United States District Court, Eastern District of New York
March 13, 2003
GAYLORD DAVIS, PETITIONER, AGAINST UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, RESPONDENT.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: I. Leo Glasser, United States District Judge
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Petitioner Gaylord Davis ("Davis" or "petitioner"), proceeding pro se, has filed a motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 seeking to vacate his judgment of conviction and sentence. On February 23, 2000. Davis was convicted, after a jury trial, of illegally possessing a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g). On May 11, 2000, this Court sentenced Davis to a term of imprisonment of 63 months, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Judgment was entered on May 15, 2000.
Davis took a direct appeal of this judgment. challenging his conviction based on ineffective assistance of counsel. He claimed that counsel was ineffective primarily because counsel (a) failed to conduct adequate cross-examination regarding whether Davis in fact possessed the firearm; and (b) stipulated that the firearm in question had traveled in foreign commerce. On June 11, 2002, the Court of Appeals considered these claims and dismissed them on the merits. United States v. Davis, 36 Fed. Appx. 463 (2d Cir. 2002) (summary order). Specifically, the Court of Appeals noted that (a) "the witnesses in question testified that on the occasion at issue Davis had pointed a gun at them, and (b) that the gun in question was a German product." Id., at 464.
On or about February 28, 2003, Davis filed this motion. Davis seeks relief based solely on one ground: relying upon the Report of the Interdepartmental Committee for the Study of Jurisdiction over Federal Areas within the States (1956) (the "Interdepartmental Committee Report"), Davis argues that this Court lacked "legislative jurisdiction" to prosecute him under Article I, Section 8, Clause 17 of the United States Constitution or 40 U.S.C. § 255. (Pet. Mem. at 1, 19-20.) For the reasons that follow, Davis's motion must be dismissed.
A district court may dismiss a Section 2255 motion, sua sponte, "[i]f it plainly appears from the face of the motion and any annexed exhibits and the prior proceedings in the case that the movant is not entitled to relief in the district court. . . ." Rule 4(b), 28 U.S.C. § 2255; cf. Acosta v. Artuz, 221 F.3d 117, 124 (2d Cir. 2000) (noting that 28 U.S.C. § 2254 Habeas Rule 4 provides for the sua sponte dismissal of a habeas petition on the merits, followed by notice). The present motion must be dismissed because it is plainly apparent that petitioner's arguments lack any merit whatsoever.
The Interdepartmental Committee Report on which Davis relies was undertaken to analyze certain troublesome issues that arose from time to time regarding whether the federal government exercises exclusive or concurrent jurisdiction over those areas ceded by the states to the federal government. See generally Cornman v. Dawson, 295 F. Supp. 654, 656 n. 4 (D.Md. 1969) ("This Committee was formed in 1954 with the approval of President Eisenhower to study the problems arising out of the jurisdictional status of federally owned areas within the several states, which the Department of Justice had found to be `in a confused and chaotic state.'"). It is undisputed that the Constitution permits Congress to exercise jurisdiction over such lands. U.S. Const., Art. I, § 8, Cl. 17 (granting Congress the power "[t]o exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever . . . over all places purchased by the consent of the legislature of the state in which the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings. . . .")
Davis argues that his motion should be heard to require the government to put forward proof that the United States has acquired the land where the crime occurred and that the United States has exercised jurisdiction over them under the property clause. This argument has no bearing on his conviction. 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) was not passed to regulate conduct on federal property per se (although certainly there is no reason to doubt that it applies to felons in possession of firearms on federal property). Instead, 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) forbids the possession or receipt by a felon of a firearm in or affecting commerce and was thus enacted by Congress under its power to regulate commerce "with foreign Nations, and among the several states." U.S. Const., Art. I, § 8, Cl. 3. Therefore, the critical inquiry to determine whether Congress validly enacted this statute is to determine if the law was a permissible exercise of Congress' power under the commerce clause. Yet it is beyond dispute that § 922(g) falls within the scope of Congressional power. See United States v. Santiago, 238 F.3d 213, 215 (2d Cir. 2001); see also id., at 217 (collecting cases from other circuits holding same). Moreover, since Davis stipulated that the firearm had traveled in foreign commerce, there can be no collateral attack on the factual predicate of this jurisdictional nexus.
For the foregoing reasons, the motion is dismissed.
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