Renth v. True
ORDER DISMISSING CASE: The Court GRANTS 11 MOTION to Dismiss Petitioner's Petition For Writ of Habeas Corpus filed by B. True and DENIES petitioner's 1 § 2241 habeas petition. This action is DISMISSED with prejudice, and the Clerk shall enter judgment accordingly. Signed by Judge David R. Herndon on 11/8/2017. (lmp)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
ANTHONY R. RENTH,
Civil No. 17-cv-377-DRH-CJP
MEMORANDUM and ORDER
HERNDON, District Judge:
Petitioner Anthony R. Renth filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus under
28 U.S.C. §2241 (Doc. 1) challenging the enhancement of his sentence as a Career
Offender under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1. He purports to rely on Mathis v. United States,
136 S. Ct. 2243 (2016). Now before the Court is Respondent’s Motion to Dismiss
Petitioner’s Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, Doc.
11. Petitioner responded to the motion at Doc. 13.
Respondent argues that the petition must be dismissed because petitioner
waived his right to file a collateral attack.
Relevant Facts and Procedural History
Petitioner pleaded guilty to one count of Conspiracy to Manufacture
Methamphetamine in the Southern District of Illinois. United States v. Renth,
Case No. 13-cr-40024-JPG. He was sentenced to 204 months imprisonment. 1
Renth and the government entered into a written plea agreement which
His sentence was later reduced to 144 months.
recited that his relevant conduct was more than 50 but less than 500 grams and
the possible sentencing range was 10 to 30 years imprisonment, 6 years of
supervised release, a fine of up to $2,000,000, and a $100 special assessment.
Petitioner and the government agreed that it appeared that he would meet the
Career Offender criteria and his initial offense level would therefore be 34 and
that his criminal history would be Category VI. Petitioner and the government
agreed that his sentencing range would be 188-235 months. A copy of the plea
agreement is filed in this habeas case at Doc. 11, Ex. 1. 2
The plea agreement also contained a waiver of the right to appeal or file a
1. The Defendant understands that by pleading guilty, Defendant is waiving
all appellate issues that might have been available if Defendant had
exercised the right to trial. The Defendant is fully satisfied with the
representation received from defense counsel. The Defendant acknowledges
that the Government has provided complete discovery compliance in this
case. The Defendant has reviewed the Government's evidence and has
discussed the Government's case, possible defenses and defense witnesses
with defense counsel.
2. The Defendant is aware that Title 18, Title 28, and other provisions of
the United States Code afford every defendant limited rights to contest a
conviction and/or sentence through appeal or collateral attack. However, in
exchange for the recommendations and concessions made by the United
States in this plea agreement, the Defendant knowingly and voluntarily
waives his right to contest any aspect of his conviction and sentence that
could be contested under Title 18 or Title 28, or under any other provision
of federal law, except that if the sentence imposed is in excess of the
Sentencing Guidelines as determined by the Court (or any applicable
statutory minimum, whichever is greater), the Defendant reserves the right
to appeal the reasonableness of the sentence. The Defendant acknowledges
that in the event such an appeal is taken, the Government reserves the right
to fully and completely defend the sentence imposed, including any and all
factual and legal findings supporting the sentence, even if the sentence
The Court uses the document, exhibit and page numbers assigned by the CM/ECF filing system.
imposed is ·more severe than that recommended by the Government.
3. Defendant's waiver of his right to appeal or bring collateral challenges
shall not apply to: 1) any subsequent change in the interpretation of the law
by the United States Supreme Court or the United States Court of Appeals
for the Seventh Circuit that is declared retroactive by those Courts and that
renders the defendant actually innocent of the charges covered herein; and
2) appeals based upon Sentencing Guideline amendments that are made
retroactive by the United States Sentencing Commission (see U.S.S.G. § 1B
1.1 0). The Government reserves the right to oppose such claims for relief.
Doc. 11, Ex. 1, pp. 7-8.
On September 27, 2013, the Court found that the sentence range was 188
to 235 months and sentenced petitioner to 204 months imprisonment. Case No.
13-cr-40024-JPG, Doc. 75.
Renth did not file a direct appeal or a motion under 28 U.S.C. §2255.
Citing Mathis v. United States, 136 S. Ct. 2243 (2016), Renth argues that
his prior felony drug convictions do not qualify as controlled substance offenses
for purposes of the Career Offender enhancement under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.2. It is
unnecessary to consider the substantive merits of his argument because this
collateral attack is barred by the waiver in the plea agreement.
There is no doubt that a plea agreement may include a valid waiver of the
right to appeal and to file a collateral attack, and that such waivers are generally
enforceable, with limited exceptions. Solano v. United States, 812 F.3d 573, 577
(7th Cir. 2016). The limited exceptions are where the plea agreement itself was
involuntary, the defendant argues ineffective assistance of counsel with regard to
the negotiation of the plea, the sentencing court relied on a constitutionally
impermissible factor such as race, or the sentence exceeded the statutory
maximum. Keller v. United States, 657 F.3d 675, 681 (7th Cir. 2011). A waiver
of the right to bring a collateral attack on a conviction or sentence bars a §2241
petition; the waiver does not make the remedy afforded by §2255 inadequate or
ineffective so as to open the door to a § 2241 petition. Muse v. Daniels, 815 F.3d
265, 266 (7th Cir. 2016).
