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Robinson v. United States

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

July 11, 2017

CHARLES R. ROBINSON, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          OPINION

          Richard Mills United States District Judge.

         Charles R. Robinson filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 in the Southern District of Illinois.

         The case was subsequently transferred to the Central District of Illinois and is now before the Court.

         Respondent United States of America concedes that the action is properly brought under § 2241.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In 1999, Petitioner Charles R. Robinson was convicted of possession of, intent to distribute and distribution of crack cocaine. See United States v. Robinson, Case No. 97-30025. He was sentenced to serve 100 years imprisonment.

         The Petitioner's convictions and sentence were affirmed and his collateral attacks were unsuccessful. In 2016, the Petitioner's sentence was reduced to 30 years imprisonment based on a retroactive sentencing guideline amendment.

         In this habeas corpus petition, the Petitioner alleges that, pursuant to Begay v. United States, 553 U.S. 137 (2008) and Brown v. Caraway, 719 F.3d 583 (7th Cir. 2013), his imprisonment term should not have been enhanced under the sentencing guidelines because his prior conviction for attempted arson under Illinois law is neither a “violent felony” nor “arson” and does not qualify as a crime of violence pursuant to the career offender guideline. Because he claims attempted arson cannot be counted as one of the three “violent felony” convictions necessary for a sentencing enhancement, the Petitioner contends he does not qualify as a career offender.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Legal principles

         “[A] federal prisoner may petition under § 2241 if his section 2255 remedy is inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of his detention.” Brown, 719 F.3d at 586 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Three conditions must be established in order for this exception to apply. See id. The prisoner must first show that he relies on a “statutory interpretation case, ” not a constitutional one. See id. He must also show that he relies on a retroactive decision that could not have been invoked when he filed his § 2255 motion. See id. Finally, the sentence enhancement must constitute a sufficiently grave error to be deemed a miscarriage of justice and thus be cognizable in a habeas proceeding. See id. As noted, the Government concedes and the Court agrees that the conditions are met and § 2241 is a proper vehicle for the Petitioner to raise his claims.

         At the time of sentencing, an individual was deemed a career offender under the United States Sentencing Guidelines if:

(1) [he] was at least eighteen years old at the time [he] committed the instant offense of conviction; (2) the instant offense of conviction is a felony that is either a crime of violence or a controlled substance offense; and (3) [he] has at least two prior felony convictions of either a crime of violence or a controlled substance.

         U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1(a). The Petitioner challenged only the third prong ...


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