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Hoskinss v. Werlich

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

November 16, 2017

BARON HOSKINS, Petitioner,
T.G. WERLICH, Respondent.



         Petitioner Baron Hoskins (Petitioner) filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 challenging the enhancement of his sentence as a Career Offender under U.S.S.G. §§ 4B1.1 and 4B1.2. (Doc. 1).[2] He purports to rely on Mathis v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 2243 (2016). Id. Now before the Court is Respondent's Motion to Dismiss Petitioner's Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus. (Doc. 14). Petitioner responded to the motion at Doc. 17.

         Respondent argues the petition must be dismissed because Petitioner waived his right to file a collateral attack. (Doc. 14).

         Relevant Facts and Procedural History

         Petitioner pled guilty in the Northern District of Iowa to conspiracy to distribute more than five grams of cocaine base within 1, 000 feet of a protected location. United States v. Hoskins, Case No. CR 08-1001-1-LRR (N.D. Iowa); (Doc. 14, Ex. C). The district court initially sentenced Petitioner to 262 months, and then subsequently reduced the sentence to 188 months. (See Judgment in criminal case, Doc. 41; Amended Judgment, Doc. 49).

         Petitioner executed a “Waiver of Appeal” in connection with his guilty plea. (Doc. 33 in criminal case). The agreement contained a waiver of the right to appeal or file a collateral attack:

To induce the government into accepting the provisions of this plea agreement, to avoid a trial, and to have this proceeding finally concluded, I voluntarily and knowingly waive my rights under this statute to appeal or contest, directly or collaterally, the sentence.
Further, I waive all rights to contest the conviction or sentence in any post-conviction proceeding, including actions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 2255 or 2241. I consent to sentencing without any right of appeal or post-conviction proceeding except if the court finds that the United States has violated this plea agreement or if the sentence is not in accordance with the plea agreement, is imposed in excess of the maximum penalty provided by statute, or is unconstitutionally defective.

Id. Petitioner filed an interlocutory appeal from the sentencing court, contesting the court's denial of a reduction in his sentence. (Doc. 54 in criminal case). The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals summarily affirmed the judgment. (Doc. 57 in criminal case).


         Citing Mathis v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 2243 (2016), Petitioner argues that his prior state convictions do not qualify as violent offenses or controlled substance offenses for purposes of the Career Offender enhancement under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.2. It is unnecessary to consider the substantive merits of his argument because the Waiver of Appeal bars this collateral attack.

         There is no doubt a plea agreement may include a valid waiver of the right to appeal and to file a collateral attack, and that such waivers are generally enforceable, with limited exceptions. Solano v. United States, 812 F.3d 573, 577 (7th Cir. 2016). The limited exceptions are where the plea agreement itself was involuntary, the defendant argues ineffective assistance of counsel with regard to the negotiation of the plea, the sentencing court relied on a constitutionally impermissible factor such as race, or the sentence exceeded the statutory maximum. Keller v. United States, 657 F.3d 675, 681 (7th Cir. 2011). A waiver of the right to bring a collateral attack on a conviction or sentence bars a § 2241 petition; the waiver does not make the remedy afforded by § 2255 inadequate or ineffective so as to open the door to a § 2241 petition. Muse v. Daniels, 815 F.3d 265, 266 (7th Cir. 2016). Further, a subsequent change in the law does not render an appeal waiver involuntary. United States v. Vela, 740 F.3d 1150, 1151 (7th Cir. 2014).

         The Seventh Circuit has enforced appeal waivers against challenges to career offender designations. United States v. Smith, 759 F.3d 702 (7th Cir. 2014); United States v. McGraw, 571 F.3d 624 (7th Cir. 2009); United States v. Standiford, 148 F.3d 864 (7th Cir. 1998). McGraw is instructive; there, the defendant argued that the convictions used categorize him as a career offender no longer constituted crimes of violence after Begay v. United States, 128 S.Ct. 1581 (2008). The Seventh Circuit enforced the waiver, noting that “We have consistently rejected arguments that an appeal waiver is invalid because the defendant did not anticipate subsequent legal developments.” McGraw, 571 F.3d at 631.

         In response to the motion, Petitioner argues the appeal waiver does not apply. He contends his sentence is “unconstitutionally defective, ” which ...

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