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Non-Sentencing Court Cannot Adjust Sentence on Habeas

On November 15, 2011, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a New Mexico federal district court’s order dismissing a habeas petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 that sought to adjust a sentence imposed by a California federal district court. The New Mexico court held it did not have the jurisdiction to alter a sentence imposed by another court unless expressly authorized by Congress.

The petition was filed pro se by Jakub Lonski, a Canadian citizen. He was convicted of a federal drug-related offense in California and sentenced to 42 months in prison. His alien status rendered him ineligible for drug treatment programs and residential re-entry programs. Claiming the denial of these benefits made his sentence more “harsh” than the ones imposed on citizen-prisoners, Lonski asked to have his sentence reduced by six months to account the time he would spend in custody awaiting deportation.

The Tenth Circuit said that as Lonski attacked the execution of the sentence and its length, the claim was cognizable under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, not § 2241. Additionally, Lonski changed his argument, and the court refused to consider arguments brought for the first time on appeal. The district court’s order dismissing the petition was affirmed.
See: Lonski v. United States, 447 Fed.Appx. 871 (10th Cir. 2011).

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Related legal case

Lonski v. United States