Castillo v. Hollingsworth et al
OPINION. Signed by Judge Noel L. Hillman on 8/18/2016. (tf, n.m.)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
Hon. Noel L. Hillman
Civil No. 14-6455 (NLH)
JESUS RAMIREZ-CASTILLO, #07189-041
FCI Fort Dix
P.O. Box 2000
Fort Dix, NJ 08640
Petitioner Pro Se
CAROLINE A. SADLOWSKI, Assistant U.S. Attorney
PAUL J. FISHMAN, United States Attorney
970 Broad Street, Suite 700
Newark, NJ 07102
Attorneys for Respondent
HILLMAN, District Judge
Jesus Ramirez-Castillo filed a Petition for a Writ of
Habeas Corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 challenging his 322-month
federal sentence imposed on November 19, 1996, in United States
v. Ramirez-Castillo, 129 F.3d 122 (8th Cir. 1997)(per curiam).
Having thoroughly reviewed the Petition, attachments, and the
docket in the underlying criminal proceeding, this Court will
summarily dismiss the Petition for lack of jurisdiction under 28
U.S.C. § 2241.
Federal officials arrested Petitioner in January 1996.
February 1996 a grand jury sitting in the United States District
Court for the District of Minnesota returned an indictment
charging him with drug offenses.
On June 20, 1996, a jury found
him guilty of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent
to distribute cocaine, distribution of cocaine, possession of
cocaine with intent to distribute, carrying a firearm during a
drug trafficking crime, and being a felon in possession of a
On November 19, 1996, Judge James M. Rosenbaum
sentenced Petitioner as a career offender, see U.S.S.G. §
4A1.1(a), to a 322-month term of imprisonment.
appealed, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence, the
admissibility of evidence, and the plain error instruction.
October 30, 1997, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed
the conviction and sentence.
See United States v. Ramirez-
Castillo, 129 F.3d 122 (8th Cir. 1997)(per curiam).
In November 1997, Petitioner filed a motion to vacate the
sentence, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, arguing that his
attorney provided ineffective representation for failing to
object to a jury instruction and advising him not to plead
See United States v. Ramirez-Castillo, 2007 WL 4591928
(D. Minn. Dec. 28, 2007).
Judge Rosenbaum denied the motion on
July 31, 1998, and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals denied a
certificate of appealability on April 22, 1999.
In 2007, Petitioner filed a motion arguing that the
District Court lacked jurisdiction because no one advised him of
his right under Articles 5 and 36 of the Vienna Convention on
Consular Relations to contact the Dominican Republic’s Consul
prior to trial and sentencing.
motion on December 28, 2007.
Judge Rosenbaum denied the
See United States v. Ramirez-
Castillo, 2007 WL 4591928 (D. Minn. Dec. 28, 2007).
2010, Petitioner filed a motion for reduction of sentence
pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2).
motion on March 29, 2010.
Judge Rosenbaum denied the
Petitioner appealed and on May 3,
2010, the Eighth Circuit affirmed.
On August 19, 2014, Petitioner filed (under the mailbox
rule) the instant Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus under 28
U.S.C. § 2241 in the United States District Court for the
District of Minnesota.
Petitioner asserts that Judge Rosenbaum
unconstitutionally and erroneously sentenced him as a career
offender because his prior state drug convictions do not qualify
as two prior felony convictions under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1(a). (ECF
No. 1 at 1, 8.)
Petitioner attached the following documents to
his Petition: (1) Memorandum of Law; (2) New Jersey judgment of
conviction imposing a five-year term of imprisonment against
Petitioner for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute,
conspiracy, distribution of cocaine, and distribution of a
controlled dangerous substance within 1,000 feet of a school,
see State v. Ramirez, Acc. No. 1749-9-91 judgment (N.J. Super.
Ct., Law Div., Oct. 11, 1991)(ECF No. 2-1 at 2-3); (3) 17 pages
of the Presentence Investigation Report prepared by U.S.
Probation Officer Kelley M. Gustaveson in United States v.
Ramirez-Castillo, Crim. No. 96-0012-ADM-FLN-1 (D. Minn. filed
Feb. 7, 1996)(ECF No. 2-1 at 5-21); and (4) the docket for
United States v. Ramirez-Castillo.
