United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
M. YANDLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Joseph Maze, an inmate in the Bureau of Prisons, filed a
Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus under 28 U.S.C. §
2241 on August 23, 2017. (Doc. 1). Maze was sentenced to
240-months imprisonment in 2008 after a jury found him guilty
of possessing with intent to deliver more than 5 grams of
cocaine base (also known as “crack cocaine”).
United States v. Joseph Maze, No. 07-cr-0170-RJJ,
Doc. 154 (W.D. Mich. December 22, 2008). His Guidelines range
was enhanced after he was found to be a career offender under
U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1, based in part on two prior controlled
substance convictions in violation of Michigan 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 Michigan controlled substance
convictions and contends he is entitled to be resentenced
without that designation. Specifically, Maze argues that the
prior convictions pursuant to Mich. Comp. Laws. Ann. §
333.7401 (West 2003) do not qualify as “serious drug
offenses” under the Guidelines because they criminalize
the “sale” and “delivery” (as well as
the attempted sale and delivery) of controlled substances,
which is materially different from offenses that criminalize
“distributing” and “dispensing”
controlled substances as defined by the Guidelines. (Doc. 1,
opposes issuance of the Writ on two grounds. First,
Maze's sentence cannot be deemed a “miscarriage of
justice” under § 2255(e)'s savings clause as
it fell within the statutory maximum penalty for his crimes
of conviction regardless of his career offender designation.
(Doc. 12, pp. 4-6). Second, Maze's prior Michigan
convictions meet the Sentencing Guidelines' definition of
“controlled substance offense, ” because the
terms “sale” and “delivery” as
defined by the Michigan statute are substantially identical
to the Guidelines' use of “distribute” - thus
his claim fails on the merits. (Id. at pp. 6-9).
Maze filed a Reply. (Doc. 14).
matter is now ripe for resolution. For the reasons discussed
below, Maze's § 2241 Petition (Doc. 1) will be
History and Relevant Facts
November 1, 2007, a jury found Maze guilty of one Count of
Possession with Intent to Deliver More Than 5 Grams of
Cocaine Base in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1)
and (b)(1)(B)(iii). United States v. Joseph Maze, et
al., No. 07-cr-0170-RJJ, Doc. 29 (W.D. Mich. Nov. 1,
2007). At the time of his conviction and sentencing,
Maze's statutory sentencing range included a maximum of
forty years (480 months) imprisonment, without any
enhancement for a prior drug offense. Notably, even under the
current statute, possession with intent to distribute or
dispense less than 28 grams of cocaine base retains a
statutory maximum penalty of twenty years (240 months)
imprisonment, with no recidivist enhancement. 21 U.S.C.
§ 841(b)(1)(C) (2018).
Presentence Report (“PSR”) applied the
Guidelines' career offender designation to Maze pursuant
to U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1(a) due to his two prior Michigan
controlled substance convictions. Maze was ultimately
sentenced to 240 months imprisonment on December 22, 2008, a
downwards departure from the Guidelines range of 360-months
to life imprisonment. Id. at Doc. 54, p. 2; Doc. 56,
filed a direct appeal relating to the district court's
evidentiary rulings and challenging the fundamental fairness
of his trial. His conviction was affirmed in all respects by
the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in June of 2010.
Id. at Doc. 65. Maze then sought relief under 28
U.S.C. § 2255. His first motion, filed in September
2011, argued that his trial counsel was constitutionally
ineffective. This motion was denied by the district court and
no certificate of appealability was issued. Maze v.
United States, No. 11-cv-1007-RJJ, Doc. 5 (W.D. Mich.
May 21, 2012). Maze's two subsequent applications for
leave to file successive § 2255 motions were both
summarily denied by the Sixth Circuit, including his most
recent application which, like the instant Petition, was
premised on Mathis v. United States, - U.S. -, 136
S.Ct. 2243 (2016). See In re Joseph Maze, No.
17-1111, Doc. 11 (6th Cir. June 28, 2017).
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).
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 Brownv. Rios, 696
F.3d 638, 640 (7th Cir. 2012). In other words, ...