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Rhodes v. Warden, USP-Marion

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

November 5, 2019

JIMMY EUGENE RHODES, #15025-064, Petitioner,
v.
WARDEN, USP-MARION, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          STACI M. YANDLE United States District Judge.

         Petitioner Jimmy Eugene Rhodes, an inmate in the Bureau of Prisons, filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 on May 30, 2017. (Doc. 1). Following a jury trial in the Western District of Oklahoma in 2002, Rhodes was convicted of two counts of possession of a firearm by a felon (Counts 1 and 3), [1] possession of methamphetamine (Count 2), [2] possession of a stolen firearm (Count 4), [3] and maintaining a place for the manufacture, distribution, or use of a controlled substance (Count 5).[4] United States v. Rhodes, No. 01-cr-0202-R-1, Doc. 56 (W.D. Okla. April 10, 2002), Doc. 136, pp. 1-2. Rhodes' statutory sentence for Counts 1 and 3 was enhanced to a 15-year mandatory minimum pursuant to the Armed Career Criminal Act (the “ACCA”), 18 U.S.C. §§ 924(e)(1) and 924(e)(2)(B)(ii) (1998)[5] based in part on two prior Oklahoma felony convictions: 1986 and 1990 convictions for burglary in the second degree pursuant to Okla. Stat. tit. 21, § 1435 (1969). Without the ACCA enhancement, Rhodes would have faced a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years on the felon in possession counts. 18 U.S.C. § 924(a)(2).

         Rhodes now invokes Mathis v. United States, ___U.S.___, 136 S.Ct. 2243 (2016) to challenge his sentence enhancement based on the second-degree burglary convictions and contends he is entitled to be resentenced without the enhancement. Specifically, Rhodes argues that the Oklahoma statute of conviction is broader than the federal definition of burglary and criminalizes more conduct than the “generic” definition of burglary as defined by the Supreme Court because it criminalizes breaking and entering of railroad cars, automobiles, trucks, trailers, vessels, and vending machines. (Doc. 1, pp. 6-8). Respondent opposes issuance of the Writ, arguing that Rhodes cannot satisfy the requirements of § 2255(e)'s savings clause because his Mathis theory was not foreclosed by binding precedent before Mathis was decided, and Mathis does not apply retroactively to cases on collateral review. (Doc. 28, pp. 5-7). Rhodes replied to Respondent's response. (Doc. 30). This matter is now ripe for resolution. For the reasons discussed below, Rhodes' § 2241 Petition (Doc. 1) will be GRANTED.

         RELEVANT FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Following a jury trial, Rhodes was found guilty on five counts, including two counts of possessing firearms after a felony conviction in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1), one count of possessing methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 844(a), one count of possessing firearms he knew to be stolen in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(j), and maintaining a house where methamphetamine was manufactured or distributed in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 856(a)(1). United States v. Rhodes, No. 01-cr-0202-R-1, Doc. 56 (W.D. Okla. April 10, 2002); see also Doc. 71; Doc. 107, pp. 1-2.[6] The Presentence Report (“PSR”) provided to the sentencing court listed three prior Oklahoma felony convictions that qualified Rhodes for an enhanced mandatory minimum sentence pursuant to the ACCA: a 1984 conviction for shooting with intent to kill; and 1986 and 1990 convictions for burglary in the second degree. Id. at Doc. 63-1, ¶¶ 52, 59-61; Doc. 128, pp. 2-3; Doc. 132, pp. 2-3.

         The sentencing court determined Rhodes' Guideline Range to be 235 to 293 months imprisonment, based on a total offense level of 33 and a criminal history category of VI. Id. at Doc. 63-1; Doc. 124; Doc. 132, p. 3. Rhodes was ultimately sentenced to 260 months imprisonment on his felon in possession counts as a result of the ACCA enhancement predicated on his prior Oklahoma felony convictions. Rhodes, No. 01-cr-0202-R-1, Doc. 72 (W.D. Okla. Aug. 22, 2002); see also Doc. 136, p. 2. The sentencing court also imposed sentences between 36 and 240 months on the other three counts, all to be served concurrently to his 260-month sentence for the felon in possession counts. Id. at Docs. 71, 72. Rhodes has attacked his conviction and sentence in a variety of ways since his sentencing.

         Direct Appeal and First Petition for Habeas Corpus Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255

         On direct appeal, Rhodes argued the district court erred in several of its pre-trial and evidentiary rulings, and also alleged that 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) violated the Second Amendment. United States v. Rhodes, 62 Fed.Appx. 869, 870-72 (2003). At that time, Rhodes did not appeal the sentencing court's use of his prior Oklahoma burglary convictions to enhance his sentence under the ACCA. Id. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Rhodes' convictions in their entirety. Id. at 876.

         Rhodes then filed a motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 in May of 2004. Rhodes, No. 01-cr-0202-R-1, Doc. 90 (W.D. Okla. May 17, 2004). At that time, he asserted that he was denied effective assistance of counsel at trial due to an irreconcilable conflict with his attorney. Id. at Doc. 107, p. 1. The motion was denied in all respects (Id. at p. 6) and the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals denied Rhodes' request for a certificate of appealability. Id. at Doc. 115, pp. 11-12.

