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Dixon v. Watson

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Peoria Division

June 7, 2019

JEROME DIXON, Petitioner,
v.
THOMAS WATSON, Respondent.

          ORDER AND OPINION

          Sara Darrow Chief United States District Judge.

         Now before the Court is Petitioner Jerome Dixon's Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus Pursuant 28 U.S.C. § 2241 (Doc. 1). Also before the Court are Petitioner's Motions to Supplement/Amend his Petition (Docs. 11 and 23). For the reasons set forth below, the Petition (Doc. 1) is DENIED. Petitioner's Motions to Supplement/Amend his Petition (Docs. 11 and 23) are DENIED as futile.

         Petitioner has also filed a letter (Doc. 28) requesting copies of every filing in this case. As a courtesy, the Clerk is DIRECTED to mail a copy of the docket sheet along with this order. If Petitioner is seeking a full copy of every document filed in this case, the Court notes that, pursuant to the Judicial Conference of the United States' policy, and in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 1914, parties are only entitled to receive one free copy of case filings. The Clerk is DIRECTED to send Petitioner information on the costs and process for obtaining these documents.

         Background

         On December 22, 2011, Dixon pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g), pursuant to a plea agreement before the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. United States v. Dixon, No. 11 CR 73, Plea Agreement (N.D. Ill.); Resp. at App. 3 (Doc. 10-2). The plea agreement contained a waiver of Dixon's collateral attack rights. Specifically, the plea agreement provided that Dixon “waived his right to challenge his conviction and sentence, and the manner in which the sentence was determined, . . . in any collateral attack or future challenge, including but not limited to a motion brought under [§ 2255].” Id. at App. 16.

         In the plea agreement, Dixon also admitted that he qualified as an Armed Career Criminal under 18 U.S.C. § 924(e) due to three predicate convictions: (1) a December 11, 1998 conviction for manufacturing/delivering a controlled substance in violation of 720 ILCS 570/401(c)(1) in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois; (2) a June 13, 2001 conviction for aggravated battery of a peace officer, in violation of 720 ILCS 5/12-4(b)(6), in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois; and (3) a July 31, 2003 conviction for manufacturing/delivering a controlled substance, in violation of 720 ILCS 570/401(D). Id. at App. 5-6. Accordingly, he agreed that the Armed Career Criminal Act (“ACCA”) sentencing enhancement applied, making his statutory imprisonment range 15 years to life imprisonment. See 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(1). Had he not had three predicate convictions, he would have been subject to a statutory maximum of only ten years. See 18 U.S.C. § 924(a)(2). On May 14, 2012, the district court sentenced Dixon to 180 months' imprisonment. He did not appeal his conviction or sentence.

         On May 14, 2013, Dixon filed his first Motion to Amend, Correct, or Vacate his Sentence Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, arguing that he should not have been sentenced as an Armed Career Criminal in light of Buchmeier v. United States, 581 F.3d 561 (7th Cir. 2009), and that his attorney was ineffective. See Dixon v. United States, No. 13-cv-3591, Memorandum and Order, d/e 18 (N.D. Ill. July 28, 2014). The district court denied his motion, finding that his Buchmeier claim was waived by the collateral attack waiver in his plea agreement, and that his ineffective assistance of counsel claim was meritless. Id.

         After obtaining authorization from the Seventh Circuit, Dixon filed a second § 2255 motion relying on Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015), which held that the residual clause in the definition of violent felony under § 924(e)(2)(B)(ii) was unconstitutionally vague. See United States v. Dixon, No. 15 C 10906, 2017 WL 661595, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 17, 2017). Dixon argued his conviction for aggravated battery of a peace officer under 720 ILCS 5/12-4(b)(6) no longer qualified as a predicate offense for the ACCA enhancement under § 924(e) because it only qualified under the now-unconstitutional residual clause. However, the district court found Dixon's argument was foreclosed by the Seventh Circuit's decision in Stanley v. United States, 827 F.3d 562, 564 (7th Cir. 2016), which held that aggravated battery of a peace officer under 720 ILCS 5/12-4(b)(6) remained a violent felony under § 924(e)(2)(B)(i) (the elements clause). Id. Accordingly, his motion was denied. Id.

         Dixon filed this Petition (Doc. 1) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 on July 21, 2017, again challenging the use of his aggravated battery of a peace officer conviction as a predicate conviction for his Armed Career Criminal designation. His Petition relies on Mathis v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 2243 (2016), to argue to that the Illinois statute is broader than the definition of “violent felony.” Respondent filed his response (Doc. 10), arguing that his claim is waived and fails on the merits.

         Dixon file a reply (Doc. 11), and included a motion to amend his Petition to add a claim that his controlled substance offenses also should not have been used as predicate offenses in light of Mathis. The Court initially denied his motion to amend in an October 3, 2017 Text Order, finding it duplicative of his previous claim. However, the Court vacated this order on March 11, 2019, finding, upon further review, that the claim was, in fact, distinct from his original claim, and ordered Respondent to respond to the Motion to Amend. Respondent filed his response on April 1, 2019. Dixon has not filed a timely reply. This Order follows.

         Legal Standard

         Generally, federal prisoners who seek to collaterally attack their conviction or sentence must proceed by way of motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, the so-called “federal prisoner's substitute for habeas corpus.” Camacho v. English, 16-3509, 2017 WL 4330368, at *1 (7th Cir. Aug. 22, 2017) (quoting Brown v. Rios, 696 F.3d 638, 640 (7th Cir. 2012)). The exception to this rule is found in § 2255 itself: a federal prisoner may petition under § 2241 if the remedy under § 2255 “is inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of his detention.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e). Under the “escape hatch” of § 2255(e), “[a] federal prisoner should be permitted to seek habeas corpus only if he had no reasonable opportunity to obtain earlier judicial correction of a fundamental defect in his conviction or sentence because the law changed after his first 2255 motion.” In re Davenport, 147 F.3d 605, 611 (7th Cir. 1998). Thus, the Seventh Circuit has held that “alternative relief under § 2241 is available only in limited circumstances: specifically, only upon showing “(1) that he relies on ‘not a constitutional case, but a statutory-interpretation case, so [that he] could not have invoked it by means of a second or successive section 2255 motion,' (2) that the new rule applies retroactively to cases on collateral review and could not have been invoked in his earlier proceeding, and (3) that the error is ‘grave enough ... to be deemed a miscarriage of justice corrigible therefore in a habeas corpus proceeding,' such as one resulting in ‘a conviction for a crime of which he was innocent.'” Montana v. Cross, 829 F.3d 775, 783 (7th Cir. 2016), cert. denied sub nom. Montana v. Werlich, 137 S.Ct. 1813, 197 L.Ed.2d 758 (2017) (citing Brown, 696 F.3d at 640).

         Discussion

         Respondent argues that Dixon's claims are barred by the collateral attack waiver in his plea agreement, as well as meritless. The Court agrees. Since his claim is barred by his plea agreement, the Court need not address the merits of his claims. See Mason v. United States, 211 F.3d 1065, 1069-70 (7th Cir. 2000) (holding it is unnecessary to reach the merits of a claim when a petitioner has waived the right to bring it in his plea agreement). However, for the sake of completeness, the Court also addresses Dixon's ability to proceed under the § 2255(e) savings clause, and finds that he would not be entitled to relief even if his claims were not barred by the collateral attack waiver in his plea agreement.

         A. Dixon Waived His ...


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