William v. Sepanek
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER: 1. Calvin William's 28 USC 2241 petition for writ of habeas corpus DE# 1 is DENIED; 2. The Court will enter an appropriate judgment; and 3. This habeas proceeding is DISMISSED and STRICKEN from the Court's docket. Signed by Judge Henry R. Wilhoit, Jr on 2/21/14.(KSS)cc: COR, William (via US Mail)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF KENTUCKY
NORTHERN DIVISION AT ASHLAND
MICHAEL SEPANEK, WARDEN,
Civil Action No. 13-180-HRW
Calvin William is an inmate confined in the Federal Correctional Institution
located in Ashland, Kentucky. William has filed a pro se petition for writ of habeas
corpus pursuant to 28 U .S.C. § 2241, challenging his federal firearm conviction. [D.
E. No.1] William has paid the $5.00 filing fee. [D. E. No.2]
The Court conducts an initial review of habeas corpus petitions. 28 U.S.C.
§ 2243; Alexander v. Northern Bureau o/Prisons, 419 F. App'x 544,545 (6th Cir.
2011). The Court must deny the petition "if it plainly appears from the petition and
any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief." Rule 4 of the Rules
Governing § 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts (applicable to § 2241
petitions under Rule l(b)). The Court evaluates William's petition under a more
lenient standard because he is not represented by an attorney, Erickson v. Pardus, 551
U.S. 89,94 (2007); Burton v. Jones, 321 F.3d 569,573 (6th Cir. 2003), accepts his
factual allegations as true, and construes his legal claims in his favor. Bell Atlantic
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007).
Having reviewed the petition, the Court must deny it because William can not
pursue his claims under 28 U.S.C. § 2241.
On June 7, 2004, a federal jury in Pennsylvania convicted William ofone count
of being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(l) and
§ 924(e). United States v. William, No. 2:03-CR-315-TON-l(E. D. Pa. 2003) On
January 24, 2005, the district court determined that William was an armed career
criminal as defined by 18 U.S.C. § 924(e), the Armed Career Criminal Act
("ACCA"), l and sentenced him to a 15-year prison term, followed by 5 years of
supervised release. [D. E. No. 75, therein] On direct appeal, the Third Circuit
affirmed the conviction. United States v. William, 203 F. App'x. 410 (3d Cir. 2006).
William states that his three prior Pennsylvania state court convictions, which triggered the
enhanced sentencing provisions of § 924( e), consisted oftwo convictions for Possession with Intent
to Deliver a Controlled Substance and one conviction for Robbery. See Petition [D. E. No.1, p. 2].
On January 24, 2008, William filed a motion to vacate his sentence under 28
U.S.C. § 2255 raising several claims of ineffective assistance oftrial counseL United
States v. William, 2:03-CR-315-TON-1(E. D. Pa. 2003) [D. E. No. 85, therein] On
November 29, 2010, the Magistrate Judge issued a lengthy Report and
Recommendati on ("R & R") concluding that all of William's ineffective assistance
of counsel claims lacked merit and that his § 2255 motion should be denied. [D. E..
No. 115, therein] On February 9, 2011, the district court overruled William's
objections to the R & R, adopted the R & R, and denied William's § 2255 motion.
[D. E. No. 119] William appealed, but the Third Circuit denied his request for the
issuance of a certificate of appealability. [D. E. No. 122, therein]; United States v.
William, No. 11-1397 (3d Cir. May 31,2011). On October 11,2011, the United
States Supreme Court denied William's petition for a writ of certiorari. William v.
United States, _
132 S.Ct. 428, 181 L. Ed.2d 278 (2011).
CLAIMS ASSERTED IN § 2241 PETITION
In the instant § 2241 petition, William argues that his sentence is
unconstitutional because the district court, rather than the jury, determined that he had
been convicted ofthe prior offenses which formed the basis ofhis enhanced sentence
under the ACCA.
