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Holmes v. True

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

January 22, 2018

CLEVIS HOLMES, Petitioner,
v.
B. TRUE, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Herndon, United States District Judge

         Petitioner Clevis Holmes filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 (Doc. 1) challenging the enhancement of his sentence 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).

         Respondent filed a response at Doc. 11 and a supplemental response at Doc. 13. Petitioner filed replies at Docs. 14 and 17.

         Relevant Facts and Procedural History

         Holmes pleaded guilty to one count of distribution of cocaine, one count of distribution of heroin, and one count of aiding and abetting the distribution of cocaine base (“crack”) in this district. United States v. Holmes, No. 14-cr-30155-DRH (S.D. Ill.). There was not a written plea agreement. On April 17, 2015, he was sentenced to 188 months imprisonment on each count, to run concurrently.

         At sentencing, the court determined that petitioner qualified as a career offender based on two prior convictions for drug offenses under Illinois law. He had a 2002 conviction for unlawful delivery of a controlled substance while located within 1000 feet of a housing project in violation of 720 ILCS 570/407, and a 2006 conviction for unlawful delivery of a controlled substance in violation of 720 ILCS 570/401. His advisory sentencing range was 188 to 235 months. No. 14-30155-DRH, Transcript of Sentencing Hearing, Doc. 46, p. 7.

         Petitioner filed a direct appeal. His attorney filed an Anders brief. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. United States v. Holmes, 623 Fed.Appx. 813 (7th Cir. 2015)

         Petitioner did not file a motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255.

         Legal Standards Applicable to Section 2241

         Generally, petitions for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 may not be used to raise claims of legal error in conviction or sentencing, but are limited to challenges regarding the execution of a sentence. See, Valona v. United States, 138 F.3d 693, 694 (7th Cir.1998).

         A prisoner who has been convicted in federal court is generally limited to challenging his conviction and sentence by bringing a motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 in the court which sentenced him. A motion under § 2255 is ordinarily the “exclusive means for a federal prisoner to attack his conviction.” Kramer v. Olson, 347 F.3d 214, 217 (7th Cir. 2003). And, a prisoner is generally limited to bringing only one motion under § 2255. A prisoner may not file a “second or successive” motion unless a panel of the appropriate court of appeals certifies that such motion contains either 1) newly discovered evidence “sufficient to establish by clear and convincing evidence that no reasonable factfinder would have found the movant guilty of the offense, ” or 2) “a new rule of constitutional law, made retroactive to cases on collateral review by the Supreme Court, that was previously unavailable.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(h).

         However, it is possible, under very limited circumstances, for a prisoner to challenge his federal conviction or sentence under § 2241. 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.” The Seventh Circuit construed the savings clause in In re Davenport, 147 F.3d 605, 611 (7th Cir. 1998): “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.”

         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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