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Hoskins v. Werlich

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

July 28, 2017

BARON HOSKINS, No. 10177-029, Petitioner,
T.G. WERLICH, Respondent.


          David R. Herndon, District Judge

         Petitioner, currently incarcerated in the FCI-Greenville, brings this habeas corpus action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 to challenge the constitutionality of his confinement. He asserts that in light of Mathis v. United States, __ U.S. __, 136 S.Ct. 2243, 2250 (2016), his prior Iowa convictions for drug offenses and a Florida battery conviction should not have been used to impose an enhanced sentence under the career offender sentencing guidelines.

         This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the Petition pursuant to Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in United States District Courts. Rule 4 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 corpus cases, such as this action under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Without commenting on the merits of Petitioner's claims, the Court concludes that the Petition survives preliminary review under Rule 4 and Rule 1(b).


         Petitioner pled guilty in the Northern District of Iowa to conspiracy to distribute cocaine base within 1, 000 feet of a protected location, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(B), 846, 851, and 860. United States v. Hoskins, Case No. CR 08-1001-1-LRR (N.D. Iowa). In November 2008, Petitioner was originally sentenced to 262 months, but the sentence was reduced to 188 months in December 2010. (See Judgment in criminal case, Doc. 41; and Amended Judgment, Doc. 49); (Doc. 1, p. 10).

         Petitioner did not appeal his sentence, nor did he challenge it through a motion brought under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. (Doc. 1, p. 4). In connection with his guilty plea, Petitioner executed a “Waiver of Appeal” (Doc. 33 in criminal case), in which he waived his rights to appeal and to collaterally attack his sentence. That waiver contained an exception in the event his sentence was “unconstitutionally defective.” (Doc. 33, p. 2, in criminal case).

         The Petition

          Petitioner argues that under Mathis v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 2243 (2016), he should not have been subject to a career-offender sentence enhancement based on the 3 drug-related Iowa convictions and the Florida battery conviction. He asserts, based on a Florida district court decision, that his 1995 Florida conviction for battery on a police officer “no longer qualifies as a violent felony for ACCA [Armed Career Criminal Act] purposes.” (Doc. 1, p. 7); Lopez v. United States, 2016 U.S. DIST LEXIS 162636 (S.D. Fla.).

         Petitioner also has two Iowa state convictions from 1999 for delivery of cocaine, and a 1998 Iowa state conviction for possession with intent to deliver cocaine. (Doc. 1, p. 7). He notes that the Iowa controlled substance statute in effect at the time of his convictions could have been violated in several distinct ways: manufacture, delivery, possession with intent to deliver, possession with intent to manufacture, and conspiracy. (Doc. 1, p. 8). He contrasts this statute with the United States Sentencing Guidelines (USSG) § 41.2, which states that a career offender enhancement may be applied where the defendant has a prior conviction for the “manufacture, import, export, distribution, or dispensing [of a] controlled substance . . . or the possession of a controlled substance with intent to manufacture, import, export, distribute, or dispense.” (Doc. 1, p. 8). According to Petitioner, his convictions for “delivery” and “possession with intent to deliver” are not enumerated offenses within the USSG, and should not have been used to enhance his sentence.

         Petitioner notes that absent the career-offender enhancement, he would have faced a minimum sentence of 10 years. However, after the application of the career-offender guidelines, he had a Base Offense Level of 31, and a Criminal History of VI, yielding a guideline range of 188-235 months. (Doc. 1, p. 10). He seeks to be resentenced without the career-offender enhancement. (Doc. 1, p. 12).


          As a general matter, “28 U.S.C. § 2241 and 28 U.S.C. § 2255 provide federal prisoners with distinct forms of collateral relief. Section 2255 applies to challenges to the validity of convictions and sentences, whereas § 2241 applies to challenges to the fact or duration of confinement.” Hill v. Werlinger, 695 F.3d 644, 645 (7th Cir. 2012) (citing Walker v. O'Brien, 216 F.3d 626, 629 (7th Cir. 2000). See also Brown v. Rios, 696 F.3d 638, 640 (7th Cir. 2012); Valona v. United States, 138 F.3d 693, 694 (7th Cir. 1998). Here, Petitioner is attacking his enhanced sentence, which points to § 2255 as the proper avenue for relief.

         Under very limited circumstances, a prisoner may employ § 2241 to challenge his federal conviction or sentence. 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 Hill, 695 F.3d at 648 (“‘Inadequate or ineffective' means that ‘a legal theory that could not have been presented under § 2255 establishes the petitioner's actual innocence.'”) (citing Taylor v. Gilkey, 314 F.3d 832, 835 (7th Cir. 2002). See also United States v. Prevatte, 300 F.3d 792, 798-99 (7th Cir. 2002). The fact that Petitioner may be barred from bringing a § 2255 petition at this time is not, in itself, sufficient to render it an inadequate remedy. See In re Davenport, 147 F.3d 605, 609-10 (7th Cir. 1998) (§ 2255 limitation on filing successive motions does not render it an inadequate remedy for a prisoner who had filed a prior § 2255 motion). Instead, a petitioner under § 2241 must demonstrate the inability of a § 2255 motion to cure the defect in the conviction. “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.” Davenport, 147 F.3d at 611.

         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 ...

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