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Guardiola v. Entzel

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

January 7, 2020

F. ENTZEL, Respondent.

          ORDER & OPINION


         This matter is before the Court on Petitioner Jesse Guardiola's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus Under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 (Doc. 1). At the Court's direction, the Government filed a Response (Doc. 2) and Petitioner has filed a Reply (Doc. 7). The matter is therefore ripe for review. For the reasons stated herein, the Petition is DENIED.


         A lengthy background is unnecessary. In October 2016 Petitioner pled guilty to five counts of possession of a firearm by a felon in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). In Rehaif v. United States, 139 S.Ct. 2191 (2019), the Supreme Court held the word “knowingly” in § 922(g) applies to the status making it unlawful to possess a firearm, in addition to knowledge that the object possessed was a firearm. It appears uncontested that Petitioner was not told he needed to know he had been convicted of a felony or asked about such knowledge in colloquy-at the time, the scienter requirement was not understood to apply to knowledge of one's status. Petitioner therefore filed the instant petition arguing he ought not remain imprisoned pursuant to his plea.

         Legal Standard

         A legal labyrinth confronts prisoners held pursuant to a federal sentence seeking relief through 28 U.S.C. § 2241. A person may only challenge a federal conviction or sentence under § 2241 if 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e), the “savings clause, ” allows. Webster v. Daniels, 784 F.3d 1123, 1135 (7th Cir. 2015) (en banc). Section 2255(e) permits recourse through § 2241 only where the motion provided under § 2255 is “inadequate or ineffective to test the legality” of the challenged detention. § 2255(e); Webster, 784 F.3d at 1135. The Seventh Circuit has held § 2255 is inadequate or ineffective where:

(1) the claim relies on a statutory interpretation case, not a constitutional case and thus could not have been invoked by a successive § 2255 motion; (2) the petitioner could not have invoked the decision in his first § 2255 motion and the decision applies retroactively; and (3) the error is grave enough to be deemed a miscarriage of justice.

Beason v. Marske, 926 F.3d 932, 935 (7th Cir. 2019).

         The claim must also not be procedurally defaulted, which is to say it must have been raised on direct review. Bousley v. United States, 523 U.S. 614, 621 (1998). If a claim has been procedurally defaulted, a petitioner may only raise it upon a showing of either cause and prejudice or actual innocence. Id. Only if a claim meets all these requirements may a court consider a petition on the merits.

         Finally, Petitioner is proceeding pro se. Pro se filings are to be liberally construed. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007).


         The Government argues as an initial matter Petitioner cannot utilize § 2241 because he never filed a § 2255 petition and thus is not barred by § 2255(h)(2). This issue is far from open and shut, as the Government suggests.

         The Seventh Circuit's precedent on § 2255(e) springs from In re Davenport, 147 F.3d 605 (7th Cir. 1998). As the Seventh Circuit explained, one of the petitioners in that case “could not use a first motion under [§ 2255] to obtain relief on a basis not yet established by law. He could not use a second or other successive motion to obtain that relief because the basis on which he seeks relief is neither newly discovered evidence nor a new rule of constitutional law.” Id. at 610. There is no doubt that issues with § 2255(h)(2), according to the Seventh Circuit, form a structural inadequacy with § 2255 sufficient to allow a § 2241 petition.

         However, there may be a similar structural issue with § 2255(f). That section sets a one-year statute of limitations for filing § 2255 motions, which runs from the date on which: (1) the judgment becomes final, § 2255(f)(1); (2) an impediment created by the United States is removed, § 2255(f)(2); (3) the Supreme Court decides a new rule of constitutional law (which must also be made retroactive), § 2255(f)(3); or (4) evidence supporting a claim could have been discovered with reasonable diligence, § 2255(f)(4). Subsection (f)(3) parallels subsection (h)(2) and similarly fails to take into account the potential for a new statutory interpretation case. Both subsections cut off federal prisoners' access to habeas relief where their claim is statutory while allowing similarly situated constitutional claims. So a petitioner might be unable to bring a § ...

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