United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
M. YANDLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Aaron Maurice Pettes, an inmate in the Bureau of Prisons,
filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus under 28 U.S.C.
§ 2241 on July 26, 2017. (Doc. 1). Pettes was sentenced
to 151 months imprisonment in 2007 after pleading guilty to
one Count of bank robbery by force or violence in violation
of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a). United States v. Aaron
Pettes, No. 06-cr-20040-JWL, Doc. 53 (D. Kan. Jan. 30,
2007). His sentence was enhanced after the sentencing judge
found him to be a career offender under United States
Sentencing Guidelines (the “Guidelines”) §
4B1.1, based on prior convictions for burglary and robbery
under Nebraska law.
now invokes Mathis v. United States, __ U.S. __, 136
S.Ct. 2243 (2016), to challenge his designation as a career
offender based on the prior Nebraska burglary convictions and
contends he is entitled to be resentenced without that
designation. Specifically, he argues that Nebraska's
burglary statutes criminalize more behavior than the generic
definition of burglary under federal law. (Doc. 1, pp. 3-5,
opposes issuance of the Writ on several grounds. Respondent
first argues that Pettes cannot satisfy the requirements of
§ 2255(e)'s savings clause because his argument was
not foreclosed by binding precedent before Mathis
was decided. (Doc. 8, pp. 7-8). Respondent further argues
that Pettes' alleged harm cannot be deemed a
“miscarriage of justice” because his sentence
fell within the statutory maximum penalty for his crimes of
conviction notwithstanding his career offender designation.
(Id. at pp. 8-10). Pettes filed a Reply. (Doc. 11).
matter is now ripe for resolution. For the reasons discussed
below, Pettes' § 2241 Petition (Doc. 1) will be
History and Relevant Facts
pleaded guilty to one count of bank robbery in violation of
18 U.S.C. § 2113(a) on September 25, 2006. United
States v. Aaron Pettes, No. 06-cr-20040, Docs. 41, 42
(D. Kan. September 25, 2006). He did not enter into a formal
plea agreement. Id. Pettes' potential sentence
exposure was up to twenty years (240 months) imprisonment. 18
U.S.C. § 2113(a). The Presentence Report
(“PSR”) applied the Guidelines'
career-offender enhancement to Pettes based in part on 1998
and 2005 convictions for residential burglary and a 2006
robbery conviction, all in violation of Nebraska law.
Pettes, No. 06-cr-20040-JWL at Doc. 50, pp. 2-3.
Pettes did not object to the PSR or his classification as a
career offender during the sentencing proceedings and was
ultimately sentenced to 151 months imprisonment on January
22, 2007. Id. at Doc. 53.
filed a direct appeal in April 2007, but it was dismissed as
untimely-filed on June 4, 2007. Id. at Doc. 63. He
has since filed two motions under 28 U.S.C. § 2255
seeking to have his sentence vacated and to be resentenced
without the career offender designation. In the first motion,
filed on June 20, 2016, Pettes argued that Johnson v.
United States, - U.S. -, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015)
invalidated his career offender designation. Id. at
Doc. 68, pp. 1, 4, 8. Pettes voluntarily dismissed that
action on March 20, 2017. Id. at Docs. 89, 90.
April 17, 2017, Pettes filed a second § 2255 motion and
argued, as in his instant Petition, that Mathis v. United
States, __ U.S. __, 136 S.Ct. 2243 (2016) invalidated
his career offender designation because his 1998 and 2005
Nebraska residential burglary convictions criminalized more
behavior than the generic definition of burglary under
federal law. Id. at Doc. 91. Pettes also argued that
Johnson applied to the Guidelines' career
offender provisions and provided an alternative basis for
invalidating his career offender designation. Id.
The motion was denied in its entirety by the district court
(Id. at Doc. 92) and the Tenth Circuit subsequently
denied Pettes' requested authorization to file a second
or successive motion for relief under § 2255.
Id. at Doc. 94.
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).
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.”
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 to be deemed a miscarriage of
justice. Brown v. Caraway, 719 F.3d 583, 586 (7th
Cir. 2013). See also Brown v. Rios, 696 F.3d 638,
640 (7th Cir. 2012). In other words, ...