The opinion of the court was delivered by: DAVID COAR, District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Petitioner Sharee S. Williams petition for a writ of habeas corpus
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 is before this court. For the following
reasons, this court denies the petition in its entirety.
On November 13, 1998, following a jury trial, petitioner was convicted
of conspiracy to distribute a Schedule II narcotic, in violation of
21 U.S.C. § 846 (Count I) and possession with intent to distribute and
distributing a Schedule II narcotic, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1)
(Count III), She was also convicted of possession of a firearm by a felon
(Count V), in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). On March 18, 1999, this
court sentenced Williams to 97 months' imprisonment, pursuant to
21 U.S.C. § 841(b) and the applicable sections of the United States
On August 15, 2000, the Seventh Circuit affirmed the convictions on
Counts I and III and reversed and remanded for a new trial on Count V.
United Suites v. Walls, et al., 225 F.3d 858 (7th Cir. 2000). Williams
did not file a petition for certiorari to the United States Supreme
On remand, the parties agreed that reversal of the conviction on. and
dismissal of Count V
would not affect the sentence. Accordingly, on November 1, 2000, an
amended judgment was entered imposing a 97-month sentence (and deleting
reference to the conviction on Count V). The judgment was docketed and
made final on November 6, 2000, and petitioner filed no appeal from that
On October 9, 2001, petitioner timely filed a Section 2255 motion to
vacate her sentence.
II. Habeas Corpus Standard
Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, federal prisoners can challenge the imposition
or length of their detention if their conviction or sentence has been
founded on an error that is "jurisdictional, constitutional, or is a
fundamental defect which inherently results in a complete miscarriage of
justice." Oliver v. United States, 961 F.2d 1339, 1341 (7th Cir. 1992)
(internal quotations and citations omitted). If the court concludes that
any such errors infected the judgment or sentence, it "shall vacate and
set the judgment aside and shall discharge the prisoner or resentence him
or grant a new trial or correct the sentence as may appear appropriate."
28 U.S.C. § 2255.
A. Petitioner Asserts Three Grounds for Relief.*fn1
In support of her request for release from imprisonment, Williams
asserts three arguments all of which are premised upon the decision of
the United States Supreme Court in Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466,
120 S.Ct. 2348 (2000). Petitioner claims that Apprendi established drug
type and quantity as "material elements" of drug-related offenses under
21 U.S.C. § 841 (a). On that basis, she contends that; (1) the indictment
was faulty by virtue of its failure to specify
the type and quantity of the drug at issue; and (2) the trial court erred
by failing to instruct the jury to make findings on those "elements"
under a reasonable doubt standard (and, instead, making those findings
itself under a preponderance standard).
In her petition, Williams also obtusely suggests that Apprendi altered
the Seventh Circuit's formulation of drug-related offenses to require a
jury finding of actual knowledge on the part of defendants concerning the
types of drugs involved therein. Based upon that suggestion, as well as
her generic contention that drug-related offenses require a showing of
"specific intent," she asserts that: (3) the court erred by instructing
the jury that it did "not matter whether the defendant knew that, the
substance was cocaine."
B. Grounds I III Fail Because of Apprendi's Irrelevance to
The Seventh Circuit's construction of Apprendi is clear (and, in some
respects, more narrow than that rendered by other federal courts of
appeals). "All Apprendi holds is that most circumstances increasing a
statutory maximum sentence must be treated as elements of the offense
and if the defendant has demanded a jury trial, this means that they must
be established beyond a reasonable doubt to the jury's satisfaction."
Talbott v. Indiana, 226 F.3d 866
, 869 (7th Cir. 2000), What this means in
the context of drug-related offenses is that "a post-Apprendi indictment
should specify, and the trier of fact must be instructed to determine,
not only the elements of the offense, which ...