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Hughes v. Werlich

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

March 21, 2018

RUBEN D. HUGHES, No. 7997-424, Petitioner,
v.
T.G. WERLICH, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          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), he should not have been subject to a sentencing enhancement under the United States Sentencing Guidelines (“USSG”) based on his prior Illinois drug-related conviction. (Docs. 1 and 1-1).

         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.

         Background

         In 1997, in the Northern District of Illinois, petitioner was charged in a six count superseding indictment (97-cr-670) with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine and cocaine base. (Doc. 1-1, p. 1). On June 15, 1998, prior to trial, the government filed a Notice, pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 851, advising petitioner that upon conviction, it would seek enhanced penalties based on (1) petitioner's 1990 felony drug conviction in Will County, Illinois (89-CF-576) for possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver and (2) the fact that the offense with which petitioner was charged involved more than five kilograms of cocaine and more than 50 grams of cocaine base (“crack”). (Doc. 1-1, p. 2; Doc. 1-2).

         In June 1998, petitioner was convicted on five counts of trafficking cocaine and cocaine base, and one count of illegal firearms possession. Following an evidentiary hearing concerning the amount of cocaine base processed by petitioner's organization, the Court sentenced him to life imprisonment on each of the five drug trafficking charges (Counts One through Five). The Court also sentenced petitioner to 10 years on the firearms violation (Count Six). See U.S. v. Hughes, 2004 WL 783070 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 13, 2004).

         On direct appeal the Seventh Circuit upheld the convictions and sentences on four of six counts. See United States v. Hughes, 213 F.3d 323, 335-36 (7th Cir.), vacated, 531 U.S. 975, 121 S.Ct. 423, 148 L.Ed.2d 432 (2000), reinstated in part, 5 Fed.Appx. 507 (7th Cir.2001). In 2008 petitioner moved for a reduced sentence under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2), invoking amendments to the sentencing guidelines. The district court found petitioner ineligible for resentencing and denied the motion. On July 13, 2010, the Seventh Circuit affirmed the judgment. U.S.v. hughes, 384 Fed.Appx. 509 (7th Cir. 2010).

         Most recently, petitioner moved for a reduced sentence under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2), invoking Amendment 782 to the United States Sentencing Guidelines. (97-cr-670, Doc. 216). That motion was granted on June 15, 2017, and petitioner's previously imposed sentence of imprisonment of Life was reduced to 360 months. (97-cr-670, Doc. 236).

         The Petition

         Petitioner now claims that under Mathis v. United States, __ U.S. __, 136 S.Ct. 2243, 2250 (2016), it was improper to enhance his federal sentence on the basis of his Illinois drug conviction. He argues that the statute under which he was convicted in Illinois (now found at 720 ILCS 570/401) is broader than the federal generic offense under 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1).

         The Illinois statute criminalizing possession with intent to deliver provided that it is unlawful “knowingly to manufacture or deliver, or possess with intent to manufacture or deliver, a controlled or counterfeit substance[.]” 720 ILCS 570/401 (1997); (formerly Ill. Rev. Stat. Ch. 56 1/2, para. 1401). Petitioner contrasts this statute with the federal offense language, which makes it unlawful to knowingly or intentionally “manufacture, distribute, or dispense, or possess with intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense, a controlled substance[.]” 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). He argues that the Illinois statute is indivisible, and defines the essential element of “delivery” broadly enough to include solicitation of unlawful delivery, offering to sell without possession, and to share a controlled substance without an exchange of consideration. He concludes that because § 841(a)(1) does not criminalize solicitation of unlawful delivery of a controlled substance, an offer to sell, or sharing a controlled substance, the elements of the Illinois crime is overly broad and does not match the federal statute. On this basis, petitioner seeks to be resentenced without the allegedly improper enhancement.

         Discussion

         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 a challenge to the enhancement of a federal sentence that had been based on prior Illinois drug convictions. 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)). Petitioner challenges the Redden decision and argues that this Court should not apply it to his case. However, Redden is controlling authority in this Circuit, and based on the Redden opinion, the instant Petition must be dismissed.

         The Redden court, referencing the Illinois statute's definitions relating to ...


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