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Taylor v. True

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

May 16, 2018

KEVYN TAYLOR, No. 07941-025, Petitioner,
v.
B. TRUE, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          HERNDON, DISTRICT JUDGE

         Petitioner Kevyn Taylor is currently incarcerated in the United States Penitentiary located at Marion, Illinois (“USP-Marion”). He brings this habeas corpus action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. (Doc. 1). Relying on the United States Supreme Court's decision in Dean v. United States, ___ U.S. ___, 137 S.Ct. 1170 (2017), Taylor challenges the sentence imposed against him in United States v. Taylor, No. 08-cr-30061-JPG-DGW (S.D. Ill. 2008) (“criminal case”). (Doc. 1, p. 7). He asks the Court to vacate his sentence. Id.

         This matter is now before the Court for review of the § 2241 Petition pursuant to Rule 4 of the Rules Governing § 2254 Cases in United States District Courts, which 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. For the reasons set forth below, the § 2241 Petition shall be dismissed.

         I. Background

         Following a jury trial on June 17, 2009, Taylor was found guilty of 6 counts related to his involvement in a crack cocaine dealing operation, including conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine, distribution of crack cocaine, possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. See United States v. Taylor, No. 08-cr-30061-JPG-DGW (S.D. Ill. 2008) (“criminal case”) (Docs. 53, 69, criminal case). On September 29, 2009, he was sentenced to a total of 240 months of imprisonment and 5 years of supervised release.[1] Id. Judgment was entered the same day. (Doc. 69, criminal case).

         Taylor appealed. On March 29, 2011, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed Taylor's conviction and sentence. United States v. Taylor, 637 F.3d 812 (7th Cir. 2011). Taylor filed a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court. Taylor v. United States, 132 S.Ct. 257 (2011). The Petition was denied on October 3, 2011. Id.

         Taylor subsequently filed a Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 on September 30, 2012. Taylor v. United States, No. 12-cv-01049-JPG (S.D. Ill. 2012) (“§ 2255 Motion”). In the § 2255 Motion, he raised the same arguments that he addressed in his direct appeal. (Doc. 1, § 2255 Motion). On December 13, 2012, the sentencing court denied the § 2255 Motion, after declining to reconsider the same arguments absent any change in his circumstances. (Doc. 2, pp. 3-4, § 2255 Motion).

         Taylor subsequently filed a Motion to Reduce Sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2), and the Motion was granted on May 5, 2016. (Doc. 150, criminal case). Accordingly, Taylor's total sentence was reduced from 240 months (20 years) to 211 months (17.5 years) of incarceration.[2] Id. Plaintiff's previous offense level of 36 (with a Guideline range of 188-235 months) was reduced to 34 (with a Guideline range of 151 to 188 months). Id. His reduced sentence was outside the guideline range because of the 60-month consecutive sentence on Count 4. Id.

         II. The Petition

         In the instant § 2241 Petition, Taylor now asserts that his sentence was imposed in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) and the United States Supreme Court's decision in Dean v. United States, __U.S.__, 137 S.Ct. 1170 (2017). (Doc. 1, p. 4). In Dean, the Supreme Court addressed 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), a statute which creates a separate offense for using or possessing a firearm in connection with a violent or drug trafficking crime. Id. That separate offense carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years for the first conviction and 25 years for a second conviction. Dean, 137 S.Ct. at 1174.

         The Supreme Court in Dean specifically considered the question of whether sentencing courts must ignore the fact that the defendant will serve the mandatory minimums imposed under § 924(c) when calculating the sentence for the predicate offense. Dean, 137 S.Ct. at 1174. The Supreme Court answered that question in the negative-holding that § 924(c) does not prevent the sentencing court from considering a mandatory minimum imposed under that provision when calculating an appropriate sentence for the predicate offense. Id. at 1175-78. Regardless of the sentence for the predicate offense, a district court does not violate the terms of § 924(c) as long as it imposes the mandatory minimum “in addition to” the sentence for the violent felony or drug trafficking crime. Id. The language of § 924(c) simply requires any mandatory minimum under § 924(c) to be imposed in addition to the sentence for the predicate offense and to run consecutive to that sentence. Id.

         Taylor points out that the holding in Dean is contrary to Seventh Circuit precedent that was in effect when he was sentenced in 2009. (Doc. 1, p. 6). At the time, the sentencing court operated under United States v. Roberson, 474 F.3d 432 (7th Cir. 2007). In Roberson, the Seventh Circuit specifically held that a sentencing judge “cannot reduce the sentence for a predicate crime to balance out the mandatory consecutive sentence prescribed for a conviction under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c).” United States v. Starwalt, 701 Fed.Appx. 508, 510 (7th Cir. 2017) (citing Roberson, 474 F.3d at 436-37). Taylor insists that the court would not have sentenced him to the 17.5 years he is currently serving, had Dean been decided when he was sentenced. (Doc. 1, pp. 6-7). He now asks this Court to resentence him consistent with Dean and § 3553(a). (Doc. 1, p. 4).

         III. Discussion

         A federally convicted person may challenge his conviction and sentence by bringing a motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 in the court that sentenced him. Brown v. Rios, 696 F.3d 638, 640 (7th Cir. 2012); Hill v. Werlinger, 695 F.3d 644, 645 (7th Cir. 2012); Kramer v. Olson, 347 F.3d 214, 217 (7th Cir. 2003); Walker v. O'Brien, 216 F.3d 626, 629 (7th Cir. 2000). Section 2241 applies to challenges to the fact or duration of confinement. Id. In ...


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