On October 16, 2014, Judge David S. Doty transferred the §
2241 Petition to this Court on the grounds that Petitioner was
incarcerated at FCI Fort Dix in New Jersey when he filed the
Petition and this Court has jurisdiction over Petitioner’s
See Rumsfeld v. Padilla, 542 U.S. 426 (2004).
Under 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c), habeas jurisdiction “shall not
extend to a prisoner unless . . . [h]e is in custody in
violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United
States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3).
A federal court has subject
matter jurisdiction under § 2241(c)(3) if two requirements are
satisfied: (1) the petitioner is “in custody” and (2) the
custody is “in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties
of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3); Maleng v. Cook,
490 U.S. 488, 490 (1989).
Nevertheless, a challenge to the validity of a federal
conviction or sentence must generally be brought under 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255. See Davis v. United States, 417 U.S. 333 (1974); United
States v. Tyler, 732 F.3d 241, 246 (3d Cir. 2013); Okereke v.
United States, 307 F.3d 117, 120 (3d Cir. 2002).
because 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e), known as § 2255’s “safety valve,”
expressly prohibits a district court from entertaining a
challenge to a prisoner’s federal sentence under § 2241 unless
the remedy by motion under § 2255 is “inadequate or ineffective
to test the legality of his detention.” See 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e)
(“An application for a writ of habeas corpus in behalf of a
prisoner who is authorized to apply for relief by motion
pursuant to this section, shall not be entertained . . . unless
. . . the remedy by motion is inadequate or ineffective to test
the legality of his detention”); see also Tyler, 732 F.3d at
246; Cradle v. U.S. ex rel. Miner, 290 F.3d 536 (3d Cir. 2002);
In re Dorsainvil, 119 F.3d 245, 251 (3d Cir. 1997); Millan-Diaz
v. Parker, 444 F.2d 95 (3d Cir. 1971); Application of Galante,
437 F.2d 1164 (3d Cir. 1971) (per curiam); United States ex rel.
Leguillou v. Davis, 212 F.2d 681, 684 (3d Cir. 1954).
Section 2255 is “not inadequate or ineffective merely
because the sentencing court does not grant relief, the one-year
statute of limitations has expired, or the petitioner is unable
to meet the stringent gatekeeping requirements of . . . § 2255.”
Cradle, 290 F.3d at 539.
Rather, “a § 2255 petition is
‘inadequate’ when a petitioner asserts a claim of ‘actual
innocence’ on the theory that ‘he is being detained for conduct
that has subsequently been rendered non-criminal by an
intervening Supreme Court decision’ and [the Third Circuit’s]
precedent construing an intervening Supreme Court decision, but
is otherwise barred from challenging the legality of the
conviction under § 2255.”
Tyler, 732 F.3d at 246 (quoting
Dorsainvil, 119 F.3d at 252).1
For example, in Dorsainvil, the Third Circuit held that §
2255 was inadequate or ineffective for Dorsainvil’s claim that
he was imprisoned for conduct that the Supreme Court ruled in
Bailey v. United States, 516 U.S. 137 (1995), was not a crime,
where the Supreme Court issued Bailey after Dorsainvil’s § 2255
motion was denied on the merits, and after the Third Circuit
See also Okereke, 307 F.3d at 120 (noting that a § 2255 motion
is inadequate or ineffective within § 2255(e), authorizing
resort to § 2241, only where the petitioner demonstrates that he
“had no prior opportunity to challenge his conviction for a
crime that an intervening change in substantive law could negate
with retroactive application.”).
determined that Dorsainvil could not meet either of the
gatekeeping requirements under 28 U.S.C. § 2255(h) to authorize
the filing of a second or successive § 2255 motion.
Circuit reasoned that “[a] Supreme Court decision interpreting a
criminal statute that resulted in the imprisonment of one whose
conduct was not prohibited by law presents exceptional
circumstances where the need for the remedy afforded by the writ
of habeas corpus is apparent.”
Dorsainvil, 119 F. 3d at 250.
Most recently, in Tyler the Third Circuit held that § 2255
was inadequate or ineffective for Tyler’s claim that the conduct
for which he was convicted in 2000 - tampering with a witness
involved in official proceeding (by murder), contrary to 18
U.S.C. § 1512(a)(1)(A), (b)(1), and (b)(2) - was non-criminal
based on the Supreme Court’s 2005 decision in Arthur Andersen
LLP v. United States, 544 U.S. 696 (2005), which required the
Government to prove a nexus between the defendant’s conduct and
a particular federal proceeding.
