Lynn v. Spaulding
MEMORANDUM (Order to follow as separate docket entry). Signed by Honorable Yvette Kane on 7/18/17. (rw)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
On June 13, 2017, the Court received and filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus
submitted pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 from pro se Petitioner Mark Lynn, a federal inmate
presently confined at the Allenwood Federal Correctional Institute in White Deer, Pennsylvania.
(Doc. No. 1.)
Petitioner challenges the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia’s
resentencing Order of September 10, 2010, in which the Court sentenced Petitioner to a term of
360 months of imprisonment upon finding that he qualified under the career offender guidelines,
U.S.S.G. 4B1.1 and 4B1.2 because he had at least two qualifying prior convictions that
supported the career offender enhancement. (Id.) Citing Mathis v. United States, 136 S. Ct.
2243 (2016), and Holt v. United States, 843 F.3d 720 (7th Cir. 2016), Petitioner argues that he
was improperly given an enhanced sentence under the Sentencing Guidelines because his prior
New York conviction of attempted second degree robbery is not a crime of violence. (Id.)
A review of the petition, as well as PACER, the online national index providing public
access to court electronic records, reveals that Petitioner previously filed a motion to vacate, set
aside, and correct sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 in the District Court for Eastern District
of Virginia. It appears that Petitioner now seeks habeas relief in this Court pursuant to the
“savings clause” of § 2255.
The petition will be given preliminary consideration pursuant to Rule 4 of the Rules
Governing § 2254 Cases, 28 U.S.C. foll. § 2254, as made applicable to § 2241 cases by Rule 1
thereof.1 For the reasons set forth below, the petition will be dismissed summarily.
It is well settled that a federal criminal defendant’s conviction and sentence are subject to
collateral attack in a proceeding before the sentencing court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. See,
e.g., United States v. Addonizio, 442 U.S. 178, 179 (1979). Indeed, to challenge the validity of a
sentence, a federal prisoner must file a § 2255 motion in the sentencing court, “a court already
familiar with the facts of the case.” See Boumediene v. Bush, 553 U.S. 723, 774–75 (2008); see
also Swain v. Pressley, 430 U.S. 372, 378 (1977) (“[Section] 2255 created a new postconviction
remedy in the sentencing court and provided that a habeas corpus petition may not be entertained
elsewhere.”); Brown v. Mendez, 167 F. Supp. 2d 723, 726 (M.D. Pa. 2001) (“As a general rule, a
§ 2255 motion ‘supersedes habeas corpus and provides the exclusive remedy’ to one in custody
pursuant to a federal court conviction.”) (quoting Strollo v. Alldredge, 463 F.2d 1194, 1195 (3d
Cir. 1972) (per curiam)).
Conversely, a federal prisoner may challenge the execution of his sentence, such as a
claim concerning the denial or revocation of parole, or the loss of good-time credits, by filing a §
2241 petition in the district court for the federal judicial district where the prisoner is in custody.
Rule 4 states in pertinent part that “[t]he clerk must promptly forward the petition to judge
under the court’s assignment procedure, and the judge must promptly examine it. If it plainly
appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in
the district court, the judge must dismiss the petition . . . .”
See 28 U.S.C. § 2241(a); Rumsfeld v. Padilla, 542 U.S. 426, 443–44 (2004); Coady v. Vaughn,
251 F.3d 480, 485 (3d Cir. 2001).
However, if the petitioner shows “that a § 2255 motion ‘is inadequate or ineffective to
test the legality of his detention,’ . . . [he may] resort to § 2241 to challenge the validity of the
conviction or sentence.” Brown, 167 F. Supp. 2d at 726; see also 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e); Litterio v.