         Subsequent Applications for Authorization to File a Second or Successive Motion

         Beginning in 2010, Rhodes filed applications with the Tenth Circuit for authorization to file a second or successive motion for collateral review under § 2255. The first application challenged his classification as an armed career criminal under the ACCA pursuant to Curtis Johnson v. United States, 559 U.S. 133 (2010) and Begay v. United States, 553 U.S. 137 (2008). The Tenth Circuit denied Rhodes' application without reaching the merits of his argument, finding that neither Johnson nor Begay were new rules of constitutional law made retroactive to cases on collateral review by the Supreme Court. Rhodes, No. 01-cr-0202-R-1, Doc. 117.

         Rhodes filed another application for authorization to file a successive § 2255 motion in May of 2016. Id. at Doc. 126. He argued that Samuel Johnson v. United States, 576 U.S. -, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015) required the invalidation of his sentence enhancement based on his Oklahoma burglary convictions. Id. at pp. 1-2. Rhodes invoked Mathis v. United States, ___U.S.___, 136 S.Ct. 2243 (2016) in subsequent pleadings relating to this application, arguing that the Oklahoma second-degree burglary statute defines burglary more broadly than generic burglary under the ACCA. Id. at Docs. 128, 132. While the Tenth Circuit did authorize Rhodes' application to file a successive § 2255 action, the district court ultimately denied Rhodes' motion, finding “the record does not support [Rhodes'] contention” that he was properly raising a claim under Johnson, and that his Mathis claim also failed due to Tenth Circuit precedent stating that Mathis did not apply retroactively in the context of an attempt to bring a habeas challenge under § 2255(f)(3). Id. at Doc. 136, pp. 3-5. The Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of Rhodes' § 2255 motion on appeal, concluding “there would have been little dispute at the time of [Rhodes' sentencing] that [his] burglary convictions constituted enumerated offenses [under the ACCA], ” while specifically “express[ing] no opinion as to whether [prior Tenth Circuit cases analyzing the ACCA's enumerated clause] remain good law following [Mathis].” Rhodes, No. 01-cr-0202-R-1, at Doc. 147, pp. 3-5; (Doc. 14-1, pp. 3-5 in instant case). Rhodes' Petition for a Writ of Certiorari was denied by the Supreme Court.

         Rhodes' most recent application for permission to file a subsequent § 2255 motion was filed in September 2019. The application was premised on United States v. Davis, 588 U.S. -, No. 18-431 (2019) and reiterated Rhodes' Mathis objections to his sentence. Rhodes, No. 01-cr-0202-R-1, Doc. 152-1, p. 4. The Tenth Circuit denied the application on October 9, 2019, finding that Rhodes did not make a prima facie showing that his proposed successive § 2255 motion relied on the new rule announced in Davis as he was not convicted under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). Id. at Doc. 156, p. 4, nor did he show that Mathis announced a new rule of constitutional law so as to satisfy 28 U.S.C. § 2255(h)(2). Id. at Doc. 156, p. 5.

         APPLICABLE LEGAL STANDARDS

         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). Thus, aside from the direct appeal process, a prisoner who has been convicted in federal court is generally limited to challenging his conviction and sentence by bringing a motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 in the court which sentenced him. See, Kramer v. Olson, 347 F.3d 214, 217 (7th Cir. 2003). A prisoner is also generally limited to only one challenge of his conviction and sentence under § 2255. He or she may not file a “second or successive” § 2255 motion unless a panel of the appropriate court of appeals certifies that such motion contains either 1) 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) “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).

         However, under very limited circumstances, a prisoner may challenge his federal conviction or sentence under § 2241. Specifically, 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e) contains a “savings clause” which authorizes a federal prisoner to file a § 2241 petition where 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.”[7]

         A petitioner must meet three conditions in order 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 Chazen v. Marske, 938 F.3d 851, 856 (7th Cir. 2019); Brown v. Rios, 696 F.3d 638, 640 (7th Cir. 2012). “There must be some kind of structural problem with § 2255 before § 2241 becomes available. In other words, something more than a lack of success with a § 2255 motion must exist before the savings clause is satisfied.” See Webster v. Daniels, 784 F.3d 1123, 1136 (7th Cir. 2015).

         ANALYSIS

         In Mathis v. United States, ___U.S.___, 136 S.Ct. 2243 (2016), the Supreme Court addressed the question of whether an Iowa burglary conviction was properly used to enhance a federal sentence under the Armed Career Criminal Act (“ACCA”) and held that only where the elements of the predicate offense match or are narrower than the elements of the “generic” offense (in Mathis' case, generic burglary) may the prior conviction be used as the basis for enhancing a federal sentence. Mathis, 136 S.Ct. at 2247. The Iowa statute in question identified several alternative locations where the burglary may take place, including a “building, structure, . . . land, water, or air vehicle.” Id. at 2250. The Court noted that the statute was “indivisible, ” describing a single crime with several possible modes, or “means, ” of commission, and found that because the generic offense of burglary is limited to unlawful entry into a “building or other structure” with intent to commit a crime, the Iowa statute was overbroad. Mathis, 136 S.Ct. at 2248, 2250 (quoting Taylo ...


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