United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
ROBERT T. ROACH, #45250-424, Petitioner,
T.G. WERLICH, Respondent.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. ROSENSTENGEL CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
Robert T. Roach, an inmate in the Bureau of Prisons, filed a
Petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. §
2241. (Doc. 1). In May 2014, Roach was sentenced to a 262
month term of imprisonment after pleading guilty to
possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance
in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and possession of
a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A). United States
v. Robert T. Roach, 12-cr-50065, Doc. 47 (N.D. Ill. May
9, 2014). His sentencing range under the United States
Sentencing Guidelines (“Guidelines”) was enhanced
after the sentencing judge determined that he was a career
offender pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1, based in part on
two prior Illinois controlled substance convictions.
Id. at Doc. 75, pp. 5-7.
now invokes Mathis v. United States, ___U.S.___, 136
S.Ct. 2243 (2016), to challenge his sentence and argue that
he is entitled to be resentenced without this Guidelines
enhancement. Specifically, Roach argues that because the
Illinois controlled substance statutes he was convicted under
criminalize the “delivery” of controlled
substances, but the definition of a “controlled
substance offense” under Section 4B1.2(b) of the
Guidelines refers to the “manufacture, import, export,
distribution, or dispensing” of a controlled substance
instead of the “delivery” of a controlled
substance, this conviction can no longer support the
Guidelines enhancement under Mathis. (Doc. 1, pp.
7-8; Doc. 30, pp. 2-9; Doc. 33, pp. 1-4).
opposes issuance of the writ on multiple grounds. First,
Respondent argues that Roach cannot satisfy the requirements
of Section 2255(e)'s savings clause because his sentence
fell within the statutory maximum penalty for his crime of
conviction notwithstanding his Guidelines enhancement, so his
alleged harm is not a “miscarriage of justice” as
required by Seventh Circuit precedent. (Doc. 17, pp. 4-7).
Respondent also argues that Roach affirmatively waived his
right to bring this action via the waiver provision in his
plea agreement. (Id. at pp. 9-10). Finally,
Respondent argues that even if the Court reaches the merits
of Roach's Petition, his Petition must fail because
Roach's prior Illinois controlled substance convictions
are properly considered controlled substance offenses as
defined by U.S.S.G. § 4B1.2(b). (Id. at pp.
supplemented his Response with additional Seventh Circuit
authority (Doc. 22), prompting Roach to file both a Reply
(Doc. 30) and a brief with supplemental authority in support
of his Petition. (Doc. 33). Respondent filed an opposition to
Roach's supplemental authority (Doc. 37), to which Roach
replied. (Doc. 40). This matter is now ripe for resolution.
Facts and Procedural History
January 6, 2014, Roach pleaded guilty to one count of
possession with intent to distribute approximately 90 grams
of a mixture containing cocaine base,  as well as one
count of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug
trafficking crime. United States v. Roach, No.
12-cr-50065, Doc. 31, p. 2 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 6, 2014). Roach
entered into a formal Plea Agreement, in which he agreed that
“knowingly waive[d] the right to appeal . . . any part
of [his] sentence (or the manner in which that sentence was
determined), including any term of imprisonment and fine
within the maximums provided by law . . . [and] waive[d] his
right to challenge his conviction and sentence . . . in any
collateral attack or future challenge, including but not
limited to a motion brought under Title 28, United States
Code, Section 2255.”
Id. at p. 14. Roach also agreed that he was a career
offender under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1(a) due to felony
convictions for three prior Illinois controlled substance
offenses. Id. at pp. 6-8.
Roach's offenses carried statutory mandatory minimum
sentences of 5 years' (60 months') imprisonment.
See 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A)(i) (2006)
and 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(B)(iii) (2010).
Roach's drug trafficking offense carried a statutory
maximum penalty of 40 years' (480 months')
imprisonment, while his firearm offense carried a maximum
penalty of life imprisonment. Id. While neither
party has provided the Presentence Report (“PSR”)
from Roach's underlying criminal case to the Court, there
is no dispute that Roach was determined to be a career
offender due to his prior Illinois controlled substance
convictions. (Doc. 1, pp. 7-8; Doc. 17, pp.
asserts that before the career-offender enhancement, his
Sentencing Guideline range would have been 110-137 months,
but this was increased to an advisory range of 262-327 months
as a result of the enhancement. (Doc. 1, p. 10). That range
included the mandatory-consecutive 60 months for the firearm
count. Roach, No. 12-cr-50065, Doc. 75,
pp. 5-6 (N.D. Ill.). Roach was sentenced to 202 months'
imprisonment for his drug trafficking offense, plus the
mandatory minimum of 60 months' imprisonment for his
firearm offense, for a total of 262 months' imprisonment.
Roach, No. 12-cr-50065, Doc. 47, p. 2 (N.D. Ill. May
filed a direct appeal which was summarily denied by the
Seventh Circuit after the panel found Roach had voluntarily
entered into his plea agreement which contained a permissible
and enforceable appeal waiver. Id. at Doc. 83, p. 2.
He subsequently filed two motions under 28 U.S.C. §
2255. In the first motion, Roach argued that his counsel was
ineffective during pre-trial motion practice in his criminal
case-this motion was denied, with the court finding it was
barred by the appeal waiver in Roach's plea agreement.
United States v. Roach, No. 16-cv-50106, Doc. 4, pp.
1-2 (N.D. Ill. June 6, 2016).
second Section 2255 motion, which was premised on Johnson
v. United States, 576 U.S. -, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015), was
denied because Roach failed to apply for and obtain leave
from the Seventh Circuit to file a second or successive
Section 2255 motion. United States v. Roach, No.
16-cv-50221, Doc. 5, pp. 1-2 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 23, 2017). The
court went on to state that even if Roach had been granted
leave to file a second motion, his claim failed on the merits
because it was directly “foreclosed by the Supreme
Court's recent decision in Beckles v. United
States, which held that the [Guidelines] are not subject
to a vagueness challenge under the Due Process Clause.”
Id. at p. 2 (internal quotations omitted).