Further, a subsequent change in the law does not
render an appeal waiver involuntary. United States v. Vela, 740 F.3d 1150, 1151
(7th Cir. 2014).
The Seventh Circuit has enforced appeal waivers against challenges to
career offender designations.
United States v. Smith, 759 F.3d 702 (7th Cir.
2014); United States v. McGraw, 571 F.3d 624 (7th Cir. 2009); United States v.
Standiford, 148 F.3d 864 (7th Cir. 1998).
McGraw is instructive; there, the
defendant argued that the convictions used categorize him as a career offender no
longer constituted crimes of violence after Begay v. United States, 128 S.Ct. 1581
The Seventh Circuit enforced the waiver, noting that “We have
consistently rejected arguments that an appeal waiver is invalid because the
defendant did not anticipate subsequent legal developments.” McGraw, 571 F.3d
In response to the motion, petitioner argues the waiver does not apply
because he was sentenced above his correct Guidelines range.
He appears to
argue that the correct range was 151 to 188 months even with the Career Offender
enhancement, and not 188 to 235 months as found by the Court at sentencing.
He argues that, “for a Criminal History Category VI, a range of 188-235 months
does not apply to any [offense] level below 31.” Doc. 13, p. 4. However, the plea
agreement and PSI report indicate that his offense level was 31, and not, as he
argues, 29. See, Doc. 9, p. 3; Doc. 11, Ex. 1, p. 4. The minutes of the sentencing
hearing confirm that the Court determined that his Guidelines range was 188 to
235 months based on an offense level of 31 and a criminal history category of VI.
Case No. 13-cr-40024-JPG, Doc. 75.
Besides being factually incorrect, this
argument fails under the clear language of the plea agreement. The exception to
the waiver clearly states that the waiver does not apply “if the sentence imposed is
in excess of the Sentencing Guidelines as determined by the Court (or any
applicable statutory minimum, whichever is greater).”
Petitioner was not
sentenced in excess of the Guidelines range as determined by the Court.
Petitioner also argues that the waiver does not apply to any subsequent
change in the law as declared by the Supreme Court or the Seventh Circuit “that
is declared retroactive by those Courts and that renders the defendant actually
innocent of the charges covered herein.” However, even if Mathis announces a
change in the law, it is not a change that would render petitioner innocent of the
charge of conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine.
Renth also quarrels with respondent’s statement that the government
agreed to “numerous” conditions and concessions as part of the plea agreement.
Whether the conditions and concessions can be characterized as numerous or not
has no effect on the validity of the waiver.
Lastly, petitioner argues that his guilty plea was not knowing and voluntary
because it was based on the understanding that his Sentencing Guidelines range
was 188 to 235 months and that he genuinely qualified as a Career Offender.
That argument rests on the correctness of Renth’s claim for habeas relief, i.e., that
he was incorrectly categorized as a Career Offender.
squarely rejected such a circular argument.
The Seventh Circuit has
“[I]f the very argument raised in
apparent violation of an appeal waiver must be decided on the merits in order to
know whether the sentence is unlawful (and thus the waiver is unenforceable), we
would ‘eviscerate the right to waive an appeal’ by creating a rule ‘that an appeal
waiver is enforceable unless the appellant would succeed on the merits of his
United States v. Carson, 855 F.3d 828, 831 (7th Cir. 2017), citing
United States v. Worthen, 842 F.3d 552, 555 (7th Cir. 2016).
For the foregoing reasons, Respondent’s Motion to Dismiss Petitioner’s
Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241(Doc. 11) is
Anthony R. Renth’s Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus under 28 U.S.C.
§2241 (Doc. 1) is DENIED. This action is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
The Clerk of Court shall enter judgment in favor of respondent.
Digitally signed by Judge
David R. Herndon
IT IS SO ORDERED.
United States District Judge
If petitioner wishes to appeal the denial of his petition, he may file a notice
of appeal with this court within sixty days of the entry of judgment. Fed. R. App.
P. 4(a)(1)(B). A motion for leave to appeal in forma pauperis should set forth the
issues petitioner plans to present on appeal. See Fed. R. App. P. 24(a)(1)(C).
Petitioner is further advised that a motion to alter or amend the judgment
filed pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e) must be filed no later than 28 days after the
entry of the judgment—a deadline that cannot be extended. A proper and timely
Rule 59(e) motion may toll the 60-day appeal deadline. Other motions, including
a Rule 60 motion for relief from a final judgment, order, or proceeding, do not toll
the deadline for an appeal.
It is not necessary for petitioner to obtain a certificate of appealability from
this disposition of his §2241 petition. Walker v. O’Brien, 216 F.3d 626, 638 (7th
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