United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
A. BEATTY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Randall Lee Rank (“Rank”), a federal prisoner
incarcerated at FCI-Greenville, filed a pro se
Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2241 on June 4, 2019. (Doc. 1). He invokes Mathis
v. United States, -- U.S. --, 136 S.Ct. 2243 (2016), to
argue that his two prior Iowa state drug convictions should
not have been used to increase the statutory minimum penalty
for his federal drug conviction under 18 U.S.C. §
841(a)(1), (b)(1)(A), and § 851. Rank is serving a
240-month sentence imposed by the Northern District of Iowa
in No. 06-CR-3011-MWB in 2006.
T.G. Werlich (“Respondent”) filed a Motion to
Dismiss the Habeas Petition (Doc. 15), arguing that
Rank's written guilty plea agreement waived his right to
bring a collateral attack. Rank did not file a response to
the motion, despite the Court's admonition that a failure
to respond could be considered an admission of the
motion's merits, and would likely lead to dismissal.
(Doc. 19). For the reasons stated below, the motion to
dismiss (Doc. 15) is granted.
Facts and Procedural History
was indicted in March 2006 on five counts relating to
manufacturing and distributing methamphetamine, as well as
associated conspiracy, possession, and attempt offenses.
(Doc. 1, pp. 6-7; Doc. 15, p. 3; Doc. 15-3). The Government
filed a notice of intent to seek enhanced penalties under 21
U.S.C. § 851, based on Rank's prior felony drug
conviction. (Doc. 1, p. 7; Doc. 15, p. 3; Doc. 15-4). In July
2006, Rank entered into a written plea agreement in which he
pled guilty to Counts 1-3 of the indictment. (Doc. 1, p. 7;
Doc. 15-5). Count 1 was for conspiracy to manufacture and
distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, in violation
of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) & 841(b)(1)(A), and
distribution/possession with intent to distribute 500 grams
or more of a substance containing methamphetamine, in
violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(B),
& 846. Id. Counts 2 and 3 were for manufacture
and attempt to manufacture 5 grams or more of
methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§
841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(A), & 846. Id. The
remaining counts were dismissed.
plea agreement included an admission by Rank that he had been
convicted in 2003 in Webster County, Iowa of felony delivery
of methamphetamine. (Doc. 1, p. 7; Doc. 15, p. 4; Doc. 15-5,
p. 14, ¶ 37E). Further, the agreement included a waiver
of Rank's right to appeal or collaterally attack his
conviction and sentence. (Doc. 15, p. 4; Doc. 15-5, p. 12,
presentence report (“PSR”) calculated Rank's
advisory sentencing guideline at a range of 235-293 months.
However, the statutory range for Count 1 under 21 U.S.C.
§§ 841(b)(1)(A) & 851 was a minimum of 20 years
to a maximum of life, because of the enhancement based on
Rank's 2003 state felony drug conviction. (Doc. 17, pp.
17-18). As a result, the bottom of Rank's sentencing
guideline range was raised to 240 months. Id. The
PSR noted that without the plea agreement, the Career
Offender enhancement could have been applied to increase
Rank's guideline range to 262-327 months. (Doc. 15, p. 5;
Doc. 17, p. 18). Further, it appeared that Rank had a second
prior felony drug conviction, which could have subjected him
to a statutory mandatory minimum of life rather than 20
years. Id.; (Doc. 1, p. 8 n.1).
October 2006, the district court sentenced Rank to the
statutory mandatory minimum of 240 months.
did not file an appeal, but in October 2007, he filed a
motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, claiming ineffective
assistance of counsel. (Doc. 1, pp. 3, 7; Doc. 15-6);
Rank v. United States, No. 07-cv-3075-MWB (N.D.
Iowa). On October 14, 2009, the district court denied the
motion. (Doc. 15-8). The Eighth Circuit denied Rank's
application for a certificate of appealability and dismissed
his appeal on January 19, 2010. Rank v. United
States, No. 07-cv-3075-MWB, Doc. 13 (N.D. Iowa).
2017, Rank filed a motion under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 60(b) in the district court, challenging his
sentencing enhancement under § 851 and again asserting
his ineffective assistance of counsel claim. (Doc. 15, p. 6;
Doc. 15-10). The district court construed this as an
unauthorized second or successive § 2255 motion, and
denied it in October 2017. (Doc. 15-11). Rank's
subsequent petition to the Eighth Circuit for authorization
to file a successive habeas application was denied on June 7,
2019. (Doc. 15-11). This action followed.
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 ordinarily 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 normally 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 ...