Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Scott v. Werlich

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

April 5, 2017

HAGI SCOTT, #38055-044, Petitioner,
v.
T. WERLICH, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          David R. Herndon United States District Judge

         Petitioner Hagi Scott is currently incarcerated in the Federal Correctional Institution located in Greenville, Illinois (“FCI-Greenville”). Scott filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, in order to challenge his conviction and sentence in United States v. Scott, Case No. 10-cr-496-JCH-TCM (E.D. Mo. 2010) (“criminal case”).

         This matter is now before the Court for preliminary review of the habeas petition. Rule 4 of the Federal Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in United States District Courts provides that upon preliminary consideration by the district judge, “[i]f it plainly appears from the face of the petition and any exhibits annexed to it that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court, the judge shall make an order for its summary dismissal and cause the petitioner to be notified.” Rule 1(b) of those Rules gives this Court the authority to apply the rules to other habeas corpus cases.

         I. Background

         On September 23, 2010, Scott was charged with knowingly or intentionally distributing a mixture or substance containing heroin that resulted in the death of another in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a) and (b)(1)(C) (Count 1), knowingly or intentionally distributing a mixture or substance containing heroin in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a) (Count 2), and knowingly or intentionally distributing a mixture or substance containing cocaine base (crack cocaine) in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a) (Count 3).[1] (Doc. 1-1, p. 2). On January 19, 2011, Scott entered into a written plea agreement in which he agreed to plead guilty to Count 1. (Doc. 28, criminal case; Doc. 1-2, pp. 4-14). In exchange, the government agreed to dismiss the remaining counts of the indictment at the time of sentencing. Id. On April 21, 2011, Scott received a sentence of 240 months and 36 months of supervised release following his entry of a guilty plea as to Count 1. (Doc. 39, criminal case). The government dismissed all other counts against him. Id. Judgment was entered the same day. Id. Scott did not file a direct appeal.

         On September 2, 2014, Scott filed a Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Scott v. United States, Case No. 14-cv-1512-JCH (E.D. Mo. 2014) (“§ 2255 Motion”). (Doc. 1-1, p. 2). He challenged his conviction and sentence based on the United States Supreme Court's decision in Burrage v. United States, -- U.S. --, 134 S.Ct. 881, 887 (2014). At issue in Burrage was whether a defendant may be sentenced under the enhanced penalty provision in § 841(b)(1)(C), which results in the imposition of a 20-year mandatory minimum sentence when death “results from” the use of the unlawfully distributed drug, if the use of the drug “contributes to, but is not a but-for cause of, the victim's death.” Burrage, 134 S.Ct. at 885. The Supreme Court held that “but for” causation is required. Id. at 892. The “death results” enhancement has two elements: (1) knowing or intentional distribution of the controlled substance under § 841(a)(1); and (2) death resulting from the use of the drug under § 841(b)(1)(C). Id. at 887. Scott argued that the “death results” enhancement no longer applied to him under Burrage. (Doc. 1, p. 4).

         The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri denied the § 2255 Motion on May 23, 2016. Id. The District Court reasoned that Scott waived the right to bring a collateral attack in his written plea agreement.[2] That aside, even if Burrage announced a new rule of law made retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review, Scott's challenge also lacked merit. (Doc. 1-1, p. 2). The District Court denied the § 2255 Motion and declined to issue a certificate of appealability.

         Scott nevertheless filed an application for a certificate of appealability with the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. See Scott v. United States, App. No. 16-3051 (8th Cir. 2016). The Eighth Circuit denied his application and dismissed the appeal on January 18, 2017. (Doc. 1, p. 4). The instant habeas petition followed. (Doc. 1, 1-1).

         II. Habeas Petition

         Scott now challenges his conviction and sentence under the penalty enhancement provision, referred to herein as the “death results” enhancement, of the Controlled Substances Act. (Doc. 1, pp. 4, 6). The “death results” enhancement is applicable where death or serious bodily injury results from the use of a distributed substance. See Burrage v. United States, -- U.S. --, 134 S.Ct. 881 (Jan, 27, 2014). Scott contends that Burrage requires the government to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that his “knowing or intentional” distribution of heroin was the “but for” cause of death of the victim at issue. (Doc. 1, p. 6). At the time he entered into a written plea agreement in his criminal case, the government was only required to prove that the distribution of heroin was a contributing factor in the death of another. Id. Scott maintains that heroin was merely a “contributing factor” and not the “but for” cause of the death at issue in his underlying criminal case. Id. Therefore, the death results enhancement no longer applied to his sentence. Id.

         According to Scott, the remedy under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 is inadequate or ineffective to challenge his conviction and sentence because Burrage is a statutory interpretation case that was decided after the time expired for filing a collateral attack under § 2255. (Doc. 1, p. 4). He asks this Court to grant his Petition, vacate his sentence, and resentence him without the “death results” enhancement under 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(C). (Doc. 1, p. 8).

         III. Discussion

         Generally, a federally convicted person may challenge his conviction and sentence by bringing a motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 in the court that sentenced him. Brown v. Rios, 696 F.3d 638, 640 (7th Cir. 2012); Hill v. Werlinger, 695 F.3d 644, 645 (7th Cir. 2012); Kramer v. Olson, 347 F.3d 214, 217 (7th Cir. 2003); Walker v. O'Brien, 216 F.3d 626, 629 (7th Cir. 2000). A § 2255 motion is ordinarily the “exclusive means for a federal prisoner to attack his conviction.” Kramer, 347 F.3d at 217. However, § 2255 generally limits a prisoner to one challenge of his conviction and sentence.

         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 ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.