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Taylor v. Cross

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

November 9, 2016

THOMAS L. TAYLOR, #02079-025, Petitioner,
JAMES CROSS, Respondent.



         Thomas Taylor's petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 (Doc. 1) is now before the Court. Based on the following, the Court denies and dismisses with prejudice the petition.

         In 1991, petitioner was convicted in this District of conspiracy to distribute over five kilograms of cocaine, three counts of possession of three separate firearms by a convicted felon, and sale of a stolen firearm. Petitioner was sentenced to serve concurrent sentences totaling 420 months. Petitioner received enhanced sentences on the conspiracy to distribute and felon in possession charges because he had three prior felonies. Taylor v. Cross, No. 14-cv-304-DRH, 2014 WL 1256371 (S.D. 111. Mar. 26, 2014). These convictions were a 1970 burglary conviction, a 1973 delivery of a controlled substance offense, and a 1984 delivery of a controlled substance offense. Doc. 1, pp. 25-26.

         Procedural History

         In 1997, petitioner filed a motion under 28 U.S.C. §2255 with this Court. The motion claimed a violation of his plea agreement based on ineffective assistance of counsel. The motion was denied. See Taylor v. United States, Case No. 97-cv-360 (S.D. 111., filed Apr. 23, 1997).

         In 2004, petitioner brought his first 28 U.S.C. §2241 petition before this Court. Taylor v. Veltri, Case No. 04-cv-57 (S.D. 111.). He argued that his sentence for the conspiracy charge should not have been enhanced under the career offender guidelines and that he was actually innocent of the facts used to enhance his sentence as a career offender. Id. The motion was denied because petitioner failed to challenge the legality of his sentence in his prior §2255 motion. (Doc. 3 in Case No. 04-cv-57). Petitioner then filed a motion to consider a second or successive §2255 motion. This §2255 failed because petitioner did not obtain the requisite permission from the Seventh Circuit to file the petition. This Court found it had no jurisdiction to consider the successive §2255 and the petition was dismissed without prejudice for lack of jurisdiction.

         In March 2014, petitioner filed the instant petition. Petitioner raised two arguments, both claiming petitioner is "actually innocent" of the enhanced sentences he received. Petitioner's first claim, that this Court did not have statutory jurisdiction to sentence him outside of 21 U.S.C. §841(a)(1) and his 420 month sentence should be vacated, was dismissed pursuant to Rule 4 of the Rules Governing §2254.[1]See Doc. 4.[2]

         Petitioner's second claim is that he is actually innocent of the 405 month enhanced sentence for the felon-in-possession counts. This sentence was imposed because petitioner had three prior qualifying felony convictions within the parameters of 18 U.S.C. § 924(e) (Doc. 1, pp. 15-18). One of the convictions was from 1970 for burglary and another was from 1973 for delivery of a controlled substance. He raises no issue as to the third prior felony, for another delivery of controlled substance offense in 1984.

         Petitioner relies on Caron v. United States, 524 U.S. 308 (1998); United States v. Adams, 698 F.3d 965 (7th Cir. 2012); and United States v. Osborne, 262 F.3d 486 (5th Cir. 2001), and claims that under the Illinois statute[3] in effect prior to 1984, his civil rights were restored as of 1980, which was five years after he completed his sentences on the 1970 and 1973 felonies. He argued that those two convictions should not have been counted against him, and without them, he did not have the requisite three prior felonies for his sentence to be enhanced.

         Applicable Legal Standards

         Generally, petitions for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. §2241 may not be used to raise claims of legal error in conviction or sentencing, but are limited to challenges regarding the execution of a sentence. See, Valona v. United States, 138 F.3d 693, 694 (7th Cir.1998). Rather, the vehicle for challenging a federal conviction or sentence is a motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §2255, brought in the court of conviction. Indeed, a §2255 motion is ordinarily the "exclusive means for a federal prisoner to attack his conviction." Kramer v. Olson, 347 F.3d 214, 217(7thCir. 2003).

         A prisoner is generally limited to only one challenge of his conviction and sentence under §2255. A prisoner may not file a "second or successive" motion unless a panel of the appropriate court of appeals certifies that such motion contains either 1) newly discovered evidence "sufficient to establish by clear and convincing evidence that no reasonable factfinder would have found the movant guilty of the offense, " or 2) "a new rule of constitutional law, made retroactive to cases on collateral review by the Supreme Court, that was previously unavailable." 28 U.S.C. §2255(h).

         It is possible, under very limited circumstances, for a prisoner to challenge his federal conviction or sentence under §2241. 28 U.S.C. §2255(e) contains a "savings clause" which authorizes a federal prisoner to file a §2241 petition where the remedy under §2255 is "inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of his detention." 28 U.S.C. §2255(e). See, United States v. Prevatte, 300 F.3d 792, 798-99 (7th Cir.2002). "A procedure for postconviction relief can be fairly termed inadequate when it is so configured as to deny a convicted defendant any opportunity for judicial rectification of so fundamental a defect in his conviction as having been imprisoned for a nonexistent offense." In re Davenport, 147 F.3d 605, 611 (7th Cir. 1998).

         The Seventh Circuit has explained that, in order to fit within the savings clause following Davenport, a petitioner must meet three conditions. First, he must show that he relies on a new statutory interpretation case rather than a constitutional case. Secondly, he must show that he relies on a decision that he could not have invoked in his first §2255 motion and that case must apply retroactively. Lastly, he must demonstrate that there has been a "fundamental defect" in his conviction or sentence that is grave enough to be deemed a ...

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