Saenz v. Rivera
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER: Because the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over Mr. Saenz's 28 U.S.C. Section 2241 petition for writ of habeas corpus, the 1 petition is dismissed, without prejudice. Signed by Magistrate Judge Beth Deere on 06/30/2014. (rhm)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
JUAN GUADALUPE SAENZ
Reg # 16701-179
CASE NO.: 2:14CV00053 BD
C.V. RIVERA, Warden,
Federal Correctional Complex,
Forrest City, Arkansas
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Introduction and Background
In January 2007, a jury in the United States District Court for the Southern District
of Texas found Petitioner Juan Guadalupe Saenz guilty of conspiracy to possess, with
intent to distribute, more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana in violation of 21 U.S.C.
§§ 846, 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(A). (#8-1, #8-2) The Honorable Ricardo H. Hinojosa
sentenced Mr. Saenz to 240 months in the Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) and 10 years of
supervised release. (Id.) Mr. Saenz appealed, but the Fifth Circuit affirmed the
conviction and sentence. United States v. Saenz, No. 07-40344, 286 F. App'x 166, 168
(5th Cir. 2008).
Mr. Saenz filed a pro se motion with the trial court under 28 U.S.C. § 2255,
seeking to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence. In the motion, Mr. Saenz claimed
ineffective assistance of trial counsel, a violation of his right to a speedy trial, and
improper enhancement of his sentence based on a prior conviction. (#8-2 at p. 2) The
trial court adopted the recommendation of the magistrate judge and denied the petition
because it was barred by the statute of limitations set forth in the Antiterrorism and
Effective Death Penalty Act (“AEDPA”). (#8-2)
Mr. Saenz filed a pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus (docket entry #1) in
this Court under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 claiming: (1) that he was denied his sixth amendment
right to a speedy trial; (2) that the trial court lacked jurisdiction because the indictment
and amended indictment were “fatally defective” (#2 at pp. 10-14); (3) that his house was
illegally searched in violation of the Fourth Amendment (#2 at pp. 14-15); (4) that he was
sentenced “for a statutory crime different from that which the jury found him guilty,” in
violation of the holdings in Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000), United States v.
Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005), and Alleyne v. United States, 570 U.S. __, 133 S.Ct. 2151
(2013) (#2 at pp. 16-17) in that his prior drug conviction was not submitted to the jury but
rather was used by the trial court to increase his sentence;1 and (5) ineffective assistance
of counsel on several grounds (#2 at pp. 18-25).
In Alleyne v. United States, 570 U.S. —, 133 S.Ct. 2151 (2013), the Supreme
Court held that a fact that increases a defendant's mandatory minimum sentence is an
element of the crime that must be submitted to a jury. See 133 S.Ct. at 2155. However,
the Court in Alleyne left intact the rule that enhancements based on the fact of a prior
conviction are an exception to the general rule that facts increasing the prescribed range
of penalties must be presented to a jury. See id. at 2160 n. 1; see also United States v.
Abrahamson, 731 F.3d 751 (8th Cir. 2013) cert. denied, 134 S. Ct. 1565, 188 L. Ed. 2d
576 (U.S. 2014) reh'g denied, 134 S. Ct. 2332 (U.S. 2014).
Warden Rivera has responded to the petition. He contends that the Court lacks
jurisdiction to hear Mr. Saenz’s petition because it is a challenge to the validity of his
conviction, a challenge that must be brought in a motion to the sentencing court under 28
U.S.C. § 2255. The Court agrees, and for the reasons set forth below, the petition must be
dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.
Generally, a federal inmate may challenge his conviction or sentence only with the
sentencing court through a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct their sentence, under 28
U.S.C. § 2255. Lopez-Lopez v. Sanders, 590 F.3d 905, 907 (8th Cir. 2010)(citing
Abdullah v. Hedrick, 392 F.3d 957, 959 (8th Cir. 2004), cert. denied, 545 U.S. 1147, 125
S.Ct. 2984 (2005)). A claim that a sentence exceeded the maximum allowed under law is
properly brought under § 2255. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a).
A habeas corpus petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2241, on the other hand, attacks the
execution of a sentence, or the manner in which the sentence is being carried out, and it is
within the subject-matter jurisdiction of the court presiding in the judicial district where
the prisoner is being held. Matheny v. Morrison, 307 F.3d 709, 711-712 (8th Cir. 2002).
A court cannot entertain a petition for habeas corpus under § 2241, “if it appears
that the applicant has failed to apply for relief, by [§ 2255] motion, to the court which
sentenced him, or that such court has denied him relief, unless it also appears that the
remedy by [§ 2255] motion is inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of his
detention.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e)(emphasis added)
A petitioner who wishes to be excepted from the requirement of filing with the
sentencing court under § 2255 must demonstrate that seeking relief from the sentencing
court would be inadequate or ineffective. Lopez-Lopez, 590 F.3d at 907 (citing Abdullah,
392 F.3d at 959). But this exception is a “narrowly circumscribed safety valve.” United
States ex rel. Perez v. Warden, FMC Rochester, 286 F.3d 1059, 1061-62 (8th Cir. 2002),
cert. denied, 537 U.S. 869, 123 S.Ct. 275 (2002). The fact that an individual is barred
from filing a § 2255 motion for procedural reasons does not render the remedy inadequate
or ineffective so as to permit a petitioner to file under § 2241. Lopez-Lopez, 590 F.3d at
907. The § 2255 remedy is not inadequate or ineffective because the claim was
previously raised in a § 2255 motion but rejected because the petitioner was denied leave
to file a second or successive § 2255 petition, or because a § 2255 petition was
Here, Mr. Saenz admits that he filed a motion with the trial court under 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255, which was denied because it was barred by the applicable statute of limitations.
(#2 at p. 26) Mr. Saenz argues, however, that the savings clause applies here because the
trial court denied his motion without addressing the merits of his claims. (#1 at p. 8, #2 at
p. 26-27) As set forth above, however, a remedy is not deemed inadequate simply
because a § 2255 petition was dismissed as time-barred. Lopez-Lopez, 590 F.3d at 907.
In this petition, Mr. Saenz clearly challenges his sentence. His direct appeal was
unsuccessful; the sentencing court denied his first § 2255 motion; and he has not
demonstrated that the § 2255 remedy is inadequate or ineffective so as to qualify for the
statute’s savings clause.
Because the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over Mr. Saenz’s 28 U.S.C.
§ 2241 petition for writ of habeas corpus, the petition (#1) is DISMISSED, without
DATED this 30th day of June, 2014.
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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