The Third Circuit held that
the District Court had jurisdiction to entertain Tyler’s claim
under § 2241 that he was actually innocent because there was “no
evidence to satisfy Arthur Andersen’s requirement that the
Government prove a nexus between Tyler’s conduct and a
foreseeable particular federal proceeding to establish a
conviction under § 1512(a)(1)(A), (b)(1), and (b)(2).” Tyler,
732 F.3d at 250-51.
In this case, Petitioner asserts that Judge Rosenbaum found
that he was a career offender under U.S.S.G. § 4A1.1(a)2 based on
two New Jersey drug convictions resulting from arrests on June
10, 1989, and April 29, 1991.3
The New Jersey judgment of
conviction, dated October 11, 1991, imposes an aggregate fiveyear term of imprisonment for drug crimes relating to both
arrests. (ECF No. 2-1 at 2-3.)
Petitioner argues that he is
actually innocent of being a career offender under U.S.S.G. §
4B1.1(a) because he “received only one oral pronounced sentence
for his two prior felon[y] conviction[s].” (ECF No. 2 at 14.)
Specifically, he argues: “Section 4B1.2(c)’s plain language
The U.S. Sentencing Commission 1995 Guidelines Manual provides:
A defendant is a career offender if (1) the defendant
was at least eighteen years old at the time of the
instant offense, (2) the instant offense of conviction
is a felony that is either a crime of violence or a
controlled substance offense, and (3) the defendant
has at least two prior felony convictions of either a
crime of violence or a controlled substance offense.
U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1(a) (1995).
The Presentence Investigation Report concluded that Petitioner
was a career offender under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1 because on October
11, 1991, he was convicted of several drug crimes. “Even though
both dispositions were entered on the same date, these are not
related cases as the arrest dates are approximately 2 years
apart.” (ECF No. 2-1 at 16.)
required that a defendant could only be sentenced as a career
offender if he received ‘sentences for at least two’ prior
However, Mr. Ramirez-Castillo received only one oral
pronounced sentence for his two prior felonies[.]”4 (ECF No. 2 at
14)(emphasis in original).
Petitioner’s claim – he is not a career offender under
U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1 because he was sentenced at the same time for
drug offenses that he committed two years apart - is within the
scope of claims cognizable under § 2255.
Court lacks jurisdiction to entertain his claim under § 2241
unless Petitioner shows that § 2255 is an inadequate or
ineffective remedy for the claim. See 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e).
Section 2255 is not inadequate or ineffective for this claim,
however, because Petitioner does not contend that, as a result
of a Supreme Court ruling subsequent to his § 2255 motion, the
conduct for which he was federally convicted – drug trafficking
and carrying a firearm in connection with drug trafficking –
“The term ‘two prior felony convictions’ means (A) the
defendant committed the instant offense subsequent to sustaining
at least two felony convictions of either a crime of violence or
a controlled substance offense . . , and (B) the sentences for
at least two of the aforementioned felony convictions are
counted separately under the provisions of 4A1.1(a), (b), or
(c). The date that a defendant sustained a conviction shall be
the date that the guilt of the defendant has been established,
whether by guilty plea, trial, or plea of nolo contendere.”
U.S.S.G. § 4B1.2(3) (1995).
became non-criminal. See Tyler, 732 F.3d at 246; Okereke, 307
F.3d at 120; Dorsainvil, 119 F. 3d at 250.
Court lacks jurisdiction to entertain Petitioner’s challenge to
his career offender status under § 2241.
This Court will
dismiss the Petition because Petitioner has not shown that §
2255 is an inadequate or ineffective remedy for his challenge to
his sentence. See Abduchakeem v. Warden Fairton FCI, 2016 WL
3947576 (3d Cir. July 22, 2016); Avery v. Warden Loretto FCI,
2016 WL 3542257 (3d Cir. June 29, 2016).
Petitioner has not shown that 28 U.S.C. § 2255 is
inadequate or ineffective for his challenge to his career
offender status sentence.
This Court will dismiss the Petition
for lack of jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 2241.
Order accompanies this Opinion.
s/Noel L. Hillman
NOEL L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.
August 18, 2016
At Camden, New Jersey
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