United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
R. Herndon Judge.
Lydell Staples, who is currently incarcerated in the Federal
Correctional Institution in Marion, Illinois, filed a
petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2241. (Doc. 1). In the Petition, he argues that under
the recent decision of the Supreme Court in Mathis v.
United States, 136 S.Ct. 2243 (2016), his enhanced
career-offender sentence is unconstitutional. (Doc. 1).
of the Rules Governing § 2254 Cases in United States
District Courts 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
commenting on the merits of Petitioner's claims, the
Court concludes that the Petition survives preliminary review
under Rule 4 and Rule 1(b) of the Rules Governing Section
2254 Cases in the United States District Courts.
criminal case in the Western District of Kentucky, United
States v. Staples, No. 5:11-cr-43-TBR, Petitioner pled
guilty, without a plea agreement, to two offenses: Count 1 -
Distribution of Cocaine Base and Count 2 - Distribution of
Marijuana. (Doc. 1, p. 21). He was sentenced to concurrent
terms of 151 months and 60 months on Counts 1 and 2,
respectively. (Doc. 1, p. 22). The career-offender
enhancement was imposed pursuant to the United States
Sentencing Guidelines (“USSG”) at § 4B1.1,
based on prior convictions for “Engaging in Organized
Crime” and “Trafficking in Marijuana, More than 8
Ounces, Less than 5 Pounds, ” which the trial court
deemed to be either “crime[s] of violence” or
“controlled substance offense[s]” within the
guideline meaning. (Doc. 1, pp. 15, 16-17). As a result of
the career-offender determination, Petitioner's total
offense level was raised from 21 to 29, and the corresponding
sentencing guideline range increased from 57-71 months to
151-188 months incarceration. (Doc. 1, pp. 3-4, 15, 18).
has not previously brought a § 2255 petition. He now
argues that pursuant to Mathis, he should be
resentenced without enhancement. (Doc. 1, p. 2).
high court in Mathis held that “[b]ecause the
elements of Iowa's burglary law are broader than those of
generic burglary, Mathis's convictions under that law
cannot give rise to an ACCA sentence.” Mathis,
136 S.Ct. at 2257. The Court came to this conclusion
reasoning “that a state crime cannot qualify as an ACCA
predicate if its elements are broader than those of a listed
generic offense.” Id. at 2251. In its opinion,
the Court instructed:
The first task for a sentencing court faced with an
alternatively phrased statute is thus to determine whether
its listed items are elements or means. If they are elements,
the court should do what we have previously approved: review
the record materials to discover which of the enumerated
alternatives played a part in the defendant's prior
conviction, and then compare that element (along with all
others) to those of the generic crime. But if instead they
are means, the court has no call to decide which of the
statutory alternatives was at issue in the earlier
Id. at 2256. The Mathis Court considered it
an easy case that Iowa's burglary law enumerated various
“alternative method[s]” of committing one
offense, as the Iowa Supreme Court had held as much
“[t]he Supreme Court's decision in Mathis
dealt with the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), not the
federal sentencing Guidelines.” United
States v. Hinkle, 832 F.3d 569, 574 (5th Cir. 2016).
However, Mathis is likely also applicable to the
career offender guidelines, in that the “decision in
Mathis clarified when and how the modified
categorical approach is applied in the context of federal
sentencing, ” and did not necessarily limit itself to
cases involving the ACCA. Id. Petitioner argues that
Mathis applies to his case and enables this Court to
review the Western District of Kentucky's determination
that his organized crime offense could act as a predicate for
the career offender enhancement, claiming that Kentucky's
organized crime statute “is not a ‘controlled
substance'” statute and that the statute “is
too broad” for his offense under it to be considered a
controlled substance offense under Mathis. (Doc. 1,
p. 8). Petitioner also argues his marijuana trafficking
offense cannot be considered a controlled substance offense
per the definition in 4b1.2(b) because he was “merely
transferring marijuana from one party to another” and
“4B1.2(b) does not use the word transfer.” (Doc.
1, p. 9).
commenting on the merits of either of Petitioner's
claims, given the totality of his arguments, it is not
plainly apparent that he is not entitled to relief in this
Court. See Rule 4 of the Rules Governing § 2254
Cases in United States District Courts. In light of this, the
government shall be ordered to respond to the instant
should bear in mind the following cautionary note.
“Federal prisoners who seek to bring collateral attacks
on their conviction or sentences must ordinarily bring an
action under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, ‘the federal
prisoner's substitute for habeas corpus.'”
Brown v. Caraway, 719 F.3d 583, 586 (7th Cir. 2013)
(quoting Brown v. Rios, 696 F.3d 638, 640 (7th Cir.
2012)). The exception to this rule, known as the
“savings clause, ” allows a federal prisoner to
file a petition under § 2241 if the remedy provided by
§ 2255 “is inadequate or ineffective to test the
legality of his detention.” See 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255(e). In considering what it means to be
“inadequate or ineffective, ” the Seventh Circuit
has held that a federal prisoner should be permitted to seek
relief under § 2241 “only if he ...