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Titlbach v. English

United States District Court, D. Kansas

March 8, 2019

RONALD TITLBACH, Petitioner,
v.
NICOLE ENGLISH, Warden, USP-Leavenworth, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          JOHN W. LUNGSTRUM, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is a pro se petition for habeas corpus filed under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. The Court has screened the Petition (Doc. 1) under Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Habeas Corpus Cases, foll. 28 U.S.C. § 2254, and dismisses the Petition as legally frivolous.

         Background

         On March 6, 2001, a jury found Petitioner guilty of federal drug violations. On December 19, 2002, he was sentenced to a term of life without the possibility of parole with a 10-year term of supervised release, and a concurrent 960-month sentence with a 12-year term of supervised release. Petitioner appealed, and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the life sentence and remanded the concurrent sentence to correct the sentence from 80 years to 60 years. On November 8, 2004, Petitioner filed a § 2255 motion, which was dismissed on December 4, 2006. Petitioner was denied a Certificate of Appealability.

         Petitioner brings the instant petition alleging that he has been falsely imprisoned for more than nineteen years, because although the district court had jurisdiction under Title 18 U.S.C. to prosecute and sentence him, the district court did not have jurisdiction to order him detained and imprisoned. Petitioner argues that because Public Law 80-772 was not properly enacted, his imprisonment is in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 4001 which states that “[n]o citizen shall be imprisoned or otherwise detained by the United States except pursuant to an Act of Congress.”

         Analysis

         The federal courts may issue a writ of habeas corpus only when the petitioner is “in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3). Under governing provisions, the Court must review habeas corpus petitions promptly and must summarily dismiss a petition “[i]f it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief . . . .” Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Habeas Corpus Cases, foll. 28 U.S.C. § 2254; see Id. at Rule 1(b) (allowing the district court to apply rules to petitions filed under other sections).

         Petitioner argues that Article 1, § 5, Clause 1 of the Constitution requires the presence of a majority of each house to be present before business can be conducted. He argues that H.R. 3190 was passed without a quorum in the House and forwarded to the Senate where it was passed with suggested amendments and became Public Law 80-772. Petitioner argues that the next day-June 20, 1948-a concurrent resolution (Joint Resolution 219) was passed stating that notwithstanding the adjournment of the two houses until December 31, 1948, the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate are authorized to sign enrolled bills and joint resolutions duly passed by the two houses and found truly enrolled. Petitioner argues that on that same day, the House concurred on the Senate's amendments to Public Law 80-772 and promptly adjourned without attending the signing of the bill. Petitioner argues there is no record of a quorum being present to concur on the Senate's amendments. Petitioner further argues that Joint Resolution 219 was not validly passed either, because Congress had adjourned on June 19, 1948, and was not in session when the resolution was allegedly passed on June 20th or when the bill was signed on June 25th.

         Section 3231 provides in pertinent part that “[t]he district courts of the United States shall have original jurisdiction, exclusive of the courts of the States, of all offenses against the laws of the United States.” 18 U.S.C. § 3231. Section 4001(a) provides that “[n]o citizen shall be imprisoned or otherwise detained by the United States except pursuant to an Act of Congress.” 18 U.S.C. § 4001(a). Petitioner attempts to angle his argument through 18 U.S.C. § 4001, presumably because arguments attacking § 3231 have been universally rejected as frivolous. See, e.g., United States v. Armijo, 314 Fed.Appx. 113, 114 (10th Cir. 2008) (unpublished) (finding contention that § 3231 was not validly enacted is meritless); Cheatham-Bey v. U.S. Dep't of Justice, 2008 WL 4951035, at * (D. Kan. Nov. 18, 2008) (where plaintiff alleged that Public Law 80-772, 18 U.S.C. § 3231, was never enacted into law, court held that claim was “patently frivolous” and has been uniformly rejected) (citations omitted).

         In United States v. Risquet, defendant argued that his conviction is invalid because the statute relied upon for district court subject-matter jurisdiction, 18 U.S.C. § 3231, never passed both houses of Congress in 1948 and is thus void. United States v. Risquet, 426 F.Supp.2d 310, 311 (E.D. Pa. 2006). Defendant argued that, “because of a defect in the 1948 passage of Public Law 80-772, § 3231 as well as all subsequently enacted statutes which rely upon § 3231 for district court jurisdiction are similarly invalid.” Id. The court in Risquet held that “[t]he 1948 amendment to § 3231 passed both houses of Congress and was signed into law by President Truman on June 25, 1948.” Id. The court noted that defendant “offered no legitimate case law to the contrary” and that the Supreme Court's “discussion and application of 18 U.S.C. § 3231 refute Defendant's assertions.” Id. (citations omitted). The court in Risquet also found that “[e]ven if the 1948 amendment to § 3231 were somehow defective, this court would retain jurisdiction over this case because the predecessor to § 3231, which Defendant does not challenge, provides for such jurisdiction as well.” Id. at 311-12.

