United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. ROSENSTENGEL CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
Aaron Williams, an inmate in the United States Penitentiary
located in Marion, Illinois (“USP-Marion”),
brings this habeas corpus action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
2241. (Doc. 1). Williams is currently serving a 262-month
sentence for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent
to distribute heroin. See United States v. Williams,
No. 08-cr-00566-CDP-1 (E.D. Mo. 2008). He claims that the
Supreme Court's decision in Mathis v. United
States, -- U.S. --, 136 S.Ct. 2243 (2016), precludes the
use of a prior Illinois controlled substance conviction to
enhance his sentence for the drug trafficking conviction
under 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A). (Id. at pp.
1-8). Williams seeks resentencing without the enhancement.
(Id. at p. 8).
matter is now before the Court for preliminary review of the
Section 2241 Petition. Rule 4 of the Federal Rules Governing
Section 2254 Cases in United States District Courts provides
that upon preliminary consideration by the district judge,
“[i]f it plainly appears from the petition and any
attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to
relief in the district court, the judge must dismiss the
petition and direct the clerk to notify the
petitioner.” Rule 1(b) gives this Court the authority
to apply the rules to other habeas corpus cases.
a jury trial on May 6, 2009, Williams was found guilty of
conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin in
excess of one kilogram, in violation of 21 U.S.C.
§§ 841(a)(1) and 846. See United States v.
Williams, No. 08-cr-00566-CDP-1 (E.D. Mo. 2008)
(“criminal case”) (Doc. 142). The United States
District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri sentenced
Williams to 262 months of imprisonment, 10 years of
supervised release, and ordered a $1 million forfeiture on
August 25, 2009. (Doc. 184, criminal case). This included
application of a mandatory minimum sentence of twenty
years' imprisonment under 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A)
based on Williams's prior felony drug conviction under
the Illinois Controlled Substances Act, 720 ILCS 570/401, in
Cook County No. 90-CR-1615501. (Docs. 129 and 184, criminal
case). The district court calculated the Guidelines range at
360 months to life and applied a downward adjustment to
arrive at the 262-month sentence. On direct appeal, Williams
challenged application of the mandatory minimum sentence
under 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A), among other things.
(Doc. 186, criminal case). The Eighth Circuit Court of
Appeals affirmed his sentence on August 5, 2010. United
States v. Williams, 616 F.3d 760 (8th Cir. 2010) (Doc.
207, criminal case). The Supreme Court denied certiorari
review, and Williams did not bring a collateral attack on his
sentence or conviction. (Doc. 1, p. 4).
Section 2241 Petition, Williams claims that he should be
resentenced. (Doc. 1). Relying on Mathis, he argues
that his prior Illinois controlled substance conviction no
longer qualifies as a “felony drug offense, ”
within the meaning of 21 U.S.C. § 802(44), or warrants
an enhanced sentence under 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A).
(Id. at p. 5). His prior conviction under 720 ILCS
570/401 allegedly covers a broader category of offenses than
those covered under 21 U.S.C. § 802(44). (Id.
at pp. 6-7). With that said, Williams offers no information
about his underlying conviction. (Id.).
a federally convicted person must attack his conviction or
sentence by filing a motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255
in the court that sentenced him. Brown v. Caraway,
719 F.3d 583, 586 (7th Cir. 2013). This is normally the
exclusive means for a federal prisoner to bring a collateral
attack. Kramer v. Olson, 347 F.3d 214, 217 (7th Cir.
2003). But when the remedy under Section 2255 is
“inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of his
detention, ” a prisoner is not without recourse. Under
some circumstances, he may challenge his federal conviction
or sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. See
28 U.S.C. § 2255(e); United States v. Prevatte,
300 F.3d 792, 798-99 (7th Cir. 2002). For this reason,
Section 2255(e) is known as the “savings clause.”
Section 2255 is considered inadequate or ineffective when
three requirements are met: (1) the prisoner relies on a
statutory-interpretation case; (2) the prisoner relies on a
decision that is retroactive on collateral review and could
not have been invoked in his first Section 2255 motion; and
(3) the complained-of error was grave enough to constitute a
miscarriage of justice. In re Davenport, 147 F.3d
605, 611 (7th Cir. 1998); Montana v. Cross, 829 F.3d
775, 783 (7th Cir. 2016).
Williams cites Mathis and not United States v.
Elder, 900 F.3d 491 (7th Cir. 2018), he advances
arguments under both. And because it is not plainly apparent
that the Section 2241 Petition should be dismissed at
screening given the developing law and incomplete record of
his underlying conviction pursuant to 720 ILCS 570/401, the
Court finds that a response is necessary to more fully
evaluate his claims.
IS HEREBY ORDERED that Respondent True shall answer
or otherwise plead on or before
November 27, 2019. This preliminary order to respond
does not, of course, preclude the Government from raising any
objection or defense it may wish to present. Service upon the
United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois,
750 Missouri Avenue, East St. Louis, Illinois, shall
constitute sufficient service.
IS FURTHER ORDERED that this entire matter be
REFERRED to a United States Magistrate Judge
for disposition, as contemplated by Local Rule 72.2(b)(2) and
28 U.S.C. § 636(c), should all the parties consent
to such a referral.
is ADVISED of his continuing obligation to
keep the Clerk of Court (and each opposing party) informed of
any change in his whereabouts during the pendency of this
action. This notification shall be done in writing and not
later than seven days after a transfer or
other change in address occurs. Failure to ...