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Henderson v. Walton

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

August 30, 2013

MICHAEL HENDERSON, No. 98336-024, Petitioner,
v.
J.S. WALTON, Respondent.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

DAVID R. HERNDON, District Judge.

On April 25, 2013, petitioner Michael Henderson, who is currently incarcerated in the United States Penitentiary at Marion, Illinois, brought this habeas corpus action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 to challenge the constitutionality of the sentence imposed in connection with his 1994 conviction for distributing crack cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841 (three counts) and a firearms violation under 28 U.S.C. § 924(c). By Order dated May 14, 2013, the petition was dismissed without prejudice (Doc. 6). Now before the Court are Henderson's June 10, 2013, motion for reconsideration pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e), arguing that the Court made a manifest error of law (Doc. 7); and his motion to supplement his Rule 59(e) motion to add an argument premised upon a recent Supreme Court decision, Alleyne v. United States, ___ U.S. ___, 133 S.Ct. 2151 (June 17, 2013) (Doc. 8).

Procedural Synopsis

Henderson was convicted by a jury and subsequently sentenced to concurrent 300-month terms of imprisonment on the drug offenses, and a consecutive 60-month term of imprisonment on the gun charge. United States v. Henderson, Case No. 93-cr-20026-1 (N.D.Ill. Sept. 13, 1994). Following a successful appeal, Henderson was resentenced, albeit to the same terms. United States v. Henderson, Case No. 93-cr-20026-1 (N.D.Ill. Sept. 22, 1995).

Henderson later secured a 65-month reduction in his drug sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2). United States v. Henderson, Case No. 93-cr-20026-1 (N.D.Ill. Nov. 7, 2008). He was sentenced to 235 months on the drug offenses. However, the district court declined to use Section 3582(c) as a means to resentence Henderson under the precepts of United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005). Subsequent appeals regarding the sentence and denial of any further reduction under Section 3582(c) were unsuccessful. United States v. Henderson, Case No. 08-4297 (7th Cir. March 13, 2009); United States v. Henderson, Case No. 09-1854 (7th Cir. June 5, 2009).

Second and third motions for reduction of sentence under Section 3582(c) were denied because of the applicability of a mandatory minimum 20-year sentence on the drug offenses pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 851, due to Henderson's prior felony drug conviction. United States v. Henderson, Case No. 93-cr-20026-1 (N.D.Ill. Nov. 23, 2010); United States v. Henderson, Case No. 93-cr-20026-1 (N.D.Ill. Mar. 20, 2012). It was during this period that the district court acknowledged the 20-year mandatory minimum term had not been taken into account in calculating Plaintiff's original sentence because the sentence already exceeded 20 years. See United States v. Henderson, Case No. 93-cr-20026-1 (Feb. 9, 2012). Furthermore, it was acknowledged that when Henderson's sentence was reduced, the mandatory minimum was mistakenly not applied. Id. Nevertheless, the district court permitted Henderson to retain the benefit of its mistake by not retroactively increasing the sentence to account for the mandatory minimum. Id. On appeal, Henderson argued that there was no basis for enhancing his sentence pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 851 due to a prior felony drug conviction-no mandatory minimum had previously been applied, therefore a mandatory minimum 20-year sentence could not be applied prospectively. Henderson's appeal of the denial of further reduction under Section 3582(c) was denied. United States v. Henderson, Case No. 12-1797 (7th Cir. Dec. 3, 2012). The Court of Appeals specifically found that the mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years on the drug offenses was applicable, thereby making further reduction impossible. Id.

Most recently, Henderson unsuccessfully attempted to use Section 3582(c) to seek reconsideration of the imposition of the mandatory minimum under Section 851. In essence, he wanted the district court to resentence him anew. The district court observed that the appellate court's ruling had put an end to that argument. United States v. Henderson, Case No. 93-cr-20026-1 (N.D.Ill. Apr. 2, 2013).

In his April 2013 Section 2241 petition, Henderson argued that his mandatory minimum sentence under Section 851 should be 10 years, not the enhanced 20-year term. Citing O'Dell v. Netherland, 521 U.S. 151, 157 (1997)[1], Henderson argued the Probation Office's calculation of his sentence impermissibly varied from the drug amounts charged in the indictment because of his relevant conduct; thus, the grand jury process was circumvented and he has been denied due process. Furthermore, citing In re Davenport, 147 F.3d 605 (7th Cir. 1998), Henderson asserted that he is actually innocent as sentenced. From Henderson's perspective, his unusual situation does not fit the Section 2255 mold, thereby rendering Section 2255 an inadequate or ineffective remedy.

This Court concluded that Henderson had not satisfied all of the criteria for utilizing Section 2241, as opposed to Section 2255, to seek relief from his sentence (Doc. 5). Henderson had clearly framed his argument as a constitutional issue, making a Section 2255 petition an appropriate remedy. Furthermore, a new, retroactive legal precedent had not been cited. Moreover, he had not shown that Section 2255 was an inadequate or ineffective remedy.

More specifically, the Court found Henderson's situation akin to that presented in Unthank v. Jett, 549 F.3d 534 (7th Cir. 2008). In Unthank, Section 2241 could not be used because the petitioner had failed to rely upon a retroactive Supreme Court decision. Consequently, the Savings Clause could not be invoked because Section 2255 had not been shown to be inadequate or ineffective. Henderson's Section 2241 petition was dismissed without prejudice.

Motion to Supplement Motion for Reconsideration

As a preliminary matter, the Court will GRANT Petitioner's motion to supplement his motion for reconsideration to include an argument premised upon the newly decided Alleyne v. United States, ___ U.S. __, 133 S.Ct. 2151 (June 17, 2013) (Doc. 8). Although Alleyne was not decided until after Henderson's Section 2241 petition was denied, the Court will address that decision because it is a part of the general body of law upon which the Court's previous order was based.

The Standard of Review

Twenty-six days after the Court's final order was entered, petitioner Henderson moved to alter or amend judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e). He contends the Court made a manifest error of law. In Obriecht v. Raemisch, 517 F.3d 489, 493-494 (7th Cir. 2008), the Court of Appeals declared that district courts should analyze post-judgment motions based on their substance: "whether a motion... should be analyzed under ...


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