McCoy v. True
ORDER DISMISSING CASE: The Court GRANTS respondent's 11 MOTION to Dismiss Defendant's Petition For Relief Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Section 2241 and DISMISSES petitioner's 1 § 2241 habeas petition with prejudice. The Clerk shall enter judgment accordingly. Signed by Judge David R. Herndon on 1/8/2018. (lmp)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
STEVEN L. MCCOY
Civil No. 17-cv-00657-DRH-CJP 1
WILLIAM TRUE, WARDEN
MEMORANDUM and ORDER
Petitioner Steven L. McCoy (Petitioner) filed a petition for writ of habeas
corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 challenging the enhancement of his sentence as a
career offender under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1. (Doc. 1). 2 He purports to rely on Mathis
v. United States, 136 S. Ct. 2243 (2016).
Now before the Court is
Respondent’s Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. 11). Petitioner did not file a responsive
For the following reasons, Petitioner’s petition for habeas relief is
Relevant Facts and Procedural History
In 2007, Petitioner executed a plea agreement and pled guilty to possession
with intent to distribute cocaine base, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). United
States v. McCoy, Case No. 07-CR-30012-MJR (S.D. IL) (hereinafter criminal case)
(Doc. 37). The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois categorized
Petitioner as a career offender based on his prior state felony convictions for
The Court uses the document, exhibit and page numbers assigned by the CM/ECF filing system.
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unlawful possession of cannabis with intent to deliver, unlawful delivery of a
controlled substance, and robbery. (Doc. 37, p. 8, criminal case). The Court
sentenced Petitioner to 200 months imprisonment to run consecutive to two state
court sentences he was already serving. 3 (Doc. 40, criminal case).
Petitioner’s plea agreement contains provisions waiving his right to appeal:
1. The Defendant understands that by pleading guilty, he is waiving
all appellate issues that might have been available if he had
exercised his right to trial.
2. The Defendant is aware that Tile 18, Title 28, and other
provisions of the United States Code afford every defendant
limited rights to contest a conviction and/or sentence.
Acknowledging all this, and in exchange for the recommendations
and concessions made by the Government 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 . . .
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, which
is declared retroactive by those Courts, and which renders the
Defendant actually innocent of the charges covered herein, and 2)
appeals based upon Sentencing Guideline amendments which are
made retroactive by the United States Sentencing Commission . . .
(Doc. 37, pp. 10-11, criminal case).
Citing Mathis v. United States, 136 S. Ct. 2243 (2016), Petitioner argues
that his prior state convictions do not qualify as violent offenses or controlled
substance offenses for purposes of the career offender enhancement under
St. Clair County, IL Case Nos. 03-CF-1415 and 04-CF-1179
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U.S.S.G. § 4B1.2.
It is unnecessary to consider the substantive merits of his
argument because the appeal waiver bars this collateral attack.
A plea agreement may include a valid waiver of the right to appeal and file a
collateral attack, and such waivers are generally enforceable. Solano v. United
States, 812 F.3d 573, 577 (7th Cir. 2016). Limited exceptions arise when 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).
Petitioner asserts his appeals waiver is not applicable to his claims;
dismissing his petition would result in a miscarriage of justice; and he did not
knowingly enter into the plea agreement.
1. Exceptions Contained in the Plea Agreement
Petitioner first argues the appeal waiver does not bar his petition because of
the following provision in his plea agreement:
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, which is declared retroactive by those Courts, and
which renders the Defendant actually innocent of the charges covered
herein, and 2) appeals based upon Sentencing Guideline amendments
which are made retroactive by the United States Sentencing Commission . .
(Doc. 37, pp. 10-11, criminal case).
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Petitioner argues Mathis renders him “actually innocent of the charge” of
being a career offender under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1. Contrary to this assertion, the
career offender designation is not a “charge,” but a sentence enhancement.
Rather, the charge contained in the plea agreement is possession with intent to
distribute cocaine base, (Doc. 37, p. 5, criminal case), and Mathis does not
absolve him of that crime.
Petitioner’s second argument is also unavailing because Mathis did not
amend the sentencing guidelines.
Mathis is a statutory construction case that
determined what constitutes a “violent felony” for purposes of a sentence
enhancement under the Armed Career Criminal Act (18 U.S.C.A. § 924(e)).
The appeals waiver in Petitioner’s plea agreement is clearly applicable to his
claims. He must therefore show that enforcing the agreement would result in a
miscarriage of justice or that he entered into the agreement unknowingly.
2 . Miscarriage of Justice
Petitioner next argues that refusing to entertain his petition would result in
a miscarriage of justice.
However, the Seventh Circuit in Hawkins v. United
States already determined that an error calculating a guidelines range does not
amount to a miscarriage of justice for purposes of habeas relief due to the
advisory nature of the sentencing guidelines.
706 F.3d 820, 824-25 (7th Cir.
2013). Petitioner’s argument is therefore meritless.
3. Knowing and Voluntary Plea Agreement
Finally, Petitioner contends he did not enter into the plea agreement
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knowingly. An appeal waiver is valid only if it was entered into knowingly and
United States v. Woolley, 123 F.3d 627, 632 (7th Cir. 1997).
Petitioner argues he did not enter into the waiver knowingly because the District
Court and the parties could not anticipate the ruling in Mathis.
Circuit has “consistently rejected arguments that an appeal waiver is invalid
because the defendant did not anticipate subsequent legal developments.” United
States v. McGraw, 571 F.3d 624, 631 (7th Cir. 2009). The Seventh Circuit views
plea agreements through the lens
of contract law, albeit with certain
Constitutional considerations. United States v. Bownes, 405 F.3d 634, 636 (7th
Cir. 2005). In a contract, and equally in a plea agreement, a person binds himself
to do something in exchange for some benefit, and assumes the risk of future
changes in circumstances. Id. Accordingly, the fact that Petitioner, here, may
have struck what turned out to be a bad bargain does not render his plea
The record otherwise demonstrates the appeal waiver was made knowingly
The Court conducted a plea colloquy and ensured Petitioner
understood the nature of his guilty plea and the consequences of entering into the
plea agreement. Petitioner testified he could read, write, speak, and understand
English; was thinking clearly; was not under the influence of medicines or drugs;
and had not been treated for mental problems within the previous six months.
(Doc. 50, pp. 2-3, criminal case). The Court then addressed the plea agreement,
and Petitioner assured he went over the document in detail with his attorney
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before signing it; understood the agreement; and had no further questions about
it. Id. at pp. 6-11. Petitioner specifically stated, “I would rather take the 188 to
235 months than face 30 to life.” Id. at p. 8. Finally, the Court went over the
appeals waiver contained in the agreement and Petitioner demonstrated an
understanding of what he was bargaining away. Id. at pp. 10-11.
In sum, the record demonstrates Petitioner entered into the plea agreement
knowingly and voluntarily, and the appeals waiver withstands scrutiny.
Respondent’s Motion to Dismiss Petitioner’s Petition for Writ of Habeas
Corpus Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 (Doc. 11) is GRANTED.
Steven L. McCoy’s Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus under 28 U.S.C. §
2241 (Doc. 1) is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
The Clerk of Court shall enter judgment in favor of Respondent.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
United States District Judge
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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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