United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
ANTON D. HUGHES, Petitioner,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Herndon, United States District Judge.
before the Court is Petitioner Hughes'
(“Hughes”) August 7, 2017 motion to reconsider
pursuant to Rule 59(e) (doc. 11). Hughes moves the Court to
reconsider its June 21, 2017 Memorandum and Order (doc. 8)
and judgment (doc. 9) denying his 28 U.S.C. § 2255
petition, alleging ineffective assistance of counsel based on
failure to object to a sentence enhancement based on
Hughes' prior § 856 conviction, and to enter a new
Judgment order designating a sentence of 84 months. Based on
the following, the Court denies the motion.
are two ways in which a Court may analyze a motion filed
after judgment has been entered either under Rule 59(e) or
under Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Where a substantive motion is filed within twenty-eight days
of entry of judgment or order, the Court will generally
construe it as a motion pursuant to Rule 59(e); later motions
will be construed as pursuant to Rule 60(b). Mares v.
Busby, 34 F.3d 533, 535 (7th Cir. 1994); United
States v. Deutsch, 981 F.2d 299, 301 (7th Cir. 1992).
Here, although filed outside the 28 day window from when the
Order and judgment dismissing his case was entered, the Court
considered Hughes' motion as timely filed due to his
being in transit between prisons when the June 21, 2017 Order
was entered. See doc. 26. Thus, the Court analyzes
his motion under Rule 59(e).
both Rules 59(e) and 60(b) have similar goals of erasing the
finality of a judgment and permitting further proceedings,
Rule 59(e) generally requires a lower threshold of proof than
does Rule 60(b). See Helm v. Resolution Trust Corp.,
43 F.3d 1163, 1166 (7th Cir. 1995); see also Ball v. City
of Chicago, 2 F.3d 752, 760 (7th Cir. 1993)
(distinguishing the “exacting standard” of Rule
60(b) from the “more liberal standard” of Rule
59(e)). The purpose of a motion to alter or amend judgment
under Rule 59(e) is to ask the court to reconsider matters
“properly encompassed in a decision on the
merits.” Osterneck v. Ernst & Whinney, 489
U.S. 169, 174 (1989). “A Rule 59(e) motion will be
successful only where the movant clearly establishes: (1)
that the court committed a manifest error of law or fact, or
(2) that newly discovered evidence precluded entry of
judgment.” Cincinnati Life Ins. Co. v. Beyrer,
722 F.3d 939, 954 (7th Cir. 2013) (citation and quotation
marks omitted). A manifest error “is not demonstrated
by the disappointment of the losing party. It is the
wholesale disregard, misapplication, or failure to recognize
controlling precedent.” Oto v. Metropolitan Life
Ins. Co., 224 F.3d 601, 606 (7th Cir. 2000) (citation
and quotation marks omitted). Furthermore, relief pursuant to
a Rule 59(e) motion to alter or amend is an
“extraordinary remed[y] reserved for the exceptional
case.” Foster v. DeLuca, 545 F.3d 582, 584
(7th Cir. 2008).
support his motion, Hughes points out two alleged legal
errors made by the Court, however both focus on United States
Sentencing Guideline (“USSG”) § 4B1.2: 1.
Improper use of treating Sentencing Guideline Application
Notes as something to be “applied, ” and 2. That
use of Application Note 1 of USSG § 4B1.2 violates the
categorical approach laid out in Mathis v. United
States, 136 S.Ct.2243 (2016). Hughes does not address
any errors or relate any arguments pertaining to the use of
his 2010 violation of 21 U.S.C. § 856(a)(1) as a
“felony drug offense” predicate for purposes of
enhanced sentencing under 21 U.S.C. 841(b)(1). Accordingly, the
Court will focus its review on use of Hughes' prior
§ 856 offense as a “controlled substance
offense” within the meaning of the career offender
Order denying Hughes' § 2255 (doc. 8), the Court
repudiated Hughes' argument that under the
“modified categorical approach, ” his § 856
conviction is not a controlled substance offense within the
meaning of the career offender guideline. Indeed, the Court
found that Hughes' previous § 856 conviction fit
squarely within § 4B1.2's definition of
“controlled dangerous substance offense.” Doc. 8
at 3 (emphasis added). Hughes' insistence on application
of this approach in his motion to reconsider has not only led
the Court to reaffirm its decision regarding classification
of the § 856 conviction, but also consider new arguments
brought to light by the government; specifically, that the
categorical approach need not even apply to Hughes' case.
For the reasons stated below, the Court agrees.
argues that under the categorical approach refined in
Mathis, courts focus on whether the elements of the
crime of conviction, here violation of § 856,
sufficiently match the elements of a controlled substance
offense, while ignoring the particular facts of the case
(doc. 11 at 2-3). The predicate offense cannot qualify if its
elements are broader than those of the generic offense. Here,
Hughes argues that § 856 provides alternative means of
violating the statute that go beyond the definition of
“controlled substance offense” as defined in
§ 4B1.2, so consequently, cannot serve as a predicate
offense for use in determining career offender status.
Id. at 5. In response, the government contends that
the categorical approach simply does not apply to Hughes'
case to determine if the prior § 856 conviction
qualifies as a “controlled substance offense, ”
because the Sentencing Commission has already made that
determination favorably within its Application Notes (doc. 31
Court noted in its Order denying the § 2255 petition,
the Sentencing Commission defines “controlled substance
offense” in § 4B1.2(b) as:
[A]n offense under federal or state law, punishable by
imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, that prohibits
the manufacture, import, export, distribution, or dispensing
of a controlled substance (or a counterfeit substance) or the
possession of a controlled substance (or a counterfeit
substance) with intent to manufacture, import, export,
distribute, or dispense a controlled substance.
Doc. 8 at n. 1; U.S.S.G. 4B1.2
note 1 to § ...