William further alleges that his prior state court Robbery
conviction does not qualify as violent felony under § 924(e) because the conviction
was for conspiracy to commit robbery, not for the substantive crime of robbery.
Accordingly, William asserts that the district court should have excluded his prior
Robbery conviction from consideration under § 924(e), and should not have
sentenced him beyond the 10-year maximum term of imprisonment established for
violating 19 U.S.C. § 921(g)(1).
William contends that he is thus actually innocent of being an armed career
criminal, and that his enhanced IS-year sentence violates both his Fifth Amendment
right to due process oflaw, and his Sixth Amendment right to have a jury determine
all ofthe factual predicates ofthe charged offense, including any facts which pertain
to an increased sentence. In support ofthis argument, William relies on a June 2013
decision of the United States Supreme Court: Alleyne v. United States, 133 S. Ct.
2151 (2013), which held that "[a]ny fact that, by law, increases the penalty for a crime
is an 'element' that must be submitted to the jury and found beyond a reasonable
doubt." Id. at 2155. William seeks relief from his sentence.
William is not challenging the execution of his sentence, such as the
computation ofsentence credits or parole eligibility, issues which fall under the ambit
of § 2241. United States v. Jalili, 925 F.2d 889, 894 (6th Cir. 1999). Instead,
William challenges the constitutionality of his underlying federal conviction and
sentence on Fifth and Sixth Amendment grounds. But § 2241 is not the mechanism
for asserting such a challenge: 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a) provides the primary avenue of
relief for federal prisoners seeking relief from an unlawful conviction or sentence,
Terrell v. United States, 564 F.3d 442,447 (6th Cir. 2009), and is the mechanism for
collaterally challenging errors that occurred "at or prior to sentencing." Eaves v.
United States, 4:10-CV-36, 2010 WL 3283018, at *6 (E.D. Tenn. Aug. 17,2010).
Section 2255( e) provides a narrow exception to this rule, and permits a prisoner
to challenge the legality of his conviction through a § 2241 petition, where his
remedy under Section 2255 "is inadequate or ineffective" to test the legality of his
detention. A petitioner may use this provision only where, after his conviction has
become final, the Supreme Court re-interprets the terms of the statute the petitioner
was convicted of violating in such a way that his actions did not violate the statute.
Martin v. Perez, 319 F.3d 799, 804 (6th Cir. 2003). See Barnes v. United States, 102
F. App'x 441,443 (6th Cir. 2004) ("A prisoner who can show that an intervening
change in the law establishes his actual innocence can invoke the savings clause of
§ 2255 and proceed under § 2241."); Lott v. Davis, 105 F. App'x 13, 14-15 (6th Cir.
2004). This exception does not apply where the petitioner failed to seize an earlier
opportunity to correct a fundamental defect in his conviction under pre-existing law,
or where he did assert his claim in a prior post-conviction motion under § 2255, but
was denied relief. Charles v. Chandler, 180 F.3d 753, 756 (6th Cir. 1999); United
States v. Prevatte, 300 F.3d 792, 800 (7th Cir. 2002).
A fair reading of the Third Circuit's October 24, 2006, opinion affirming
William's conviction suggests that on direct appeal, William did not raise a claim
challenging the validity of his ACCA-enhanced sentence. 2 At sentencing, William
either knew, or should have known, of the facts supporting his contention that his
prior Robbery conviction did not qualify as a "violent" offense under the ACCA.
William could and should have challenged his ACCA-enhanced sentence on direct
appeal, or, at the very latest, in his § 2255 motion? The failure to raise a specific
claim in a prior § 2255 motion does not mean that the remedy under § 2255 was
inadequate or ineffective. Charles, 180 F.3d at 756.
