Unpublished Disposition, 887 F.2d 1089 (9th Cir. 1989)Annotate this Case
Francis E. SPRINGFIELD, Plaintiff-Appellantv.U.S. ATTORNEY, Defendant-Appellee.
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
Submitted Sept. 12, 1989.* Decided Oct. 2, 1989.
Before JAMES R. BROWNING, ALARCON and CYNTHIA HOLCOMB HALL, Circuit Judges.
Francis E. Springfield appeals from a judgment dismissing his complaint filed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The district court dismissed Springfield's action with prejudice pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d), holding that it was frivolous. Springfield contends that the district court erred by not treating this action as a motion under 18 U.S.C. § 2255. He also contends that the district court did not have subject-matter jurisdiction over charges brought against him under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) and 18 U.S.C.App. Sec. 1202(a). We affirm.
* We review de novo a denial of a motion under 18 U.S.C. § 2255 because it is in the nature of habeas corpus. Weygandt v. Ducharme, 774 F.2d 1491, 1492 (9th Cir. 1985). We review the district court's assumption of jurisdiction over a criminal offense de novo because it is a matter of law. United States v. Walczak, 783 F.2d 852, 854 (9th Cir. 1986).
It is apparent from Springfield's pleadings that he did not intend to file a civil rights claim. He erroneously denominated his first petition as one seeking habeas corpus relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 and 28 U.S.C. § 1651. The district court compounded his error by returning to him a "Form to Be Used by Prisoners in Filing a Complaint Under the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. 1983," which he completed and filed. In both pleadings he was attacking the validity of, and seeking relief from, his federal conviction. In order to do this properly, he should have filed a motion under 18 U.S.C. § 2255 in the court which sentenced him. This section provides him an adequate and effective remedy. United States v. Hayman, 342 U.S. 205, 223 (1952).
Because Springfield is acting as his own counsel in this matter, we do not impose on him the same high standards we might place upon an attorney. Price v. Johnston, 334 U.S. 266, 292 (1948). We therefore construe his pleadings liberally and find them sufficient to constitute a section 2255 motion without need for amendment. We construe the district court's dismissal as a denial of this motion and review de novo.
Springfield has withdrawn his claim that the district court was without jurisdiction to enter a judgment convicting him of involuntary manslaughter, a lesser included offense of murder and itself a crime enumerated under the Major Crimes Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1153. Because involuntary manslaughter is itself an enumerated crime under the Act, see 18 U.S.C.. Secs. 1112 and 1153, there is no need to reach the issue of whether he could have been convicted of an unenumerated lesser included offense. Even if Springfield had been convicted of an unenumerated lesser included offense, this argument would be without merit. United States v. Bowman, 679 F.2d 798, 799 (9th Cir. 1982) (district court has jurisdiction to sentence on a lesser included offense not enumerated in the Act when defendant has requested and received an instruction on it), cert. denied, 459 U.S. 1210.
Springfield does, however, maintain his argument that the district court lacked jurisdiction to convict him under section 924(c) and section 1202(a). These offenses are not enumerated under section 1153.
* Because the underlying felony for which Springfield was convicted, involuntary manslaughter, was enumerated under 18 U.S.C. § 1153, the court also had jurisdiction to prosecute him under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). United States v. Laughing, 855 F.2d 659, 660 (9th Cir. 1988). In Laughing, we indicated that our previous disposition of Springfield's direct appeal, United States v. Springfield, 829 F.2d 860, 865 (9th Cir. 1987), "implicitly upheld the district court's jurisdiction over the section 924(c) offense." Laughing, 855 F.2d at 660.
We have previously rejected the argument that section 18 U.S.C.App. Sec. 1202(a) does not apply to Indians on Indian reservations. This statute is a law of general applicability which "makes an action criminal wherever committed." United States v. Burns, 529 F.2d 114, 117 (9th Cir. 1976). Therefore, Springfield's contention that section 1202(a) should not apply to him is without any foundation in law.
Springfield's complaint, treated as a motion under Sec. 2255, was properly rejected by the district court.