United States District Court, W.D. Texas, El Paso Division
RAUL VALDEZ HERNANDEZ, Reg. No. 00901-408, Petitioner,
FCI LA TUNA, Respondent.
ORDER OF DISMISSAL
R. MARTINEZ, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
day, the Court considered Petitioner Raul Valdez
Hernandez's [“Petitioner”] pro se
“Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus, Pursuant to the
Second Chance Act of 2007, Reauthorized by the First Step Act
of December 21, 2018” (ECF No. 1) [hereinafter
“Petition”], filed on April 12, 2019, in the
above-captioned cause. Therein, Petitioner asks the Court to
grant him a sentence reduction. Pet. 1, Apr. 12, 2019, ECF
No. 1. After due consideration, the Court is of the opinion
that the Petition should be dismissed, for the reasons that
Bureau of Investigations (“FBI”) special agents
identified Petitioner as the main source of methamphetamine
in the Yavapai Apache Nation during a 2013 anti-drug
initiative. United States v. Hernandez,
3:13-CR-8066-DGC-1 (D. Ariz.), United States' Sentencing
Mem. 1, August 13, 2014, ECF No. 58. The FBI special agents
worked with a confidential source who purchased
methamphetamine from Petitioner on February 5, 2013, for
$290.00; on February 12, 2013, for $250.00; on February 18,
2013, for $320.00; and on March 26, 2013, for $480.00.
pleaded guilty on May 23, 2014, pursuant to a Plea Agreement,
to possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine,
in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a) and
941(b)(1)(C). Id., J. Crim. Case, Jan. 9, 2015, ECF
No. 69. In the Plea Agreement, the parties stipulated
“that the Defendant shall receive a sentence of not
less than 10 years, but no greater than 15 years,
imprisonment.” Id., Plea Agreement 3, Jan. 5,
2015, ECF No. 71. The court accepted Petitioner's plea
and sentenced him, apparently in accordance with the terms of
the Plea Agreement, to 120 months' imprisonment.
Id., J. Crim. Case.
is now a prisoner confined at the La Tuna Federal
Correctional Institution in Anthony, Texas. In his Petition,
he asks the Court to reduce his sentence “under the
First Step Act's sentencing reform provisions.”
Pet. 2. Specifically, he “avers” that the Act
reduced the “Mandatory Minimum penalties for some drug
offenders like him.” Id. Additionally,
Petitioner notes that the Act also “increase[d] the
number of offenders eligible for relief” under
“Safety Valve.” Id.
not clear whether Petitioner seeks relief through a petition
for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
2241, a motion to modify a sentence pursuant to 18 U.S.C.
§ 3582, or a pleading pursuant to the First Step Act.
28 U.S.C. § 2241
“A section 2241 petition for habeas corpus on behalf of
a sentenced prisoner attacks the manner in which his sentence
is carried out or the prison authorities' determination
of its duration.” Pack v. Yusuff, 218 F.3d
448, 451 (5th Cir. 2000) (citations omitted). To prevail, a
§ 2241 petitioner must show that he is “in custody
in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the
United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c). A § 2241
petitioner may make this attack only in the district court
with jurisdiction over his custodian. United States v.
Cleto, 956 F.2d 83, 84 (5th Cir. 1992).
its initial screening of a habeas corpus petition, a
reviewing court accepts a petitioner's allegations as
true. 28 U.S.C. § 2243; Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007). Additionally, a
reviewing court evaluates a petition presented by a pro se
petitioner under a more lenient standard than it would apply
to a petition submitted by counsel. Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). A court must
“award the writ or issue an order directing the
respondent to show cause why the writ should not be granted,
unless it plainly appears from the petition and any attached
exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to
relief.” 28 U.S.C. foll. § 2254 R. 4; see
id. R. 1(b) (explaining the Rules Governing § 2254
Cases in the United States District Courts are applicable to
§ 2241 petitions).
18 U.S.C. § 3582
district court generally may not modify a sentence because
“a judgment of conviction that includes [a sentence of
imprisonment] constitutes a final judgment.” Dillon
v. United States, 560 U.S. 817, 824 (2010) (quoting
§ 3582(b)). Nevertheless, under an exception to the
general rule in 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2), a court may
modify a defendant's sentence “when it is for
‘a term of imprisonment based on a sentencing range
that has subsequently been lowered by the Sentencing
Commission.'” United States v. Doublin,
572 F.3d 235, 237 (2009) (quoting 18 U.S.C. §
3582(c)(2)). However, a court may reduce an otherwise final
sentence under a Guidelines amendment only if the reduction
is consistent with the Sentencing Commission's relevant
policy statement-contained in Sentencing Guideline §
1B1.10-and after considering the sentencing factors in 18
U.S.C. § 3553(a). Dillon, 560 U.S. at 821.
§ 3553(a) factors include “the nature and
circumstances of the offense and the history and
characteristics of the defendant” and “the need
for the sentence imposed . . . to protect the public from
further crimes of the defendant.” 18 U.S.C.
§§ 3553(a)(1), (a)(2)(C). “The court may also
consider the defendant's post-sentencing conduct in
determining whether a reduction is warranted.”
United States v. Rios, 657 Fed.Appx. 255, 258 (5th
Cir. 2016) (quoting U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Manual §
1B1.10, cmt. n.1(B)(iii) (U.S. Sentencing Comm'n 2010)).
ameliorative amendments to the Guidelines do not create a
right to a sentence reduction.” United States v.
Osborn, 679 F.3d 1193, 1196 (10th Cir. 2012). Rather,
even if a defendant is eligible, “the decision whether
to reduce a sentence is left to the sound discretion of the
trial court” and is reviewed “for abuse of
discretion only.” United States v.
Gonzalez-Balderas, 105 F.3d 981, 982 (5th Cir. 1997).