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Williams v. Wilson

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Fort Worth Division

September 3, 2019

RODGER WILLIAMS, Petitioner,
v.
ERIC D. WILSON, Warden, FMC-Fort Worth, Respondent.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          MARK T. PITTMAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court are federal prisoner Rodger Williams's (“Williams”) petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 and an amended form § 2241 petition (ECF Nos. 1, 5), the Warden Respondent's response with appendix (ECF Nos. 9-10), and Williams's reply (ECF No. 11.) After considering the relief sought by Williams, the record, related briefing, and applicable law, the Court concludes that Williams's § 2241 petition should be DISMISSED for lack of jurisdiction.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Williams was convicted in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a Schedule II controlled substance, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846 and 841(a)(1) & (b)(1)(A)(iii). J., United States v. Williams, No. 3:10-CR-206-D (6) (N.D. Tex. Feb. 10, 2012), ECF No. 414.[1] He was sentenced to 210 months' imprisonment. Id. Williams did not file a direct appeal, but he filed a motion for relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, which was dismissed with prejudice in May 2017. Order and Judgment, Williams v. United States, No. 3:16-CV-01523-D (N.D. Tex. May 30, 2017), ECF Nos. 18, 19. Williams filed a notice of appeal, but that appeal was dismissed for lack of prosecution. United States v. Williams, No. 17-10940 (5th Cir. Sep. 15, 2017). Williams also filed a motion for reduction of sentence under 18 U.S.C. § 3582, but that motion was denied. Order, United States v. Williams, No. 3:10-CR-206-D(6), ECF No. 509. Williams then filed the instant § 2241 petition in this Court. Pet. 1, ECF No. 1.

         II. CLAIMS FOR RELIEF

         Williams asserts that the convicting court improperly sentenced him as a “career offender” because his prior state controlled substance convictions that were used as predicate offenses no longer qualify under the Supreme Court's ruling in Mathis v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 2243 (2016), as interpreted in United States v. Hinkle, 832 F.3d 569 (5th Cir. 2016). Pet. 3-5, ECF No.1; Am. Pet. 5, ECF No. 5. Williams seeks to have the career-offender enhancement vacated and to be re-sentenced. Pet. 5, ECF No. 1.

         III. ANALYSIS

         A motion under § 2255 is the primary means of collaterally attacking a federal conviction or sentence. Jeffers v. Chandler, 253 F.3d 827, 830 (5th Cir.2001) (per curiam) (citing Tolliver v. Dobre, 211 F.3d 876, 877 (5th Cir.2000) (per curiam)). “While § 2241 is more typically used to challenge the execution of a prisoner's sentence, a federal prisoner may bring a petition under § 2241 to challenge the legality of his conviction or sentence if he can satisfy the mandates of the ‘savings clause' of § 2255.” Christopher v. Miles, 342 F.3d 378, 381 (5th Cir. 2003) (citing Reyes-Requena v. United States, 243 F.3d 893, 900-01 (5th Cir. 2001)). The statutory “savings clause” provides,

An application for a writ of habeas corpus in [sic] behalf of a prisoner who is authorized to apply for relief by motion pursuant to this section, shall not be entertained if it appears that the applicant has failed to apply for relief, by motion, to the court which sentenced him, or that such court has denied him relief, unless it also appears that the remedy by motion is inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of his detention.

28 U.S.C. § 2255(e). Under the “savings clause, ” the petitioner has the burden of showing that the § 2255 remedy is “inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of his detention.” Jeffers, 253 F.3d at 830.

         Williams cannot rely on § 2241 merely because he might now be limited in seeking relief under § 2255. Cf. Pack v. Yusuff, 218 F.3d 448, 453 (5th Cir. 2000) (citing Tolliver, 211 F.3d at 878) (holding that neither a prior, unsuccessful § 2255 motion, the limitations bar, nor successiveness renders the § 2255 remedy inadequate or ineffective). Moreover, the Fifth Circuit has determined that, before a petitioner may pursue relief through § 2241 under the language of the § 2255 savings clause, he must show that:

(1) his claim is based on a retroactively applicable Supreme Court decision; (2) the Supreme Court decision establishes that he was “actually innocent” of the charges against him because the decision decriminalized the conduct for which he was convicted; and (3) his claim would have been foreclosed by existing circuit precedent had he raised it at trial, on direct appeal, or in his original § 2255 petition.

Christopher, 342 F.3d at 382 (citing Reyes-Requena, 243 F.3d at 904 and Jeffers, 253 F.3d at 830).

         Williams has not made these showings, and a review of the grounds asserted in his § 2241 petition shows that he cannot make them. Williams does not claim or attempt to demonstrate that he was convicted of a nonexistent offense. Rather he challenges the imposition of his sentence, and not his conviction, and such claims do not fall within the savings clause of § 2255(e). See generally Padilla v. United States, 416 F.3d 424, 427 (5th Cir. 2005) (contrasting claims challenging a sentence from those challenging a conviction). In Logan v. Warden Fed. Corr. Complex Beaumont, the Fifth Circuit reviewed the denial of a § 2241 petition brought pursuant to the savings clause in which the petitioner asserted, as Williams does in this case, that he was erroneously sentenced. Logan, 644 Fed.Appx. 280 (5th Cir. 2016). The Fifth Circuit held that “[i]n the absence of an en banc decision by this court or an intervening Supreme Court decision overruling circuit precedent holding that a § 2241 petition cannot be used to challenge solely the validity of a federal sentence, this court is bound by its own precedent.” Id. at 281 (citing United States v. Traxler, 764 F.3d 486, 489 (5th Cir. 2014)). More particularly, the Fifth Circuit has expressly determined that a claim of actual innocence of the career-offender sentencing enhancement “is not a claim of actual innocence of the crime of conviction and, thus, not the type of claim that warrants ...


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