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Feather-Gorbey v. State

United States District Court, D. Maryland

April 5, 2019

MICHAEL S. OWL FEATHER-GORBEY Petitioner
v.
STATE OF MARYLAND Respondent

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          RICHARD D. BENNETT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 was received by this Court on March 13, 2019. Self-represented Petitioner Michael Gorbey, an inmate committed to the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons and incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Maryland, following his criminal conviction in the District of Columbia, seeks to challenge the validity of his transfer across State lines into the State of Maryland. ECF 1. In essence, he is asserting that § 24-201.26 of the D.C. Code is unconstitutional and otherwise illegal. Id. Gorbey raises six grounds for relief:

1. D.C. State Prisoners have no avenue of relief in D.C. Federal Courts or directly to other Federal Courts.
2. Transporting or extraditing of State prisoners across State lines resorts (sic) in the same constitutional violations, due process, equal protection of law.
3. D.C. Superior Court prisoners are State prisoners entitle[d] to State law review.
4. D.C. State Code or laws have no binding effect on the State of Maryland.
5. Under Maryland and Federal law D.C. Code § 24.201.26 allowing D.C. State prisoners to be transported or extradited across state lines is illegal and unconstitutional making those prisoners fugitives from justice entitling them to Maryland State habeas relief.
6. Transporting or extraditing D.C. State prisoners outside of D.C. territorial jurisdiction gives them irrevocable asylum in the receiving State.

ECF 1 at p. 3.

         The majority of the 17 page petition contains Gorbey's legal argument and conclusions regarding whether his incarceration in a federal prison in Maryland confers on him the right to seek habeas relief in the Maryland courts. Gorbey relies on his legal theories to conclude that the Maryland state courts improperly summarily dismissed his habeas corpus petitions because his remedy is appropriately sought in the District of Columbia courts. ECF 1 at pp. 11-12. Gorbey denies that he has an available remedy in the D.C. courts and seeks an order remanding his habeas petition to the Maryland State Circuit Courts where they were dismissed. Id. at p. 12. Gorbey also seeks immediate release from custody, "irrevocable asylum in the State of Maryland," and a hearing. Id.

         The petition must be dismissed. Gorbey's entire claim is premised on his assertion he is in the custody of the State of Maryland; he is not. It is well settled law that defendants convicted of criminal offenses in the D.C. courts are in the legal custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. As the Fourth Circuit observed:

District of Columbia offenders ... are placed in the BOP's custody by statutory authority, not as a matter of convenience. Section 24-201.26 of the D.C. Code provides that '[a] 11 prisoners convicted in the District of Columbia for any offense ... shall be committed. .. to the custody of the Attorney General of the United States or his authorized representative, who shall designate the places of confinements where the sentences of all such persons shall be served.' D.C. Code §24-201.26.
Congress' enactment of the National Capital Revitalization and Self Government Improvement Act of 1997, 111 Stat. 251; Pub.L. 105-33, (the "Revitalization Act") confirms to us that D.C. Code § 24-201.26 places D.C. offenders into the legal custody of the Attorney General for the duration of his sentence, no matter where the prisoner may be housed. The Revitalization Act effectively closed the District of Columbia Department of Corrections and "transferred [all D.C. felons] to a penal or correctional facility operated or contracted for by the Bureau of Prisons." D.C. Code § 24-101(b). Not only did the Revitalization Act place D.C. offenders in the physical custody of the BOP, but by further "subject[ing] [D.C. offenders] to any law or regulation applicable to persons committed forviolations of laws of the United States consistent with the sentence imposed, and [by ...

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