Delgado v. USA
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER, The Court GRANTS the Government's Motion to Reconsider (Doc. 30). Delgado's Petition is summarily DISMISSED with prejudice (Doc. 1). Having disposed of this case, the Court CANCELS the hearing currently scheduled for September 29, 2022, at 9 a.m. Signed by Judge J. Phil Gilbert on 9/16/2022. (jdh)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
RUBEN ALBERTO DELGADO, JR.,
Case No. 20-cv-00931-JPG
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter comes before the Court on Respondent United States of America
(“Government” or “Respondent”) Notice of Supplemental Authority and Motion to Reconsider.
(Doc. 30). The Petitioner Ruben Alberto Delgado, Jr. (“Delgado” or “Petitioner”) did not file a
This Court has detailed the factual circumstances in a Memorandum and Order on April
26, 2021. (Mem. & Order, Doc. 24). On March 8, 2012, Delgado pled guilty of possession with
intent to distribute cocaine (Count 2 of the indictment) and one count of being a felon in possession
of ammunition (Count 3 of the indictment). Delgado was sentenced to 120 months’ imprisonment.
Delgado filed a 28 U.S.C. § 2241 petition seeking habeas relief under Rehaif v. v. United States,
139 S. Ct. 2191 (2019). In the Court’s previous order, the Court found that there was a “miscarriage
of justice.” Id. The Court, however, before entering a ruling granting Delgado’s § 2241, set a
hearing to determine whether resentencing Delgado on his concurrent sentence would actually
result in a shorter sentence.
The Government now notices the Court regarding Santiago v. Streeval, 36 F.4th 700 (7th
Cir. 2022), a case decided two months after this Court issued its ruling and asks the Court to
reconsider its previously ruling and finding a “miscarriage of justice” occurred. In Santiago, the
Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals clarified the legal standard for a finding of a “miscarriage of
justice” in a § 2241 in a Rehaif case. The Court now turns to the specifics of the Government’s
Law & Analysis
Because the Court previously issued findings, the Government moves for reconsideration
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b). Additionally, based on the “law of the case” doctrine,
this Court has authority “to reconsider a previous ruling in the same litigation” and is authorized
to do so “if there is a compelling reason, such as a change in, or clarification of, law that makes
clear that the earlier ruling was erroneous.” Santamarina v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 466 F.3d 570,
572 (7th Cir. 2006).
The Seventh Circuit in Santiago clarified the standard under § 2241. As stated in the
Court’s previous order, the focus is on the third element of the savings clause. 1 The Government
argues that the third element of the Davenport test requires a “showing a miscarriage of justice”
which means showing actual innocence. (Doc. 30 at 6-7). The Court agrees and reconsiders its
finding of “actual innocence” in light of the clarification outlined in Santiago. Defendant has failed
to meet the burden under the demanding standard outlined by the Seventh Circuit. The court in
Santiago states the following:
Accordingly, to prove actual innocence, the petitioner must show that more likely
than not ... no reasonable juror would find him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This standard seeks to ensure that petitioner's case is truly extraordinary ... while
still providing petitioner a meaningful avenue by which to avoid a manifest
injustice. To meet that demanding standard, a petitioner must often offer new
reliable evidence—whether it be exculpatory scientific evidence, trustworthy
eyewitness accounts, or critical physical evidence—that was not presented at trial
to prove actual innocence.
The parties rely on a new statutory case, and it applies retroactively, the first and second elements, respectively.
Santiago, 36 F.4th at 707 (cleaned up). Thus, the Santiago court held that “[t]o establish actual
innocence here, Santiago must show that no reasonable juror would find beyond a reasonable doubt
that he knew that either of his prior convictions was for a crime that carried a potential sentence
of more than one year in prison.” Id. The Seventh Circuit additionally stated that it sees “no reason
to apply a less demanding standard” to the petition under 2241 “where the factual question was
Santiago’s subjective knowledge.” Id. n. 3.
This clash between the more demanding no-reasonable-juror standard and a less
demanding standard for Rehaif claims under § 2241 is demonstrated by Judge Wood’s dissent.
Judge Wood advocates for a less stringent standard, which allows for petitioners to prevail in a
2241 where petitioners can show that “reliance on the old understanding of the statutory law had
a ‘substantial and injurious effect or influence’ in determining the outcome of the case.” Id. at 713
(Wood, D., dissenting). While Judge Wood would have granted Santiago’s petition under a less
stringent standard, it agreed with the majority “that Santiago has not yet shown quite enough to
satisfy the savings-clause criteria under the ‘no reasonable juror’ standard.” Id. Here, this Court
faced with the demanding no-reasonable-juror standard, agrees that Delgado has not met his
First, Delgado’s initial § 2241 does not argue that “no reasonable juror” would convict him.
Instead, his initial petition argues that “it is entirely plausible than a reasonable juror could have
inferred that he was unaware that he was a convicted felon when he possessed the ammunition.”
