Harris v. Snyder-Norris
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER: 1. Harris' petition for a writ of habeas corpus R 1 is DENIED. 2. The Court will enter a judgment contemporaneously with this order. 3. This matter is DISMISSED and STRICKEN from the docket. Signed by Judge Henry R. Wilhoit, Jr on 9/26/17.(KSS)cc: COR via US Mail
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF KENTUCKY
NORTHERN DIVISION at ASHLAND
Civil No. 0: 16-121-HRW
J. SNYDER-NORRIS, Warden,
*** *** *** ***
Federal inmate Shaun Harris, through counsel, has filed a petition for a writ
of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. [D. E. No. 1] This matter is before
the Court to conduct an initial screening of Harris's petition. 28 U.S.C. § 2243;
Alexander v. Northern Bureau ofPrisons, 419 F. App'x 544, 545 (6th Cir. 2011).
Following a two-week trial, in May 2001 Harris was convicted in Elkton,
West Virginia of numerous federal drug charges for his participation in a largescale drug trafficking ring. In light of his numerous prior criminal convictions, the
trial court concluded that Harris was a career offender within the meaning of
U.S.S.G. § 4Bl.l. This raised his offense level to 37, establishing a guidelines
range of 360 months to life imprisonment. The trial court imposed a 360-month
sentence. United States v. Harris, No. 2: OO-CR-7-14 (N.D. W. Va. 2000). The
Fourth Circuit affirmed both his convictions and the enhancement of his sentence
on direct appeal. United States v. Harris, 45 F. App'x 302 (4th Cir. 2002). The
trial court denied several motions for relief from his convictions and sentence. 1
Harris filed his petition in this matter in June 2016 in the district where he
was sentenced, apparently (and paradoxically) arguing that he could not file his
petition in the district of his incarceration because his remedy under 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255 was not "inadequate and ineffective" for purposes of§ 2255(e) but was so
for purposes of § 2255(h).
[D. E. No. 1 at 1-2] The trial court, unconvinced,
promptly transferred the petition to this Court, which encompasses the district
where Harris was confined. [D. E. No. 2] To date, counsel has failed to comply
with this Court's direction to seek admission to this Court pro hac vice. [D. E. No.
In 2015, the Supreme Court concluded that the residual clause found in 18
U.S.C. § 924(e)(2)(B) was void for vagueness. Johnson v. United States,_ U.S.
_, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015). That subsection provided a catch-all definition for
various kinds of prior offenses which could be used to enhance a sentence as an
"armed career criminal" for one convicted of being a felon in possession of a
On January 19, 2017, President Barack Obama commuted Harris's sentence to
expire on May 19, 2017, and Harris has been released from BOP custody during
the pendency of this petition. However, he remains subject to a five-year term of
supervised release, and hence is "in custody" to test the legality of his detention.
Jones v. Cunningham, 371 U.S. 236, 243 (1963).
firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g).
Harris was not convicted under
§ 922(g) nor was his sentence enhanced pursuant to § 924(e)(l).
nonetheless argues in his petition that Johnson rendered the similarly-worded
career offender provision that was used to enhance his sentence, U.S.S.G. § 4Bl.l,
unconstitutional. 2 [D. E. No. 1at4-5, 7-12]
Harris may not pursue this claim in a § 2241 petition.
As he readily
acknowledges in his petition, the Supreme Court held that Johnson announced a
new rule of constitutional law, and hence is retroactively applicable to cases on
Welch v. United States,
U.S._, 136 S. Ct. 1257 (2016).
Precisely for that reason, inmates wishing to invoke Johnson as grounds to
challenge their conviction could do so by requesting and obtaining pennission to
file a second or successive motion under§ 2255. See § 2255(h)(2); In re Watkins,
810 F. 3d 375, 377 (6th Cir. 2015). Because Harris and other prisoners could
assert claims based upon Johnson under § 2255, that remedy is plainly not
structurally "inadequate and ineffective" to test the legality of their detention, and
The Supreme Court has rejected the argument that the career offender provision
found in the sentencing guidelines is susceptible to a vagueness challenge, Beckles
v. United States, _ U.S. _, 137 S. Ct. 886 (2017), but that decision appears
limited to sentences imposed after its decision in United States v. Booker, 543 U.S.
220 (2005) rendered the guidelines advisory rather than mandatory. Beckles, 137
S. Ct. 899-901. Because Harris was sentenced in 2002 before Booker was decided,
Beckles does not necessarily foreclose the substance of his claim.
resort to§ 2241 is impermissible. Truss v. Davis, 115 F. App'x 772, 773-74 (6th
Cir. 2004); McDowell v. Warden, FCC Medium Coleman, 2017 WL 2352000, at
*2-3 (I Ith Cir. May 31, 2017).
Accordingly, it is ORDERED as follows:
Harris's petition for a writ of habeas corpus [R. I] is DENIED.
The Court will enter a judgment contemporaneously with this order.
This matter is DISMISSED and STRICKEN from the docket.
This 26th day of September, 2017.
"' HenrY R. Wilhoit. Jr.
United Stale• District Judge
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