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Ruston v. Jett

United States District Court, District of Minnesota, Fifth Division

March 17, 2015

LESTER JON RUSTON, Petitioner,
v.
WARDEN B.R. JETT, Respondent.

Lester Jon Ruston, pro se.

Ana H. Voss and D. Gerald Wilhelm, Assistant United States Attorneys, for respondent.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE

JOHN R. TUNHEIM United States District Judge

Petitioner Lester Jon Ruston (“Ruston”) is currently civilly committed at the Federal Medical Center in Rochester, Minnesota (“FMC Rochester”). Respondent B.R. Jett (“Jett”) is the Warden of FMC Rochester. In 2004, Ruston was indicted in the Northern District of Texas for threatening a United States Magistrate Judge in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 115. Although Ruston’s actions satisfied the elements of the offense, Ruston and the government stipulated that he should be found not guilty by reason of insanity and Ruston was civilly committed. On June 12, 2014, Ruston filed an amended petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. First, Ruston argues for various reasons that the initial civil commitment order is invalid. In the alternative, Ruston alleges that his continued detention is without legal basis because he no longer poses a substantial risk of bodily injury to, or serious damage to the property of, another person. Additionally, Ruston filed a motion for preliminary injunction on August 6, 2014.

On October 24, 2014, United States Magistrate Judge Franklin L. Noel issued a Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) recommending the Court dismiss Ruston’s amended petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Noel further recommended that Ruston’s motion for preliminary injunction be denied as moot. Ruston objected to the R&R on two grounds. Even when Ruston’s objections are taken into consideration, however, he may not challenge his own decision to assert a successful insanity defense by way of a habeas petition. Moreover, the availability of statutory remedies precludes Ruston from obtaining relief by way of a habeas petition. Therefore, the Court will adopt the R&R, dismiss Ruston’s amended habeas petition, and dismiss as moot Ruston’s motion for preliminary injunction.

BACKGROUND

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY AND CIVIL COMMITMENT

On May 21, 2004, Ruston called the chambers of the Honorable Irma Ramirez, United States Magistrate Judge for the Northern District of Texas. United States v. Ruston, 565 F.3d 892, 894 (5th Cir. 2009). Ruston left a profane and threatening message on Judge Ramirez’s answering machine, and was consequently indicted on one count of threatening a federal official in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 115. Id. Although his actions satisfied the elements of the offense, Ruston and the government stipulated that he should be found not guilty by reason of insanity (NGRI). (United States v. Ruston, Case No. 3:04-cr-00191-D-1 (N.D. Tex.), Joint Stipulation of Fact, October 2, 2006, Docket No. 118.)

The court found Ruston not guilty by reason of insanity and he was committed to the custody of the Attorney General, pending a hearing pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4243(c). (Id., Order, Oct. 16, 2006, Docket No. 121.) The court held a Section 4243(c) hearing and ordered Ruston civilly committed, finding “by clear and convincing evidence that releasing the defendant from the custody of the Attorney General would likely create a substantial risk of bodily injury to another person or serious damage of property of another person due to [Ruston’s] present mental disease or defect.” (Id., Order, Mar. 28, 2007, Docket No. 159.) Ruston is presently committed at FMC Rochester.

II. THIS PROCEEDING

On June 12, 2014, Ruston filed an amended petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241, seeking immediate, unconditional release from custody. (Am. Pet., June 12, 2014, Docket No. 2.) Ruston’s petition appears to assert two general justifications for his request. First, Ruston challenges the validity of his own initial plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. Ruston argues various justifications for this, including that he was not competent to enter the plea, and that the court did not have jurisdiction over his criminal case. (Id. at 3-6.) Second, although he does not directly state this argument, Ruston’s petition appears to argue in the alternative that his continued detention by way of civil commitment is unlawful because he no longer poses “a substantial risk of bodily injury to another person or serious damage of property of another.” 18 U.S.C. § 4243(d); (see also Am. Pet. at 5 (“The committing court has used criminals with motives to lie to make false claims Petitioner is dangerous.”).) Additionally, on August 6, 2014, Ruston filed a motion for preliminary injunction to “prevent[] any act of fraud, crime or retaliation during the pendency of this writ of habeas corpus.” (Mot. for Prelim. Injunction at 5, Aug. 6, 2014, Docket No. 5.)

On October 24, 2014, Magistrate Judge Noel issued an R&R recommending the Court deny Ruston’s amended petition for writ of habeas corpus. (R&R at 4, Oct. 24, 2014, Docket No. 8.) The R&R further concluded that because Ruston failed to state a cognizable claim in his habeas petition, his motion for preliminary injunction should be denied as moot. (Id.) Ruston filed two objections to the R&R, both of which relate to the recommended dismissal of the habeas petition. (Pet’r’s Objections to R&R (“Objections”), Nov. 3, 2014, Docket No. 9.)

DISCUSSION

I. STANDARD OF REVIEW


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