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Moody v. Warden Holman CF

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

April 18, 2018

WALTER LEROY MOODY, JR., Petitioner - Appellant,
v.
WARDEN HOLMAN CF, Respondent - Appellee.

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama D.C. Docket No. 1:18-cv-00063-CG-B

          Before WILSON, MARTIN, and JORDAN, Circuit Judges.

          JORDAN, CIRCUIT JUDGE:

         Walter Leroy Moody, Jr. faces execution on April 19, 2018, in Alabama for the 1989 murder of Eleventh Circuit Judge Robert Vance. After the Alabama Supreme Court set an execution date, Mr. Moody filed a counseled petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. He named the warden of the Alabama facility where he is currently incarcerated as the respondent, and asserted in two related claims that under federal law Alabama cannot legally carry out his scheduled execution. He argued that before Alabama can put him to death, he must first be returned to the custody of the United States to serve federal sentences of life imprisonment which had been imposed on him at an earlier time. If Mr. Moody is correct, Alabama will never be able to execute him because he will die in federal prison.

         The district court ruled that Mr. Moody lacked Article III standing and that he failed to obtain Eleventh Circuit authorization for his second claim, which amounted to an unauthorized second or successive habeas corpus petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(2)-(3). It therefore dismissed his case without prejudice. When Mr. Moody appealed, we expedited briefing and invited the United States to present its views. We heard oral argument on April 12, 2018.

         We affirm the dismissal of Mr. Moody's § 2241 petition, but on different grounds. We conclude that Mr. Moody has standing, and that his second claim does not constitute an unauthorized second or successive § 2254 petition. We also hold, however, that Mr. Moody's claims fail on the merits, and we remand the case to the district court with instructions to enter a judgment dismissing those claims with prejudice.[1]

         I

         In December of 1989, Mr. Moody mailed four package bombs to locations in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. Two of those bombs detonated, killing United States Circuit Judge Robert Vance at his home in Alabama and civil rights attorney Robert Robinson at his office in Georgia.

         A federal jury convicted Mr. Moody of 71 charges related to the bombings, and the district court sentenced him in August of 1991 to seven consecutive terms of life imprisonment and a concurrent term of 400 years. The district court remanded Mr. Moody "to the custody of the United States Marshal, " D.E. 1, Exh. A at 3, and he was incarcerated at the United States Penitentiary in Marion, Illinois. His federal convictions and sentences were affirmed on direct appeal. See United States v. Moody, 977 F.2d 1425 (11th Cir. 1992).

         After the federal proceedings, a grand jury in Jefferson County, Alabama, indicted Mr. Moody for the murder of Judge Vance and the injuries sustained in the explosion by his wife, Helen Vance. To secure custody of Mr. Moody for prosecution in Alabama, a state circuit court issued a writ of habeas corpus ad prosequendum on February 17, 1992. That writ ordered the United States Marshal and the Sheriff of Jefferson County to "produce the body of" Mr. Moody before the court for a hearing, and for a trial then scheduled for May 4, 1992. See D.E. 1, Exh. B. The writ also contemplated that Alabama authorities would return Mr. Moody to federal custody once the state proceedings were over. It stated that "at the conclusion of said hearing the body of . . . [Mr.] Moody . . . be returned to the custody of the United States Marshal in the U.S. Penitentiary, Marion, Illinois, all in accordance with the regulations and directions of the United States Marshal." Id. Several days later, the writ was executed and Mr. Moody was brought from Marion to Jefferson County.

         An Alabama jury found Mr. Moody guilty of capital murder and assault, and in February of 1997 the trial court sentenced him to death for Judge Vance's murder. In December of 1998 the United States Marshal for the Southern District of Alabama filed a detainer with the Alabama Department of Corrections. The detainer acknowledged that Mr. Moody was in Alabama custody and requested as follows: "Prior to [Mr. Moody's] release from your custody, please notify this office at once so that we may assume custody of [him] for service of his Federal sentence of imprisonment." D.E. 1, Exh. G. The detainer also stated that "[t]he notice and speedy trial requirements of the Interstate Agreement on Detainers Act do NOT apply to this [d]etainer." Id. The Alabama Department of Corrections acknowledged receipt of the federal detainer on December 22, 1998. The detainer did not request that Mr. Moody be transferred to federal custody once his state court proceedings were completed.

         Mr. Moody appealed his state convictions and sentences, but the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed. See Moody v. State, 888 So.2d 532 (Ala.Crim.App.2003), writ denied, 888 So.2d 605 (Ala. 2004). After pursuing state post-conviction remedies, Mr. Moody sought federal habeas corpus relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The district court denied Mr. Moody's § 2254 petition, and we affirmed. See Moody v. Commissioner, 682 Fed.Appx. 802 (11th Cir. 2017).

         Mr. Moody has been on death row at Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Alabama, for the last 20 years. He has never been returned to the United States Penitentiary in Marion, Illinois. In this court, the United States has stated- in writing and at oral argument-that it has no objection to Alabama maintaining custody of Mr. Moody for the purpose of carrying out the death sentence.

         II

         Mr. Moody argues on appeal that he is entitled to habeas relief under § 2241 because Alabama's wrongful retention of him violates the writ of habeas corpus ad prosequendum (through which he was transferred to Alabama for prosecution), federal law, and his constitutional right to due process. See Petition at 6-11. He relies on 28 C.F.R § 527.31(c), which provides that a state requesting transfer of a federal prisoner pursuant to a writ of habeas corpus ad prosequendum must state in its request that it "will return the inmate to [federal] custody promptly on conclusion of the inmate's appearance in the state or local proceeding for which the writ is issued." See also 4B U.S. Op. Off. Legal Counsel 719, 728, 1980 WL 20978 (1980) (explaining that "[a] non-IAD agreement to transfer custody to a state for purposes of prosecution should include all legally available safeguards of both the prisoner's and the government's interests"). He also contends that he is serving his federal sentences in a designated state facility, and that, as a result, Alabama cannot execute him until his federal sentences of life imprisonment are completed. See 18 U.S.C. § 3621(a) ("A person who has been sentenced to a [federal] term of imprisonment . . . shall be committed to the custody of the Bureau of Prisons until the expiration of the term imposed, or until earlier released for satisfactory behavior pursuant to the provisions of [18 U.S.C. §] 3624.").

         Our review of Mr. Moody's § 2241 claims is de novo. See, e.g., Williamson v. Fla. Dep't of Corr., 805 F.3d 1009, 1016 (11th Cir. 2015); Santiago-Lugo v. Warden, 785 F.3d 467, 471 (11th Cir. 2015). The same plenary standard of review governs two questions antecedent to the merits: whether Mr. Moody has standing, and whether his second claim constitutes an unauthorized second or successive § 2254 petition. See CAMP Legal Def. Fund, Inc. v. City of Atlanta, 451 F.3d ...


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