United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
M. YANDLE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Robert Stanford Johnson, an inmate in the Bureau of Prisons,
filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus under 28 U.S.C.
§ 2241 on April 16, 2018. (Doc. 1). Johnson was
sentenced to 180 months imprisonment in 2013 after pleading
guilty to possession with intent to distribute cocaine in
violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and
841(b)(1)(C). United States v. Robert Stanford
Johnson, No. 13-cr-0009-JEG-RAW-1, Doc. 40 (S.D. Iowa
June 14, 2013). His Guidelines range was enhanced after he
was found to be a career offender under U.S.S.G. §
4B1.1, based in part on a 2001 Iowa controlled substance
conviction. (Doc. 8-2, pp. 24-27).
now invokes Mathis v. United States, ___ U.S. ___,
136 S.Ct. 2243 (2016) to challenge his designation as a
career offender based on the Iowa conviction and contends he
is entitled to be resentenced without that designation.
Specifically, Johnson argues that this prior conviction does
not qualify as a “controlled substance offense”
under the Guidelines because the underlying Iowa statute
criminalizes the “mere offer to sell, ” which
penalizes broader behavior than laws prohibiting the
manufacture, import, export, distribution, or dispensing of a
controlled substance as defined by U.S.S.G. § 4B1.2(b).
(Doc. 1, pp. 24-26).
opposes issuance of the Writ on multiple grounds: (1) Johnson
waived his collateral challenge rights as part of his plea
agreement, which forecloses his Petition (Doc. 8, p. 12); (2)
Johnson's sentence cannot be deemed a “miscarriage
of justice” under § 2255(e)'s savings clause,
as it fell within the statutory maximum penalty for his crime
of conviction regardless of his career offender designation
(Id. at pp. 4-8); and (3) Johnson's Iowa
controlled substance conviction was properly considered a
“controlled substance offense” because it
categorically fits within the Guidelines' definition-thus
his claim fails on the merits (Id. at pp. 10-12).
Johnson replied to Respondent's response. (Doc. 12).
matter is now ripe for resolution. For the reasons discussed
below, Johnson's § 2241 Petition (Doc. 1) will be
History and Relevant Facts
14, 2013, Johnson pled guilty to one count of possession with
intent to distribute cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C.
§§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(C). United States v.
Robert Stanford Johnson, No. 13-cr-0009-JEG-RAW-1, Doc.
40 (S.D. Iowa June 14, 2013). Johnson entered into a formal
plea agreement in which he agreed that he “knowingly
and expressly waive[d] any and all rights to contest [his]
conviction in any post-conviction proceedings, including any
proceedings under 28 U.S.C. § 2255.” (Doc. 8-1,
pp. 7-8). However, this waiver included an express
preservation of the right for either party to “appeal
any sentence imposed by the district court, to the extent
than an appeal is authorized by law.” (Id. at
neither party provided the Presentence Report
(“PSR”) to the Court, there is no dispute that
Johnson was determined to be a career offender under the
Guidelines by the sentencing court, in part due to his prior
2001 Iowa controlled substance conviction. (Doc. 1, pp. 2-3;
Doc. 8, pp. 3, 10-12). Johnson's statutory sentencing range
was 0-20 years (240 months) imprisonment. 21 U.S.C. §
841(b)(1)(C). Johnson was sentenced to 180 months
imprisonment on June 14, 2013 - within the Guidelines range
of 151 to 188 months after the career offender designation
was applied. (Doc. 8-2, pp. 6-7, 25-26).
filed a direct appeal challenging the reasonableness of his
sentence, which was summarily dismissed by the Eighth
Circuit. Johnson, No. 13-cr-0009-JEG-RAW, Doc. 52-1
(S.D. Iowa Dec. 10, 2013). He then filed his first motion
under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 in the Southern District of Iowa,
arguing that his trial counsel provided ineffective
representation during his plea negotiations and sentencing.
This motion was denied in all respects, Johnson v. United
States, 14-cv-0492-JEG, Doc. 3 (S.D. Iowa March 3,
2015), and the Eighth Circuit declined to issue a certificate
of appealability. Id. at Doc. 13.
subsequently filed two applications for leave to file
successive § 2255 petitions. The first, premised on
Samuel Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2251
(2015), argued that the Guidelines' career offender
provisions are unconstitutionally vague; the second argued
that new evidence of his trial counsel's ineffective
assistance required his sentence to be overturned. Both
applications were denied by the Eighth Circuit. See
Johnson v. United States, No. 16-2624 (8th Cir. Oct. 20,
2016); Johnson v. United States, No. 17-3587 (8th
Cir. March 13, 2018).
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). Aside from the direct appeal process, a § 2255
motion is ordinarily the “exclusive means for a federal
prisoner to attack his conviction.” Kramer v.
Olson, 347 F.3d 214, 217 (7th Cir. 2003). A prisoner is
generally limited to one challenge of his conviction
and sentence under § 2255 and may not file a
“second or successive” § 2255 motion unless
a panel of the appropriate court of appeals certifies that
such motion either 1) contains 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) invokes “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).
very limited circumstances, however, it is possible for a
prisoner to challenge his federal conviction or sentence
under § 2241. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e) contains a
“savings clause” under which a federal prisoner
can file a § 2241 petition when 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.”
Following Davenport, a petitioner must meet three
conditions 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 ...