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Williams v. Cross

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

January 30, 2014

BRIAN T. WILLIAMS, No. 11751-026, Petitioner,
v.
JAMES CROSS, JR., Respondent.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

DAVID R. HERNDON, District Judge.

Petitioner Brian T. Williams is a federal inmate currently incarcerated in the Federal Correctional Institution at Greenville, Illinois. On March 7, 2013, Williams initiated this habeas corpus action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, collaterally attacking his conviction and sentence for conspiracy to distribute cocaine base (Doc. 1). See United States of America v. Williams, No. 99-cr-40059-MMM (C.D.Ill. Sep. 22, 2000). At this juncture, Williams' third amended petition is before the Court (Doc. 13).

Pursuant to Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in United States District Courts, the third amended petition shall undergo preliminary review. Rule 4 provides that upon preliminary consideration by the district court judge, "[i]f it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court, the judge must dismiss the petition and direct the clerk to notify the petitioner." Rule 1(b) of those Rules gives this Court the authority to apply the rules to other habeas corpus cases.

The Third Amended Petition

The third amended petition asserts three principal grounds for upsetting Williams' conviction and sentence:

1. Williams is actually innocent, because he was convicted of a nonexistent offense: conspiring with himself;
2. The district court was without jurisdiction to impose sentence and judgment based on facts not admitted by Williams, nor found by a jury; and
3. The sentencing scheme relative to crack cocaine is unconstitutional and racially biased. Williams cites a virtual laundry list of Supreme Court cases dating from

2004 (when his first Section 2255 petition was decided), to the present ( see Doc. 13-1, pp. 6-7). He contends that the so-called "savings clause" in 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e) permits him to now use Section 2241 to attack his conviction and sentence, because all of those cited precedents were unavailable when he filed his first Section 2255 petition. Furthermore, he contends he is actually innocent of conspiring to distribute cocaine base.

Procedural Posture of the Third Amended Petition

It is important to note that by order dated July 22, 2013, the second amended petition was dismissed with prejudice and final judgment was entered (Docs. 9, 10). However, Williams' subsequent motion to alter or amend judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) (Doc. 11) was granted (Doc. 12). The order and judgment were vacated and Williams was directed to file a third amended petition asserting all grounds for relief. However, the Court's prior ruling regarding arguments based upon Alleyne v. United States, ___ U.S. ___, 133 S.Ct. 2151 (June 17, 2013), and, tangentially upon Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (June 26, 2000), were to remain the law of the case. In order to present a clear record of the arguments made and the Court's rulings, the Court intended to address all arguments presented in the third amended complaint in a single order, although the analysis and conclusions regarding Alleyne and Apprendi would be the same.

Grounds 2 and 3 of the third amended petition, to some extent, rest upon Alleyne and Apprendi. However, reading the three grounds and all of Williams' arguments together casts matters in a different light (which is not to say that the Court's previous analysis and conclusions were incorrect). Therefore, the Court will now vacate it's prior ruling and fully consider anew all grounds and arguments presented in the third amended petition.

Williams' Litigation History

Williams' litigation history places the petition in context and is relevant the analysis of this collateral attack; it also highlights a possible obstacle that was ...


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