United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
HERNDON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Aaron Benson filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus under
28 U.S.C. §2241 (Doc. 1) challenging his designation as
a career offender under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1. He purports to
rely on Mathis v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 2243
(2016). Now before the Court is Respondent's Motion to
Dismiss, Doc. 10. Petitioner responded to the motion at Doc.
argues the petition must be dismissed because petitioner
waived his right to file a collateral attack in his plea
Facts and Procedural History
to a written plea agreement, Benson pleaded guilty to one
count of distribution of more than 5 grams of methamphetamine
in the Western District of Missouri. United States v.
Benson, No. 11-cr-203-GAF (W.D. Mo.). The statutory
range of imprisonment was 5 to 40 years. 21 U.S.C. §
841(b)(1)(B). The agreement provided that he would be
sentenced to 140 months imprisonment. Plea Agreement, Doc.
10, Ex. 1.
plea agreement also contained a waiver of the right to appeal
or file a collateral attack:
Waiver of Appellate and Post-Conviction Rights.
a. The defendant acknowledges, understands and agrees that by
his unconditional plea of guilty pursuant to this
plea agreement he waives the right to appeal or collaterally
attack a finding of guilt following the acceptance of this
plea agreement, except on grounds of (1) ineffective
assistance of counsel; or (2) prosecutorial misconduct.
b. The defendant expressly waives the right to appeal any
sentence, directly or collaterally, on any ground except
claims of (1) ineffective assistance of counsel; (2)
prosecutorial misconduct; or (3) an illegal sentence. An
“illegal sentence” includes a sentence imposed in
excess of the agreed sentence herein (one hundred and forty
(140) months imprisonment, four (4) years supervised release
and $100.00 in special assessments). However, if the United
States exercises its right to appeal the sentence imposed as
authorized by 18 U.S.C. § 3742(b), the defendant is
released from this waiver and may, as part of the
Government's appeal, cross-appeal the sentence as
authorized by 18 U.S.C. § 3742(a) with respect to any
issues that have not been stipulated to or agreed upon in
Doc. 10, Ex. 1, p. 9 (emphasis in original).
his plea agreement, Benson filed a direct appeal arguing that
his plea was involuntary, his counsel was ineffective, and
the Guidelines calculation was incorrect. The Eighth Circuit
affirmed because “Benson's sworn plea-hearing
testimony reflects that he entered into the plea agreement
knowingly and voluntarily, and understood and agreed to the
terms of the appeal waiver.” United States v.
Benson, 553 Fed.Appx. 660, 661 (8th Cir. 2014). The
court did, however, defer the issue of ineffective assistance
of counsel to proceedings under § 2255.
filed a motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 in the Western
District of Missouri arguing that his counsel had been
ineffective in failing to object to the drug weights and
types (actual methamphetamine versus a mixture containing
methamphetamine), failing to properly advise him of the
sentence he faced, and failing to object to the career
offender designation. He also argued prosecutorial
misconduct. The court denied the motion. With regard to the
career offender designation, the court noted that counsel
had, in fact, objected, and, in any event, any error in the
Guideline calculation could not have prejudiced petitioner
because he was sentenced to an agreed term of 140 months. The
court also denied a certificate of appealability. Benson
v. United States, No. 15-00408-GAF, Doc. 14. (W.D. Mo.).
relying on Mathis v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 2243
(2016), Benson argues that one or both of his prior
convictions for drug offenses do not qualify as controlled
substance offenses for purposes of the career offender
enhancement under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1. However, it is
unnecessary to decide the substantive ...