United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
DARRELL E. WILLIAMS, #02825-025, Petitioner,
B. TRUE, Respondent.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
M. YANDLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Darrell E. Williams, an inmate in the Bureau of Prisons,
filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus under 28 U.S.C.
§ 2241 on June 21, 2017. (Doc. 1). In 1993, Williams was
convicted on one Count of conspiracy to distribute more than
fifty (50) grams of cocaine base (“crack
cocaine”) following a jury trial in this District.
United States v. Williams, No. 93-cr-40033-JPG, Doc.
32 (S.D. Ill. July 29, 1993). He was sentenced to life
imprisonment based on the United States Sentencing
Guidelines' (the “Guidelines”) drug offender
and criminal history provisions, which established
Williams' total offense level of 43 with a criminal
history category of VI. Id. at Doc. 52; (Doc. 10,
pp. 6-7, 14-15). Williams was also determined to be a career
offender under § 4B1.1 of the Guidelines, which would
have placed his offense level and criminal history category
at 37 and VI, respectively. Ultimately, this had no bearing
on his imposed sentence because both his offense level and
criminal history category were independently equal to or
higher than those established by his career offender status.
(Doc. 10, pp. 6-7. 14-15).
2010, Williams successfully petitioned to retroactively apply
amended sentencing guidelines to reduce his sentence,
resulting in him being resentenced to a term of 360 months
imprisonment; within the amended Guidelines' advisory
range of 360 months to life imprisonment. United States
v. Williams, No. 93-cr-40033-JPG, Doc. 79 (S.D. Ill.
Sept. 2, 2010). Williams has since unsuccessfully petitioned
for a further reduction to his sentence under more recent
Guidelines amendments which were made retroactive in 2011 and
2014. Id. at Docs. 80, 85, 88.
now invokes Mathis v. United States, __U.S.__, 136
S.Ct. 2243 (2016) to challenge his designation as a career
offender during his original sentencing and to argue that he
is entitled to be resentenced. Specifically, Williams argues
that two prior convictions - a 1986 Texas robbery conviction
and a 1989 Texas delivery of a controlled substance
conviction - were improperly used to determine that he was a
career offender because the Texas statutes criminalized
behavior so broadly that they could not fit within the
Guidelines' definitions of a “crime of
violence” and a “controlled substance
offense.” (Doc. 1, pp. 3, 6-13).
opposes issuance of the Writ primarily on two grounds. First,
Respondent argues that Williams cannot satisfy the
requirements of § 2255(e)'s savings clause because
his argument was not foreclosed by binding precedent before
Mathis was decided. (Doc. 12, pp. 7- 9). Respondent
also argues that Williams' alleged harm cannot be deemed
a miscarriage of justice because his career offender
designation had no actual effect on his sentence which would
have been the same regardless of his career offender
determination, even when considering amendments to the
Guidelines since Williams' conviction. (Doc. 12, pp.
10-11). Williams replied to Respondent's response. (Doc.
matter is now ripe for resolution. For the reasons discussed
below, Williams' § 2241 Petition will be
History and Relevant Facts
29, 1993, Williams was found guilty of one Count of
Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine pursuant to 21 U.S.C. §
841(a)(1) and 21 U.S.C. § 846. United States v.
Darrell Williams, No. 93-cr-40033-JPG, Doc. 32 (July 29,
1993). The Presentence Report (“PSR”) placed
Williams' Base Offense Level at 38 based on at least 1.5
kilograms of cocaine base involved in Williams' offense
of conviction, and added 6 more offense levels due to
Williams' possession of a firearm during the commission
of the offense, Williams' role as a supervisor of the
criminal activity of distribution, and Williams'
obstruction of justice by threatening and intimidating
witnesses. Id. at Doc. 54, p. 6. This resulted in a
Total Offense Level of 43. Id. The PSR also calculated a
criminal history score of 16, based solely on Williams'
multiple prior adult convictions per U.S.S.G. § 4A1.1,
which placed Williams in criminal history category VI.
Id. at pp. 9-11.
also noted that Williams was properly considered a career
offender under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1 by virtue of his prior
convictions for robbery, burglary, and delivery of a
controlled substance, all pursuant to Texas state law.
Id. at pp. 9-12. This designation would
independently result in an offense level of 37 and a criminal
history category of VI-however, the PSR noted that because
Williams' calculated offense level before considering the
career offender enhancement was greater than 37, the greater,
non-career offender level applied. Id. at p. 7;
see also U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1(b) (stating that the
career offender designation's offense level applies only
if it is greater than the normally-calculated offense level).
Further, the PSR noted that, while Williams' career
offender designation automatically placed his criminal
history category at VI, Williams' criminal history
category was already at VI due to his 16 criminal history
points, regardless of the career offender designation.
Id. at pp. 11-12. The PSR calculated Williams'
statutory sentencing range at a mandatory minimum of 20
years, with a maximum of life. Id. at Doc. 54, pp.
14-15; see 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A); §
851. Williams was sentenced to life imprisonment on February
2, 1994. Id. at Doc. 52.
direct appeal unsuccessfully challenged the sufficiency of
the evidence supporting his conviction but raised no issue
regarding his sentence. United States v. Williams,
61 F.3d 534, 535 (7th Cir. 1995). He eventually filed a
Petition for Habeas Corpus under § 2255 based on
arguments unrelated to his current Petition. It was denied in
2001. Williams v. United States, No. 01-cv-4016-JPG,
Doc. 3 (S.D. Ill. May 10, 2001).
successfully petitioned to have his sentence reduced in 2010,
arguing that applying the 2008 amendments to the Guidelines
to his offense level would permit a Guidelines sentencing
range of 360 months to life imprisonment instead of the
mandatory sentence of life imprisonment in effect at the time
of his original sentencing. United States v.
Williams, No. 93-cr-40033, Doc. 78 (S.D. Ill. Aug. 27,
2010). The Court granted Williams' Petition and
resentenced him to 360 months imprisonment on September 2,
2010. Id. at Doc. 80.
again petitioned this Court for a sentence reduction, arguing
the 2011 and 2014 amendments to the Guidelines lowered his
base offense level, which necessitated another resentencing
using a lower Guidelines range. However, Williams' total
offense level was 38 even after the Guidelines amendments
were applied. That level carried a range of 360 months
to life imprisonment given his criminal history category of
VI. Thus, the Court denied the Petition in 2016, concluding,
“[a]s the defendant's current sentence is 360
months, he cannot receive any benefit from the 2011 and/or
the 2014 amendments.” No. 93-cr-40033-JPG, Doc. 88, p.
2. Williams has since filed a motion for resentencing
pursuant to the First Step Act of 2018 which remains
pending before this Court. United States v.
Williams, No. 93-cr-40033-JPG, Doc. 89 (S.D. Ill. Jan.
petitions for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. §
2241 may not be used to raise claims of legal error in
conviction or sentencing, but are instead limited to
challenges regarding the execution of a sentence. See
Valona v. United States, 138 F.3d 693, 694 (7th Cir.
1998). Aside from the direct appeal process, a § 2255
motion is ordinarily the “exclusive means for a federal
prisoner to attack his conviction.” Kramer v.
Olson, 347 F.3d 214, 217 (7th Cir. 2003). A prisoner is
generally limited to one challenge of his conviction
and sentence under § 2255. A prisoner may not file a
“second or successive” § 2255 motion unless
a panel of the appropriate court of appeals certifies that
such motion either 1) contains newly discovered evidence
“sufficient to establish by clear and convincing
evidence that no reasonable factfinder would have ...