         Despite Petitioner's acknowledgement that an argument for the invalidity of § 3231 is not viable, his argument nevertheless relies on a finding that Public Law 80-772 was not properly passed. Courts have refused to make such a finding. In Cardenas-Celestino v. United States, defendant argued that Public Law 80-772 was not properly passed because “a different bill was passed by the Senate than that passed by the House of Representatives; that the bill signed into law was never ratified; and that Congress was adjourned when the bill was purportedly passed.” Cardenas-Celestino v. United States, 552 F.Supp.2d 962, 966 (W.D. Mo. 2008). The court in Cardenas-Celestino found that:

This claim is part of a new rash of frivolous claims raised by prisoners across the country, many of whom have copied the arguments directly from Internet Websites which propound the argument and [were] developed by a Texas firm, International Legal Services.[1] All of these allegations concerning the supposed irregular adoption of Public Law 80-772 have been firmly denied by every court to address them. The Supreme Court denied all the petitions presented by International Legal Services and those associated with them. See In re Von Kahl, 552 U.S. 988, 128 S.Ct. 520, 169 L.Ed.2d 369 (2007) (denying writ of habeas corpus raising these same arguments) (rehearing denied, 552 U.S. 1159, 128 S.Ct. 1113, 169 L.Ed.2d 842 (2008)); In re Miles, 552 U.S. 1037, 128 S.Ct. 689, 169 L.Ed.2d 540 (2007) (same), rehearing denied, 552 U.S. 1225, 128 S.Ct. 1338, 170 L.Ed.2d 145 (2008).
Two federal circuit courts have recently addressed the various arguments concerning the constitutionality of the manner in which Public Law 80-772 was enacted, and both have concluded that these challenges are meritless. See United States v. Collins, 510 F.3d 697, 698 (7th Cir. 2007) (argument “that Title 18-the federal criminal code-is unconstitutional because of supposed irregularities in its enactment” is “unbelievably frivolous”); United States v. Campbell, 221 Fed.Appx. 459, 461 (7th Cir. 2007) (claim that Title 18 was not properly enacted is “factually incorrect”); United States v. Potts, 251 Fed.Appx. 109, 111 (3d Cir. 2007) (18 U.S.C. § 3231 was “properly enacted and is binding”; arguments to the contrary are “frivolous”); Benjamin v. Miner, 256 Fed.Appx. 554, 555 (3d Cir. 2007) (“there is no merit to Benjamin's assertion that both houses of Congress did not properly enact 18 U.S.C. § 3231”); United States v. Johnson, 270 Fed.Appx. 191, 2008 WL 761109 (3d Cir.2008) ([t]he statute relied upon for jurisdiction [§ 3231] in this case was properly enacted and is binding).
Cardenas-Celestino's frivolous claims have been routinely rejected out of hand by an extremely large number of district court[s], some of which have provided a thorough debunking of his particular arguments about the enactment of Public Law 80-772. See United States v. McCuiston, CR. No. C-04-676, C.A. No. C-07-I93, 2007 WL 2688502 (S.D. Tex. Sept. 12, 2007); United States v. Felipe, CR. No. 05-711-1, Civ. A. No. 07-061, 2007 WL 2207804, at *2 (E.D. Pa. July 30, 2007) (“There was no sine die recess between the votes of the House and Senate; rather, there was an inter-session adjournment between these events”); United States v. Martinez, CR No. C-04-157, C.A. No. C-05-423, 2006 WL 1293261 (S.D. Tex. May 6, 2006); Derleth v. United States, Crim. No. L-03-1745-6, Civ. No. L-05-205, 2006 WL 1804618 (S.D. Tex. June 27, 2006); Mullican v. Stine, Civ. A. No. 07-129-KKC, 2007 WL 1193534 (E.D. Ky. Apr. 23, 2007); Campbell v. Gonzalez, Civ. A. No. 07- 36-GFVT, 2007 WL 1035021 (E.D. Ky. Mar. 29, 2007); Cullum v. Fox, Civ. A. No. 1:06cv309, 2006 WL 3691170 (E.D. Tex. Dec. 11, 2006); Bledsoe v. Levi, Civ. A. No. 07-4543, 2007 WL 3408449 (E.D. Pa. Nov. 15, 2007); Goncalves v. Gonzales, Civ. A. No. 06- CV-275-GFVT, 2007 WL 628142 (E.D. Ky. Feb. 26, 2007); Lister v. United States, Nos. 3:06-CV-1355-N, 3:03-CR-374-N, 2006 WL 3751324 (N.D. Tex. Dec. 20, 2006); Irizarry v. United States, Crim. No. 05-44-4, Civ. A. No. 06-05333, 2007 WL 1720429 (E.D. Pa. June 11, 2007); Laroque v. United States, Crim. No. 2:04- 81, Civ. No. 2:05-104, 2007 WL 1652260 (D.N.D. June 7, 2007); United States v. Castaneda, Crim. No. 04-500016-004, Civ. No. 07-5070, 2007 WL 3094377 (W.D. Ark., Oct. 19, 2007); Little v. Levi, Civ. A. No. 07-4604, 2007 WL 4255265 ...

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