Alternatively, a prisoner proceeding under § 2241 can use the savings clause
of § 2255 ifhe alleges "actual innocence," Bannerman v. Snyder, 325 F.3d 722, 724
(6th Cir. 2003); Paulino v. United States, 352 F.3d 1056, 1061 (6th Cir. 2003). An
The Third Circuit stated, "On appeal, William argues that the District Court erred in denying
his motion to suppress the gun as evidence obtained in connection with an illegal search." United States
v. William, 203 F. App'x at 411. Thus, it appears that on direct appeal, William did not argue that the
district court had improperly enhanced his sentence under § 924(e).
In his § 2255 motion, William raised several ineffective assistance of counsel claims, but he
did not allege either that the district court improperly sentenced him under the ACCA, or that his counsel
had been ineffective for failing to object to district court's use of his prior Robbery conviction to
enhance his sentence under the ACCA.
actual innocence claim can arise only where, after the prisoner's conviction became
final, the Supreme Court re-interprets the substantive terms of the criminal statute
under which he was convicted in a manner that establishes that his conduct did not
violate the statute. Hayes v. Holland, 473 F. App'x 501,501-02 (6th Cir. 2012) ("To
date, the savings clause has only been applied to claims of actual innocence based
upon Supreme Court decisions announcing new rules of statutory construction
unavailable for attack under section 2255."); Prevatte, 300 F.3d at 800-801; Eiland
v. Rios, No. 7:07-CV-83-GFVT (E.D. Ky. May 3, 2007), affd, No. 07-5735 (6th Cir.
Nov. 28,2007) (same). Actual innocence requires factual innocence, not mere legal
insufficiency. Bousley v. United States, 523 U.S. 614, 623-24 (1998); Wooten v.
Cauley, 677 F.3d 303,307 (6th Cir. 2012)
To make this showing, the movant must allege a new rule of law made
retroactive by a Supreme Court case, such as the claim raised in Bailey v. United
States, 516 U.S. 137 (1995). Townsendv. Davis, 83 F. App'x 728 (6th Cir. 2003);
United States v. Peterman, 249 F .3d. 458, 461 (6th Cir. 2001). William contends that
Alleyne establishes a constitutional right to have all elements of the offense charged
in the indictment and proven beyond a reasonable doubt to the jury; is a new rule of
law which applies retroactively; and affords him relief from his sentence.
However, there is no indication in Alleyne that the Supreme Court made its
holding retroactive to cases on collateral review. This Court has determined that with
respect to a motion filed under § 2255 seeking relief from a sentence, Alleyne does
not apply retroactively. See United States v. Potter, No. 7:03-21-DCR, No. 7:13
7290-DCR, 2013 WL 3967960, at *3 (E. D. Ky. July 31,2013) (concluding that "the
rule announced in Alleyne does not qualify as a watershed rule ofcriminal procedure"
and noting that "[ a] number of other district courts considering the matter have
reached a similar conclusion"). This Court has also consistently held that Alleyne
does not apply retroactively and does not provide a basis for relief under § 2241. See
Meansv. Quintana, No. 5:13-106-DCR, 2013 WL 5707237 at *4 (E.D. Ky. Oct. 21,
2013); Smith v. Holland, No. 13-CV-147-KKC, 2013 WL 4735583, at *4 (E. D. Ky.
Sept. 3, 2013); Parks v. Sepanek, No. 13-CV-I09-HRW, 2013 WL 4648551, at *3
(E.D. Ky. Aug. 29,2013).
At least three other district courts in this circuit have similarly determined that
Alleyne does not apply retroactively to cases on collateral review. See Mingo v.
United States, No. 1:03-CR-203-05; No. 1:13-CV-787, 2013 WL 4499249, at *2
(W.D. Mich., Aug. 19, 2013) (denying § 2255 motion because "The holding in
Alleyne does not qualify as a new 'watershed rule. '''); Bowers v. Coakley, No.4: 13
CV 332,2013 WL 4084104, at *3 (N.D. Ohio August 13,2013) (holding that Alleyne
did not provide relief under § 2241 because it " .. .is not such an intervening change
in the law and does not decriminalize the acts which form the basis of [the
petitioner's] conviction. "); United States v. Ezioiisa, No.3: 1O-CR-039, No.3: 13-CV
236, 2013 WL 3812087, at *3 (S.D. Ohio, July 22, 2013) (holding that because
Alleyne neither places any primary conduct beyond the power ofthe United States to
punish, nor adopts a "watershed" rule, it does not apply retroactively to a motion for
relieffrom sentence filed under § 2255). Based on this authority, the Court is unable
to conclude that Alleyne affords William any retroactive relief.