(Doc. 10 at 9). As the Government notes, “it is not enough that a reasonable juror could plausibly
acquit Delgado.” (Doc. 30 at 5). The Court’s previous evaluation on whether it was plausible a
juror would have inferred he was aware of his status was the incorrect standard to use based on the
directive from Santiago. It is Delgado’s burden to show that no reasonable juror would convict
him, and it is not the Government’s burden of persuasion. See Santiago, 36 F.4th at 707. Delgado
has not argued “no reasonable juror” would convict him, and therefore does not meet his burden.
This Court previously evaluated the following evidence to show it was plausible a juror
could have inferred he was unaware of his felon status: Delgado conveyed concern during the plea
colloquy regarding the underlying deferred adjudication cases, the records from the state court
which state he may be subject to a felony conviction, and the fact he had not previously served
more than a year in prison for other cases. (Doc. 24 at 11-12). However, this evidence is not enough
to meet the demanding no-reasonable-juror standard.
First, regarding the evidence proffered that the state court documents indicate he would be
subject to ten years imprisonment if judgment was later entered 2, Santiago speaks to a similar
issue. Santiago was arrested for disorderly conduct, revoked on parole and ordered to serve 23month maximum sentence and immediately paroled. Id. at 708. Here, similarly, Delgado, who had
served 240 days in jail (twice as long as Santiago). However, as emphasized by Santiago, all the
Petitioner is charged to know is whether or not his previous crime carried a potential sentence. Just
as Santiago was put “on notice” regarding a prior conviction, his deferred adjudications in
Cameron County for aggravated assault and possession of a controlled substance similarly put him
“on notice” that such convictions carried potential sentences of more than a year in prison.
The Santiago court also evaluated a category of evidence where a jury could be skeptical
of Santiago’s Rehaif claim, such as how the ammunition or gun was found. Specifically, the court
found that his “other actions and intentions at the time [of the offense] are relevant to his state of
mind for the felon-in-possession charges.” Id. at 710 n.5. The court in Santiago found “fairly
The sentencing court stated: “[y]ou are getting a big break, a huge break. You fail to follow these orders and come
back, you are going to prison for 10 years. You behave and do what you are suppose [sic] to like everybody else in
society, you will be fine. You mess up and come back that is it.” Doc. 18-2 at 13.
skeptical” of Santiago’s claim he had a non-criminal state of mind “while he was planning and
carrying out those three armed robberies.” Id. at 710. Here, a jury could be similarly skeptical
where Delgado illegally possessed ammunition during a search of his residence where 52.58 grams
of cocaine, 90 bills of ecstasy, drug paraphernalia, and $12,000 cash. (Presentence Investigation
Report, Doc. 30-1 at ¶ 7). Where the Santiago court found the circumstances relevant to his
criminal state of mind, this Court will as well. Santiago, 36 F.4th at 710. (“Given the common
sense recognized in Greer and Santiago's possession in the course of the armed robberies here, this
is not such a compelling story of an innocent state of mind that any reasonable juror would have
acquitted Santiago on the felon-in-possession counts.”); Greer v. United States, 141 S. Ct. 2090,
2097, 210 L.Ed.2d 121 (2021) (a person who is a felon “ordinarily knows he is a felon,” and “That
simple truth is not lost upon juries.”).
As emphasized by the court in Santiago, the Petitioner must show this Court that no
reasonable juror would find, beyond a reasonable doubt, that he knew his prior convictions was a
crime that carried a potential sentence of more than a year in prison. Unfortunately, Delgado is not
met his burden. This Court reconsiders its previous finding of a “miscarriage of justice” and finds
that Delgado has not met the demanding standard set forth in Santiago. Delgado has not met his
burden that he is “actually innocent” of the felon-in-possession charge under Rehaif and that noreasonable-juror would find him guilty of the offense.
The Court GRANTS the Government’s Motion to Reconsider (Doc. 30) in light of the
recent Seventh Circuit decision in Santiago v. Streeval, 36 F.4th 700 (7th Cir. 2022). The Court
reconsiders its miscarriage of justice determination and finds Delgado has not met his burden of
actual innocence under § 2241.
Accordingly, Delgado’s Petition is summarily DISMISSED with prejudice (Doc. 1).
Having disposed of this case, the Court CANCELS the hearing currently scheduled for September
29, 2022, at 9 a.m.
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 Cir. 2000). If
Petitioner wishes to appeal, he may file a notice of appeal with this Court within 60 days of the
entry of judgment. FED. R. APP. P. 4(a)(1)(B)(iii). A proper and timely motion filed pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) may toll the 60-day appeal deadline. A Rule 59(e) motion
must be filed no more than twenty-eight (28) days after the entry of the judgment, and this 28day deadline cannot be extended.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Dated: September 16, 2022
/s/ J. Phil Gilbert_
J. PHIL GILBERT
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