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Martin v. Werlich

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

June 18, 2019

TROY MARTIN, #21567-424, Petitioner,
v.
T. G. WERLICH, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          STACI M. YANDLE United States District Judge.

         Petitioner Troy Martin, an inmate in the Bureau of Prisons, filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 on August 7, 2017. (Doc. 1). Martin was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2007 after a jury found him guilty of a large-scale drug distribution conspiracy. United States v. Troy Martin, et al., No. 04-cr-0495-1, Doc. 1791-1 (N.D. Ill. May 4, 2007). Martin's sentence was based in part on the jury's finding that he was responsible for distribution of more than 50 grams of crack cocaine and more than 5 kilograms of powder cocaine, but was also driven by factors unrelated to the specific quantity of drugs, including his prior murder conviction and subsequent role in organizing and leading a Chicago gang. Id. at Doc. 2483, pp. 2-3. Martin's Sentencing Guidelines range was also enhanced pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 3B1.5(1) and (2)(A) after the sentencing court found that Martin's offense conduct involved the use of body armor. Id. at Doc. 1752, p. 2; (Doc. 12, pp. 6-7). Martin's life sentence was later reduced to 360 months' imprisonment. Martin, No. 04-cr-0495-1, Doc. 2818 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 15, 2016).

         Martin now invokes Mathis v. United States, ___ U.S.___, 136 S.Ct. 2243 (2016) to challenge the enhancement for the use of body armor in drug trafficking crimes. Specifically, he argues that the sentencing court erred in finding that he qualified for the body armor enhancement and that his actual conduct “f[ell] outside the scope of [the body armor enhancement].” (Doc. 1, p. 4). Respondent opposes issuance of the Writ on two grounds: (1) Martin's allegedly incorrectly-calculated Guidelines range based on the body armor enhancement cannot satisfy the requirements of § 2255(e)'s savings clause because his sentence fell within the statutory maximum penalty for his crimes of conviction notwithstanding the body armor enhancement (Doc. 12, pp. 3-5); and (2) Mathis' rationale is wholly inapplicable to Martin's body armor enhancement and cannot be the basis for his requested relief. (Id. at pp. 5-6). Martin replied to Respondent's Response. (Doc. 14).

         This matter is now ripe for resolution. For the reasons discussed below, Martin's § 2241 Petition (Doc. 1) will be DENIED.

         Procedural History and Relevant Facts

         On October 12, 2006, a jury found Martin guilty of one Count of Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), 21 U.S.C. § 846, and 18 U.S.C. § 2, and sixteen Counts of Use of a Communication Facility to Facilitate the commission of the Distribution of a Controlled Substance in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 843(b). United States v. Troy Martin, et al., 04-cr-0495-1, Doc. 1484 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 12, 2006). The jury specifically found that “Troy Martin was responsible for distribution of more than 50 grams of crack cocaine [also referred to as “cocaine base”] and more than 5 kilograms of powder cocaine.” Id. at Doc. 2483, p. 2. As a result, Martin's statutory sentencing range included a maximum of life imprisonment. 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A)(ii). The Presentence Report (“PSR”) applied the Guidelines' body armor enhancement pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 3B1.5(1) and (2)(A), which added two offense levels to Martin's Guidelines calculation. Id. at Doc. 1752, p. 2;[1] (Doc. 12, pp. 6-7). Martin was ultimately sentenced to life imprisonment on May 4, 2007, id. at Doc. 1791-1.

         Martin filed a direct appeal relating to the district court's pretrial and trial rulings and also challenged aspects of his sentencing. His conviction and sentence was affirmed in all respects except for a “limited remand[] for reconsideration” of Martin's sentences in light of 2007 amendments to the Guidelines regarding the disparity between sentencing ranges for crack and powder cocaine. United States v. Martin, et al., 618 F.3d 705, 739 (7th Cir. 2010). On remand, the sentencing court declined to modify Martin's life sentence, United States v. Martin, et al., No. 04-cr-0495, Doc. 2483, pp. 2-3, 7 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 7, 2011); this decision was affirmed on appeal. United States v. Martin, et al., No. 07-2272, 2011 WL 5519811, at **1-3 (7th Cir. Nov. 14, 2011).

         Martin has also sought relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. His first motion, filed in March 2013, argued that his trial counsel was “constitutionally ineffective with respect to the plea bargaining process.” It was denied by the district court and the denial was affirmed by the Seventh Circuit on appeal. Martin v. United States, No. 13-3826, Doc. 33 (7th Cir. June 12, 2015).

         In 2016, Martin sought a sentence reduction pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) based on a Guidelines amendment that lowered the base offense levels for certain drug offenses. The district court recalculated his Guidelines range at 360 months to life, which included the 2-level enhancement for use of body armor, and granted the motion, thereby reducing Martin's life sentence to 360 months' imprisonment. United States v. Troy Martin, et al., No. 04-cr-0495-1, Doc. 2818 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 15, 2016).

         Martin filed an application for leave to file a second § 2255 motion on June 26, 2017, arguing Mathis v. United States, ___ U.S.___, 136 S.Ct. 2243 (2016) invalidated his body armor Guidelines enhancement and sentence. Martin v. United States, No. 17-2317, Doc. 1 (7th Cir. June 26, 2017). The Seventh Circuit summarily denied Martin's application. Id. at Doc. 2.

         Applicable Legal Standards

         Generally, 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 found the movant guilty of the offense, ” or 2) invokes “a new rule of constitutional law, made retroactive to cases on collateral review by the Supreme Court, that was previously unavailable.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(h).

         Under very limited circumstances, however, it is possible for a prisoner to challenge his federal conviction or sentence under § 2241. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e) contains a “savings clause” under which a federal prisoner can file a § 2241 petition when the remedy under § 2255 is “inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of his detention.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e). See United States v. Prevatte, 300 F.3d 792, 798-99 (7th Cir. 2002). The Seventh Circuit construed the savings clause in In re Davenport, 147 F.3d 605, 611 (7th Cir. 1998): “A procedure for postconviction relief can be fairly termed inadequate when it is so configured as to deny a convicted defendant any opportunity for judicial rectification of so fundamental a defect in his conviction as having been imprisoned for a nonexistent offense.” Following Davenport, a petitioner must meet three conditions to trigger the savings clause. First, he must show that he relies on a new statutory interpretation case rather than a constitutional case. Secondly, he must show that he relies on a decision that he could not have invoked in his first § 2255 motion and that case must apply retroactively. Lastly, he must demonstrate that there has been a “fundamental defect” in his conviction or sentence that is grave enough ...


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