Further, William does not allege that he is actually innocent ofthe underlying
offense of which he was convicted, i.e., being a felon in possession of a firearm in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). Instead, based on the rule announced in Alleyne,
William contends only that the district court incorrectly determined that he was an
armed career criminal and improperly enhanced his sentence under the ACCA.4 The
Even had William argued on direct appeal that his prior Robbery did not qualify as a predicate
crime ofviolence under §924(e)-- because he was convicted only for Conspiracy to Commit Robbery-
it is unlikely he would have prevailed on the issue. The Third Circuit long ago determined that for
purposes of sentencing enhancement under the ACCA, a defendant's previous conviction of criminal
conspiracy to commit robbery qualified as a "violent felony" under the ACCA. United States v. Preston,
910 F.2d 81, 87 (3rd Cir. 1990) (holding that Preston's 1977 conviction in the Cumberland County Court
of Common Pleas for criminal conspiracy to commit robbery " ...could be used to enhance Preston's
sentence under the Career Criminals Amendment Act.").
Several other circuits, including the Sixth Circuit, have generally reached the same conclusion.
See, e.g., United States v. White, 571 F.3d 365, 370-71 (4th Cir. 2009) (holding that North Carolina
conspiracy is "roughly similar, in kind as well as in degree of risk," to the offenses enumerated under
§ 924(e)); United States v. Goddard, 25 F.3d 1051 (Table), 1994 WL 182188, at *5 (6 th Cir. Mich. May
11, 1994) (holding that conspiracy to commit armed robbery qualified as a predicate offense under the
savings clause, however, may only be applied when the petitioner makes a claim of
actual innocence. Alleyne is a sentencing-error case, and claims of sentencing error
may not serve as the basis for an actual innocence claim under § 2241. See
Bannermanv. Snyder, 325 F.3d 722, 724 (2003); Hayes, 473 F. App'xat 502 ("Hayes
does not assert that he is actually innocent of his federal offenses. Rather, he claims
actual innocence of the career offender enhancement. The savings clause of section
225 5( e) does not apply to sentencing claims"). The savings clause of § 2255 extends
only to petitioners asserting actual innocence claims as to their convictions, not their
enhanced sentences. Jones v. Castillo, 489 F. App'x 864, 866 (6th Cir. 2012);
Mackey v. Berkebile, No. 7:12-CV-10-KSF, 2012 WL 4433316 (E.D. Ky. Sept. 25,
2012), aff'd, No. 12-6202 (6th Cir. March 15,2013) (holding that sentencing error
claims do not qualify as claims of actual innocence under the savings clause).
In summary, because William has not established a claim of actual innocence
based on the Alleyne decision, he is not entitled to proceed under § 2241. The Court
will deny his petition and dismiss this proceeding.
ACCA); United States v. Fiore, 983 F.2d 1, 3 (1st Cir. 1992) (holding that prior convictions for
conspiracy can qualify as predicate offenses under the career offender provisions of the federal
Sentencing Guidelines); but see United States v. Gore, 636 F.3d 728, 745 (5th Cir. 2011)
(Higginbotham, J. concurring and observing "the generic, contemporary definition of a criminal
conspiracy includes a requirement that at least one of the conspirators take an overt act in furtherance
of the agreement").
Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that:
Calvin William's 28 U.S.C. § 2241 petition for a writ of habeas corpus
[D. E. No.1] is DENIED;
The Court will enter an appropriate judgment; and
This habeas proceeding is DISMISSED and STRICKEN from the
This February 21, 2014.
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?