes, 427 U.S. 236, 243 (1976);
Moody v. Daggett, 429 U.S. 78, 88 n. 9 (1976);
Newell v. Brown, 981 F.2d 880, 883 (6th Cir. 1992);
Beard v. Livesay, 798 F.2d 874, 876 (6th Cir.1986).
Therefore, because he has no liberty interest in his
placement, Petitioner does not have a due process interest in
his placement out of state.
addition, to the extent that Petitioner argues that Vermont
law does not permit the Vermont Department of Corrections to
transfer him an out-of-state private prison, he fails to
state a cognizable federal claim. “[A] federal court
may issue the writ to a state prisoner ‘only on the
ground that he is in custody in violation of the Constitution
or laws or treaties of the United States.'”
Wilson v. Corcoran, 562 U.S. 1, 5 (2010) (quoting 28
U.S.C. § 2254(a)). A habeas petition must “state
facts that point to a ‘real possibility of
constitutional error.'” Blackledge v.
Allison, 431 U.S. 63, 75 n.7 (1977) (quoting Advisory
Committee Notes on Rule 4, Rules Governing Habeas Corpus
Cases). The federal courts have no power to intervene on the
basis of a perceived error of state law. Wilson, 562
U.S. at 5; Bradshaw v. Richey, 546 U.S. 74, 76
(2005); Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 67-68 (1991);
Pulley v. Harris, 465 U.S. 37, 41 (1984).
federal courts have consistently upheld transfers of inmates
to private, out-of-state facilities. See Moran v.
Sondalle, 218 F.3d 647, 651 (7th Cir. 2000) (holding
that an “objection to transfer to privately run,
out-of-state prisons would be frivolous”); Montez
v. McKinna, 208 F.3d 862, 866 (10th Cir. 2000)
(rejecting challenge to such transfer as “unsupported
by law”); see also Abordo v. O'Dell, 23 F.
App'x 615, 616 (8th Cir. 2001); Rael v.
Williams, 223 F.3d 1153, 1154 (10th Cir. 2000) (holding
that the fact that an inmate is transferred to, or must
reside in, a private prison, simply does not raise a federal
constitutional claim); Pischke v. Litscher, 178 F.3d
497, 500 (7th Cir. 1999) (rejecting claim that transfer to an
out-of-state, private prison violates the federal
constitution). For the reasons set forth in the cited cases,
the Court rejects Petitioner's argument.
Petitioner's assertion that the State of Vermont lost
jurisdiction over him when it transferred him to a facility
out of state arises out of “a popular myth among
prisoners that a state's authority over a prisoner ends
at the state's geographical border.” Evans v.
Holm, 114 F.Supp.2d 706, 711 (W.D. Tenn. 2000). The
theory that a state's jurisdiction over a convicted
prisoner is lost once the prisoner has been transferred to a
private, out-of-state prison has been rejected by every court
that has considered the question. See, e.g., Montez,
208 F.3d 866; Abordo, 23 F. App'x at 616;
Evans, 114 at 711 (citing numerous cases); see
also Turner v. Riley, No. CV-06-0065-CG-C, 2006 WL
1452693, at *5 (S.D. Ala. May 22, 2006) (citing
Evans, 114 F.Supp.2d at 713); Payne v.
Allen, No. 08-0795, 2009 WL 1546362 (W.D. La. June 1,
2009); Mills v. Alabama, 12 So.3d 718, 719-20
(Ala.Crim.App.2007). Petitioner's claim, therefore, will
be denied as meritless.
pending before the Court are Petitioner's motion to
appoint counsel (ECF No. 2) and motion for preliminary
injunctive relief (ECF No. 3). In light of the Court's
disposition of Petitioner's ...