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Simmons v. True

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

January 22, 2018

B. TRUE, Respondent.


          Herndon United States District Judge.

         Petitioner, currently incarcerated in the USP-Marion, 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), he should not have been subject to the career-offender enhancement under the United States Sentencing Guidelines (“USSG”) based on his 2 previous Illinois drug-related convictions. (Doc. 1).

         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. After carefully reviewing the Petition, the Court concludes that this action is subject to dismissal.

         The Petition

         On July 18, 1997, in the Southern District of Iowa, Petitioner was sentenced to 351 months imprisonment for conspiracy to distribute cocaine base, and for distribution. (Doc. 239, United States v. Gadison, Simmons, et al., No. 96-cr-112-CRW (S.D. Iowa). The sentencing court noted that it applied the 360-month guideline sentence, and subtracted the 9 months that Petitioner had already served in the State of Illinois. This sentence was to run concurrently with the Illinois sentence Petitioner was then serving in a 1995 case. Id.

         Petitioner states that his advisory sentencing guideline range was increased to the 360-month-to-life level under Section 4B1.1(b) of the United States Sentencing Guidelines (“USSG”), because he had 2 prior convictions in Illinois for delivery of cocaine and cocaine base. (Doc. 1, pp. 2, 6, 9). Without that career-offender enhancement, his guideline range would have been only 235-293 months. (Doc. 1, p. 9). He argues that Section 4B1.2 of the USSG was misconstrued to include his previous Illinois convictions as predicate offenses for the career offender designation, when in fact those Illinois convictions contain different elements and do not qualify as “controlled substance offenses” within the meaning of the USSG. (Doc. 1, pp. 6, 7). He does not further articulate this argument.

         Petitioner previously challenged his conviction and sentence without success, on direct appeal, United States v. Puckett, et al., 147 F.3d 765 (8th Cir. 1998); and with a motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. He was denied permission to bring a successive § 2255 motion in 2014 (No. 14-cv-128, S.D. Iowa), and on November 6, 2017 (8th Circuit No. 17-2364). He brought an earlier petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 in the Central District of Illinois, which was dismissed. Simmons v. Hastings, No. 03-cv-1277 (C.D. Ill. Aug. 26, 2003).


         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 conviction and 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); 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).

         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 deemed a miscarriage of justice. Brown v. Caraway, 719 F.3d 583, 586 (7th Cir. 2013). See also Brown v. Rios, 696 F.3d 638, 640 (7th Cir. 2012).

         This Court has found that a collateral attack invoking Mathis v. United States, ___ U.S. ___, 136 S.Ct. 2243, 2250 (2016), facially satisfies the three conditions which would allow consideration in a § 2241 proceeding under the savings clause of § 2255(e). See e.g., Hoskins v. Werlich, No. 17-cv-652-DRH (S.D. Ill. July 28, 2017); Wadlington v. Werlich, No. 17-cv-449-DRH (S.D. Ill. July 17, 2017); Davis v. USA, 17-cv-379-DRH (S.D. Ill. June 14, 2017); Warren v. Werlich, No. 17-cv-84-DRH (S.D. Ill. Mar. 27, 2017). However, the Seventh Circuit on November 8, 2017, issued an opinion squarely rejecting the very argument raised by Petitioner herein. United States v. Redden, 875 F.3d 374 (7th Cir. 2017) (career offender enhancement of sentence based on Illinois controlled substance convictions was proper, distinguishing United States v. Hinkle, 832 F.3d 569 (5th Cir. 2016)). Under this authority, the instant Petition must be dismissed.

         The Redden court, referencing the Illinois statute's definitions relating to controlled substance offenses, stated:

The definition that underlies the offense established by 720 ILCS 570/401 tells us that “deliver” and “delivery” mean an “actual, constructive or attempted transfer”. 720 ILCS 570/102(h). Any conduct meeting the state's definition of “delivery” comes within § 4B1.2(b) ...

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