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Hunter v. United States

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

August 1, 2019

RONALD HUNTER, Petitioner,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent. No. 18-1317



         Presently before the Court is Petitioner Ronald Hunter's Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. (D. 1[1].) For the reasons stated herein, the Petition is DENIED, and this case is CLOSED.


         In the 1980s and 1990s, Timothy Patton was the leader of a large drug conspiracy that maintained its power and profitability through violence in Detroit, Michigan.[2] Petitioner and other individuals were members of the conspiracy.[3] On December 27, 1992, Petitioner shot and killed Monica Johnson as she exited a Detroit nightclub.[4] Johnson was purported to have stolen a large amount of drug proceeds from the conspiracy.[5]

         On April 17, 1997, a grand jury returned a fourth superseding indictment charging Petitioner with aiding and abetting and intentional killing of Johnson in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2 and 21 U.S.C. § 848(e)(1)(A); use or carrying of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c); and various drug violations, including conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine base.[6]After a jury trial, Petitioner was found guilty of 18 U.S.C. § 2 and 21 U.S.C. § 848(e)(1)(A), for the intentional killing of Johnson, and 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), for the use of a firearm in her murder.[7]On November 16, 1998, Petitioner was sentenced to a term of life imprisonment on the intentional killing charge and a consecutive term of 60 months for the firearm charge.[8] Petitioner appealed his sentence, and the Sixth Circuit issued an order denying his appeal.[9]


         Since his incarceration in 1998, Petitioner has filed four motions under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 collaterally attacking his conviction. On February 19, 2003, Petitioner filed his first § 2255 motion, which outlined a claim for ineffective assistance of counsel, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.[10] On March 14, 2003, Petitioner filed a subsequent § 2255 motion, in the same court, which outlined the same claim for relief.[11] On January 4, 2004, the district court denied those motions in a single order.[12]

         On February 25, 2004, Petitioner filed a Notice of Appeal based on the district court's combined denial of his first and second § 2255 motions.[13] On October 28, 2004, the Sixth Circuit issued an Order denying Petitioner a certificate of appealability because he failed to make a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right.[14]

         On December 10, 2007, Petitioner filed his third § 2255 motion.[15] In his motion, he argued the indictment against him was defective because it failed to charge him with engaging in a continued criminal enterprise.[16] By statute, “a second or successive [2255] motion must be certified…by a panel of the appropriate court of appeals” before a district court may consider it. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(h) (effective Jan. 7, 2008). Based on § 2255(h), the district court ruled that it did not have jurisdiction to entertain Petitioner's third § 2255 motion, as he failed to obtain appellate certification, and denied his successive attempt at collateral relief. Hunter v. United States, No. 07-15267, 2008 WL 345511, at *2 (E.D. Mich. Feb. 7, 2008).

         On April 14, 2011, Petitioner filed his fourth § 2255 motion.[17] The district court again determined the motion was successive, to which it did not have jurisdiction to entertain, and transferred the motion to the Sixth Circuit for authorization.[18] The Sixth Circuit agreed that the motion was successive and that Petitioner had not received appellate certification to file it.[19]Furthermore, it ruled Petitioner failed to make a prima facie showing that (i) newly discovered evidence existed which sufficiently established that no reasonable fact-finder would have found him guilty of the offense; or that (ii) a previously unavailable rule of constitutional law existed that the Supreme Court had made retroactive to cases on collateral review.[20] As such, it denied his fourth § 2255 motion.[21]

         On August 30, 2018, Petitioner filed the instant Petition, under 28 U.S.C. § 2241, with this Court, arguing that retroactive application of the Supreme Court's holding in Rosemond v. United States, 572 U.S. 65 (2014), exonerates him of his 1997 convictions. (D. 1. at 14, 16.) Petitioner asserts the prosecution at his criminal trial failed to proffer sufficient evidence to convict him of the firearm enhancement under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), using the aiding and abetting statute, 18 U.S.C. § 2, according to the advanced knowledge requirements outlined in Rosemond. Id. Throughout his Petition, Petitioner also makes other merit-based arguments. (D. 1.)

         In response, the Government argues that the Petition should be denied because Rosemond is not applicable to Petitioner's firearm conviction under § 924(c). (D. 6 at 6.) Specifically, it argues, Petitioner was not convicted of his firearm enhancement via the aiding and abetting statute. Id. Rather, the aiding and abetting charge involved the intentional killing of Johnson. Id. Therefore, Petitioner's ability to proceed under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 ends, as the clarification outlined in Rosemond is inapposite to Petitioner's situation. Id. The Government also asserts that, even if Petitioner could make a claim under Rosemond, he must first satisfy the procedural requirements for a § 2241 petition outlined in In re Davenport, 147 F.3d 606, 611 (7th Cir. 1998); which he fails to do. (D. 6. at 6-7.) As a result, the Government contends his Petition should be denied on procedural grounds. Id. This Order follows.


         A federal prisoner challenging the validity of his sentence is ordinarily required to bring his challenge via a § 2255 motion in the sentencing court. Taylor v. Gilkey, 314 F.3d 832, 834 (7th Cir. 2002). However, a federal prisoner whose claim falls within the scope of § 2255 may file a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 in very limited circumstances, as provided by the savings clause of § 2255(e). Id. at 835. The savings clause preserves the defendant's original remedy in those occasional cases in which a motion ...

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