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Van v. Krueger

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Peoria Division

February 23, 2017

LAFAYETTE DEANDRE VAN, Petitioner,
v.
JEFF E. KRUEGER, Warden, Respondent.

          ORDER & OPINION

          JOE BILLY McDADE United States Senior District Judge

         This matter is before the Court on Petitioner's Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 (Doc. 1). For the reasons stated below, it is clear that Petitioner is not entitled to relief under § 2241 and the Petition must be DENIED.

         Background

         Petitioner is currently incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution in Pekin, Illinois. In 2007, Petitioner was convicted by a Minnesota federal jury of 1) being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) and had his sentence enhanced under 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(1). United States v. Van, 543 F.3d 963, 964 (8th Cir. 2008). At his sentencing, Petitioner was determined to be an armed career criminal with three prior convictions the court relied upon to impose a § 924(e) sentencing enhancement. Petitioner objected that the three felony drug convictions listed in his Presentence Investigation Report (“PSI”) should be considered as one offense for purposes of the ACCA. The sentencing court held that each of the three 2003 drug convictions noted in the PSI were separate offenses and also that Petitioner had a fourth qualifying predicate offense, a 1999 simple robbery conviction noted in paragraph 26 of the PSI. United States v. Van, No. CIV. 12-2107 MJD, 2013 WL 1703444, at *1 (D. Minn. Apr. 19, 2013). Petitioner was sentenced to terms of imprisonment of 213 months and nineteen days.

         Petitioner filed a direct appeal that was denied by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals on October 3, 2008. Van, 543 F.3d 963. In his appeal, he argued that the evidence presented at his trial was insufficient and that his prior drug convictions were not separate offenses for purposes of the ACCA. Id. Petitioner later filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 in a district court in Kentucky arguing that there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction; that the ACCA should not have been applied; and that his sentence violated the Due Process Clause. See Van v. Wilson, Civil No. 10-210-GFVT, 2011 WL 2550537, at *1 (E.D. Ky. June 23, 2011). That court dismissed the § 2241 petition and the ground that it presented issues that should have been presented in a § 2255 motion before the sentencing court.

         Thereafter, in 2012, Petitioner filed a § 2255 motion in his sentencing court arguing that the ACCA was improperly applied to his sentence because he did not have three qualifying predicate offenses. Van, 2013 WL 1703444, at *2. The court found Petitioner's motion to be untimely and dismissed it on that basis. Id.

         Now Petitioner brings another petition for habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. In it he argues, as he has in his previous attempts at appellate and collateral relief, that he cannot be classified as an armed career criminal under the ACCA because he does not have three predicate convictions needed for the ACCA enhancement pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(1). However, in the instant petition, Petitioner argues for the first time that his sought-after relief is compelled by Mathis v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 2243 (U.S. 2016).

         Legal Standards

         This Court, in its discretion, applies Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts to cases such as these purporting to arise under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. See Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts, Rule 1(b).[1] Rule 4 requires the Court to “promptly examine” the Petition, and dismiss it if it “plainly appears . . . that the petitioner is not entitled to relief.” Pursuant to Rule 4 then, the Court will examine the Petition and determine whether it plainly appears the Petitioner is entitled to relief.

         Federal prisoners like Petitioner who wish to collaterally attack their convictions or sentences ordinarily must generally do so under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Brown v. Rios, 696 F.3d 638, 640 (7th Cir. 2012). They may petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 only in the rare circumstance in which the remedy provided under § 2255 “is inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of his detention.” See 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e) (which is often referred to as “the Savings Clause”). The mere fact that Petitioner's claim would be a second or successive § 2255 motion does not render § 2255 inadequate or ineffective. See In re Davenport, 147 F.3d 605, 609-10 (7th Cir. 1998). Moreover, the mere fact that a movant lost on his § 2255 motion does not render § 2255 an inadequate or ineffective remedy to challenge the legality of his sentence.

         Lastly, a habeas petition under § 2241 is not a substitute for an appeal of a rejected § 2255 motion or of an unsuccessful direct appeal. See, e.g., McGee v. Cross, No. 14-cv-00149-DRH, 2014 WL 793445 (S.D. Ill. Feb. 26, 2014).

         Discussion

         The first issue presented by the petition is whether it satisfies 28 U.S.C. § 2244(a). That provision states that

No circuit or district judge shall be required to entertain an application for a writ of habeas corpus to inquire into the detention of a person pursuant to a judgment of a court of the United States if it appears that the legality of such detention has been determined by a judge or court of the United States on a ...

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