United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MICHAEL CURTIS REYNOLDS, No. 10671-023, Petitioner,
T.G. WERLICH, Respondent.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
R. HERNDON, DISTRICT JUDGE
Michael Curtis Reynolds, currently incarcerated in the
FCI-Greenville, Illinois, brings this habeas corpus action
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 to challenge the
constitutionality of his confinement. He invokes Mathis
v. United States, __ U.S. __, 136 S.Ct. 2243, 2250
(2016), and notes that the Seventh Circuit has stated that a
Mathis claim must be brought in a § 2241
proceeding, if at all. Dawkins v. United States, 829
F.3d 549, 550 (7th Cir. 2016). (Doc. 1, p. 1).
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.
to recent orders issued by the Middle District of
Pennsylvania dismissing Reynolds' petitions in that
court, he was found guilty by a jury of “multiple
terrorism related criminal offenses” in July 2007, in
the Middle District of Pennsylvania. See Reynolds v.
United States, No. 18-CV-1093 (M.D. Pa., Doc. 9, June
14, 2018); Reynolds v. United States, No. 18-CV-691
(M.D. Pa., Doc. 5, April 4, 2018); see also United States
v. Reynolds, No. 05-CR-493 (M.D. Pa.). The convictions
were for attempting to provide material support to a foreign
terrorist organization (18 U.S.C. § 2339B); attempting
to provide material support to damage an interstate gas
pipeline facility by means of force or explosive (18 U.S.C.
§§ 2339A(a) & 2); soliciting others to damage
an interstate pipeline facility by means of force or
explosive (18 U.S.C. § 373); distributing information
through the internet on the manufacture and use of an
explosive device (18 U.S.C. §842(p)(2); and possession
of a grenade (18 U.S.C. §§ 5841, 5861(d), &
5871). (Doc. 297, United States v. Reynolds, No.
05-CR-493 (M.D. Pa.)). He was sentenced to a total of 360
March 18, 2010, the United States Court of Appeals for the
Third Circuit affirmed Reynolds' convictions. United
States v. Reynolds, 374 Fed.Appx. 356 (3d Cir. 2010).
See also Reynolds v. United States, No. 18-CV-1093
(M.D. Pa., Doc. 9, June 14, 2018); Reynolds v. United
States, No. 18-CV-691 (M.D. Pa., Doc. 5, April 4, 2018).
original attempt to collaterally attack his conviction under
28 U.S.C. § 2255 was dismissed on the merits on August
15, 2012. Reynolds v. United States, No. 05-CR-493,
2012 WL 12981962 (M.D. Pa.). He then filed several successive
§ 2255 petitions without obtaining authorization from
the Third Circuit, all of which were dismissed. See
Reynolds v. United States, No. 18-CV-1093 (M.D. Pa.,
Doc. 9, June 14, 2018); Reynolds v. United States,
No. 18-CV-691 (M.D. Pa., Doc. 5, April 4, 2018); see also
United States v. Reynolds, Appeal No. 13-4195 (3d Cir.
Feb. 12, 2014). Reynolds additionally filed “multiple
unsuccessful § 2241 petitions” in the Middle
District of Pennsylvania, in which he challenged the legality
of his federal prosecution. Reynolds v. United
States, No. 18-CV-1093 (M.D. Pa., Doc. 9, June 14,
2018); Reynolds v. United States, No. 18-CV-691
(M.D. Pa., Doc. 5, April 4, 2018); see also Reynolds v.
Bledsoe, No. 08-cv-909 (M.D. Pa.); Reynolds v.
Kosik, No. 08-cv-293 (M.D. Pa.); Reynolds v.
Martinez, No. 08-cv-2094 (M.D. Pa.).
2018, Reynolds filed 2 actions in the Middle District of
Pennsylvania, both invoking Hazel-Atlas Glass Co. v.
Hartford-Empire Co., 322 U.S. 238 (1944), to urge the
court to set aside its judgment as having been obtained by
fraudulent means. In the first, the court construed the
action as a habeas petition pursuant to § 2241.
Reynolds v. United States, No. 18-CV-691 (M.D. Pa.,
Doc. 5, April 4, 2018). Reynolds raised numerous claims,
(1) It was physically impossible for him to have committed an
e-mail crime within the confines of this district; (2) a
prosecution witness was coerced; (3) false statements and
testimony by an FBI agent was used to obtain his conviction;
and (4) illegally seized evidence was used against him.
Id. at Doc. 5, p. 3. The court found that
Reynolds' claim for relief did not fall within the
“safety-valve” clause of 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e)
such that it was cognizable in a § 2241 action, and
dismissed the case without prejudice. The court explained
that even though he claimed “actual innocence, ”
Reynolds did not argue that his conduct was no longer
criminal because of a change in the law subsequent to his
conviction. He also failed to show that he could not have
presented his claims in the context of a § 2255 action.
Id. at Doc. 5, p. 5.
court analyzed Reynolds' second Hazel-Atlas
petition as a civil rights claim, and in the alternative as a
habeas action under both § 2241 or §2255.
Reynolds v. United States, No. 18-CV-1093 (M.D. Pa.,
Doc. 9, June 14, 2018). In dismissing the case without
prejudice, the court reasoned that Reynolds could not seek
release in the context of a civil rights claim; failed again
to bring a § 2241 claim that would fit within the narrow
window of the 28 U.S.C.§ 2255(e)
“safety-valve;” and could not proceed with the
action under § 2255 because he had not obtained
authorization from the court of appeals for a successive
§ 2255 motion.
filed the instant Petition on April 30, 2018. He has since
filed a number of motions. The Petition asserts that
Reynolds' sentence was improperly enhanced pursuant to
§ 3A1.4,  because he was never indicted by a grand
jury for the enhanced elements of his offense, nor was the
§ 3A1.4 enhancement found by a jury at his trial. (Doc.
1, p. 1). He also claims that the § 2332a element of his
§ 2339A and B convictions was not charged or presented
to the jury. (Doc. 1, pp. 1, 13-15). Specifically, the jury
was not ever asked to find that the property that was the
target of the alleged attempted destruction was used in
interstate or foreign commerce, or in an activity that
affects such commerce. (Doc. 1, pp. 15-17). Reynolds further
states that his charges under 18 U.S.C. § 842(p)(2)(A)
and § 922(g)(1) were unconstitutional. (Doc. 1, p. 1). He
contends that his convictions are void and must be
“removed.” (Doc. 1, p. 2).
Petition further asserts that the FBI planted evidence (the
hand grenades and emails), which amounted to plain and clear
error affecting Reynolds' substantial rights. (Doc. 1,
pp. 3-4). He contends that it was physically impossible for
him to have committed any of the crimes, and that the
government withheld material exculpatory evidence. (Doc. 1,
pp. 4, 9-10). Because his conviction was allegedly based on
fabricated and/or planted evidence, Reynolds asserts that he
is actually innocent of the offenses, and should be released.
(Doc. 1, pp. 4-6). As he did in the Middle District of
Pennsylvania, Reynolds raises Hazel-Atlas as
authority that a ...