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Youngberg v. Krueger

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division

November 13, 2018

LAWRENCE M. YOUNGBERG, Petitioner,
v.
J. E. KRUEGER Warden, Respondent.

          ORDER DENYING WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 2241 AND DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT

          HON. JANE MAGNUS-STINSON, CHIEF JUDGE

         Lawrence M. Youngberg, an inmate at the U.S. Penitentiary at Terre Haute, Indiana, seeks a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. For the reasons discussed in this Order, his petition for writ of habeas corpus is denied.

         I. Factual Background

         In 1991, Mr. Youngberg was a member of the United States Armed Forces stationed in Germany. The following facts come from the appellate decision issued by the United States Army Court of Military Review:

The victim in this case, a promiscuous, thirty-year old German national female, known as the “Biker Lady” to American soldiers who frequented a local drinking establishment in Bad Kreuznach, Germany, was brutally murdered on 24 August 1991. Her body, completely naked except for a pair of white athletic socks, was found at a hilltop picnic site, impaled on a two-foot long wooden stake which had been driven into her vagina, through her abdominal cavity up to the level of her liver. Her mouth and throat had been stuffed with small stones and her head partially crushed by repeated blows from a ten-pound piece of concrete.
The appellant was arrested on 25 August 1991 by German police. On 26 August 1991, he was arraigned in German court and ordered into confinement by a German District Judge. These court-martial charges were not preferred until 18 December 1991, after a sanity board had been conducted and German autopsy, police, and laboratory reports were completed and translated. The Article 32, UCMJ, investigating officer's report was subsequently completed on 10 March 1992. The German authorities finally released jurisdiction to the government on 6 May 1992, the day after they were informed that capital punishment could be excluded as a potential punishment at appellant's court-martial. Two days later, on 8 May 1992, the case was referred to trial by general court-martial, and the appellant was eventually arraigned on 10 June 1992.

United States v. Youngberg, 38 M.J. 635, 636 (A.C.M.R. 1993), aff'd, 43 M.J. 379 (C.A.A.F. 1995).

         Mr. Youngberg was tried and convicted of premeditated murder and an indecent act in violation of Articles 118 and 134, Uniform Code of Military Justice, 10 U.S.C. §§ 918 and 934 (1988) (hereinafter “UCMJ”) at a general court-martial before a panel composed of officer members. See id. He was sentenced to a dishonorable discharge, confinement for life, total forfeitures, and reduction to Private E1. Id.

         Mr. Youngberg challenged his conviction in the United States Army Court of Military Review. The Court of Military Review affirmed his conviction and sentence. Id. at 640. Mr. Youngberg then appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, but the Court of Appeals affirmed the Court of Military Review's decision. United States v. Youngberg, 43 M.J. 379, 388 (C.A.A.F. 1995).

         Mr. Youngberg was initially a military prisoner but was transferred to be a federal inmate at the Federal Correctional Complex at Terre Haute, Indiana[1].

         II. Discussion

         Mr. Youngberg now files a petition under § 2241 challenging his conviction and requesting a military parole hearing. Dkt. 1. Specifically, Mr. Youngberg asserts that: (1) the military court lacked jurisdiction to convict him, (2) he has been denied due process and equal protection because he has been denied the annual military parole board he was entitled to after serving ten years of his sentence, and (3) his defense counsel was ineffective for failing to assert an insanity defense. Id. In response, the respondent asserts that Mr. Youngberg's claims do not fit into the “savings clause” of § 2241 and therefore he cannot proceed with his petition. Dkt. 11 at 3-6. The respondent further argues that Mr. Youngerberg's claims have no merit. Id. at 6-11. Mr. Youngberg did not file a reply, and the time to do so has passed.

         A. Proceeding with a § 2241 Petition

          The respondent asserts that Mr. Youngberg cannot proceed with his petition because his claims do not fit into the “savings clause” of § 2241. Dkt. 11 at 3-6. The respondent is mistaken.

         This case is unique because Mr. Youngberg was convicted by a military court. Typically, federal prisoners who wish to collaterally attack their convictions or sentences ordinarily must do so under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Brown v. Rios, 696 F.3d 638, 640 (7th Cir. 2012). To succeed on a motion for relief under § 2241, a motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 must be “inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of his detention.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e). But courts-martial proceedings “dissolve after the purpose for which they were convened has been resolved. As a result, there is not a sentencing court in which a military prisoner may bring a § 2255 motion. Witham v. United States, 355 F.3d 501, 505 (6th Cir. 2004). Thus, Section 2255 is inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of Mr. Youngberg's detention.

         The Supreme Court has stated that petitions for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 are a permissible method for members of the United States Armed Forces to seek federal civil court review of court-martial convictions. Clinton v. Goldsmith, 526 U.S. 529, 537 n. 11 (1999) (“And of course, once a criminal conviction has been finally reviewed within the military system, and a service member in custody has exhausted other avenues provided under the UCMJ to seek relief from his conviction . . . he is entitled to bring a habeas corpus petition, see 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c), claiming that his conviction is affected by a fundamental defect that requires that it be set aside.”); Burns v. Wilson, 346 U.S. 137, 139 (1953); United States v. Augenblick, 393 U.S. 348, 350 n. 3 (1969); see Tartt v. Sec'y of Army, 841 F.Supp. 236, 238 (N.D. Ill. 1993) (“Habeas corpus relief is the well-established and appropriate ...


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