Parker, 369 F.2d 395, 395 (3d Cir. 1966) (per curiam) (“It is firmly established that the remedy
available to a federal prisoner under 2255 is exclusive in the absence of a showing that such
remedy ‘is inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of [the prisoner’s] detention.’”). This
“safety valve” provision is strictly enforced, and has been held to apply where a petitioner asserts
a claim of actual innocence grounded on a theory that he has been detained for conduct
subsequently decriminalized due to an intervening and retroactive change in law and where the
petitioner “[has] had no prior opportunity to challenge his conviction and c[an] not satisfy the
stringent standard for filing a second or successive § 2255 motion.” Long v. Fairton, 611 F.
App'x 53, 55 (3d Cir. 2015) (citations omitted); United States v. Tyler, 732 F.3d 241, 246 (3d
Cir. 2013); In re Dorsainvil, 119 F.3d 245, 251–52 (3d Cir. 1997)). The burden is on the habeas
petitioner to demonstrate inadequacy or ineffectiveness. See In re Dorsainvil, 119 F.3d at 25152.
“Critically, § 2255 is not inadequate or ineffective merely because the petitioner cannot
satisfy § 2255's timeliness or other gatekeeping requirements.” Long, 611 F. App'x at 55; see
Tripati v. Henman, 843 F.2d 1160, 1162 (9th Cir. 1988), cert. denied, 488 U.S. 982 (1988);
Cradle v. United States, 290 F.3d 536, 538 (3d Cir. 2002) (“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 the amended § 2255.”). “It is the inefficacy of the remedy, not a personal inability to utilize it,
that is determinative . . . .” Garris v. Lindsay, 794 F.2d 722, 727 (D.C. Cir. 1986), cert. denied,
479 U.S. 993 (1986).
Here, Petitioner challenges the imposition of his sentence, not its execution. Therefore,
to proceed under § 2241, he must demonstrate that a § 2255 motion “is inadequate or ineffective
to test the legality of his detention.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e). Petitioner has not met this burden, as
he has not established the inefficacy of a second or successive § 2255 motion in challenging his
sentencing enhancement. See Parker v. Warden FCI-Schuylkill, No. 3:CV-17-765, 2017 WL
2445334, at *3 (M.D. Pa. June 6, 2017) (“P[etitioner] has also not shown that he was unable to
present his claims in a successive § 2255 proceeding . . . . [Additionally], challenges to career
offender status are not properly raised under § 2241.”). Specifically, Petitioner makes “no
allegation that he is actually innocent of the . . . crime for which he was convicted; he asserts
only that his sentence was improper.” Mikell v. Recktenwald, 545 F. App'x 82, 84 (3d Cir.
2013). 2 Petitioner’s issues with his sentencing, however, do “not make § 2255 inadequate or
ineffective.” Gardner v. Warden Lewisburg USP, 845 F.3d 99, 103 (3d Cir. 2017) (citing
Okereke, 307 F.3d at 120-21). As Petitioner has not adequately demonstrated that § 2255 is an
inadequate or ineffective mechanism through which to test the legality of Petitioner's sentencing
enhancement, his § 2241 petition will be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction without prejudice to
any right he may have to obtain pre-authorization from the appropriate United States Court of
Appeals before filing a second or subsequent § 2255 motion in the sentencing court.
Petitioner attempts to rely on Mathis, ostensibly for the proposition that his prior New York
conviction for attempted robbery no longer qualifies as a crime of violence predicate offense for
enhancing his sentence as a career offender under the United States Sentencing Guidelines §
4B.1. Notably, however, Mathis has not been deemed retroactive on collateral review. Holt v.
United States, 843 F.3d 720, 722 (7th Cir. 2016) (“Mathis has not been declared retroactive by
the Supreme Court – nor is it a new rule of constitutional law.”).
Based on the foregoing, the petition (Doc. No. 1), will be DISMISSED WITHOUT
PREJUDICE to the Petitioner’s right to file a § 2255 motion in the sentencing court, subject to
the pre-authorization requirements of 28 U.S.C. §§ 2244 and 2255(h), as they may apply.
Because Petitioner is not detained by virtue of a process issued by a state court and the petition is
not brought pursuant to § 2255, no action by this Court with respect to a certificate of
appealability is necessary.
An appropriate Order follows.
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