Patterson v. United States of America
MEMORANDUM (Order to follow as separate docket entry) re 1 Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed by Victor Raynard Patterson. Signed by Honorable A. Richard Caputo on 6/9/17. (jam)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
VICTOR RAYNARD PATTERSON,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
CIVIL NO. 3:CV-15-0098
Petitioner, Victor Raynard Patterson, a federal inmate formerly housed at the
Allenwood Low Federal Correctional Institution in White Deer, Pennsylvania, filed this
pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Mr. Patterson
claims that, in light of the holding in Johnson v. United States,
, 135 S.Ct.
2551, 192 L.Ed.2d 569 (2015)1 which declared the residual clause of the Armed Career
Criminal Act (ACCA) unconstitutionally vague, his present sentence must be vacated.2
(ECF No. 1).
We note that in Welch v. United States,
, 136 S.Ct. 1257, 194
L.Ed.2d 387 (2016), the Supreme Court held that Johnson applies retroactively to cases on
The Armed Career Criminal Act provides for a 15-year mandatory minimum
sentence for certain defendants who have three or more prior convictions for a serious drug
offense or a violent felony. See 18 U.S.C. § 924(e).
Because Mr. Patterson’s Petition raises claims more appropriately addressed
under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, not Section 2241, this Court does not have jurisdiction to
address the Petition. However, in the interest of justice given Mr. Patterson’s Johnson
claim, this matter will be transferred to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third
Circuit for treatment as a motion to file a successive § 2255 motion.
On August 23, 2006, Mr. Patterson was indicted on a single count of being an
armed career criminal in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1)
and § 924(e). See United States v. Patterson, 1:06-cr-00289-CCC-1 (M.D. Pa.);3 and
United States v. Patterson, Crim. No. 1:06-CR-00289, 2010 WL 2853565 (M.D. Pa. Jul.
20, 2010). The following prior convictions were noted in the Indictment:
1. Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon, April
1,1994, United States District Court for the Middle District
of Pennsylvania, Docket Number 1:93-CR-00218;
2. Delivery of a Controlled Substance, April 11, 1994,
Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas, Docket Number
953 CD 93;
3. Delivery of a Controlled Substance, January 18, 1989,
Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas, Docket Number
2125 DC 1988; and
The Court takes judicial notice of the docket in Mr. Patterson’s criminal
proceedings. See United States v. Patterson, 1:06-cr-00289 (M.D. Pa.) which is viewable
via the federal judiciary’s Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) Service at
4. Delivery of a Controlled Substance, July 9, 1986,
Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas, Docket Number
621 CD 1986.
See Patterson, 1:06-cr-00289-CCC-1 (M.D. Pa.), ECF No. 1, Indictment. On March 29,
2007, Mr. Patterson plead guilty to the sole count in the indictment. Patterson, 2010
WL 2853565 at *1. In doing so, the Government and Mr. Patterson entered into a plea
agreement that specified the minimum mandatory sentence for his offense was 15
years and the maximum possible sentence was life imprisonment plus fines and costs.
Patterson, 1:06-cr-00289-CCC-1 (M.D. Pa.), ECF No. 23, ECF pp. 1 - 3, Plea
On August 6, 2007, Mr. Patterson was sentenced to a term of 180-months’
incarceration. (Id.; see also Patterson, 1:06-cr-00289-CCC-1 (M.D. Pa.), ECF No. 37,
Judgment.) Mr. Patterson appealed his conviction and sentence to the United States
Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit arguing that his felony drug convictions from 1986
and 1989 were too remote for sentencing enhancement purposes under 18 U.S.C. §
924(e). On December 12, 2008, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed his
judgment of sentencing noting that “[n]othing in the statute establishes a time limit for
the consideration of convictions for the purposes of imposing the fifteen-year minimum
sentence” under section 924(e). United States v. Patterson, 302 F. App’x 79, 81 (3d
On December 3, 2009, Mr. Patterson filed a 28 U.S.C. § 2255 motion to vacate,
set aside or correct his sentence. See Patterson, 1:06-cr-00289-CCC-1 (M.D. Pa.),
ECF No. 49, Mot. to Vacate, set Aside, or Correct Sentence; see also Patterson, 2010
WL 2853565, at * 1. He withdrew his initial § 2255 motion and filed an amended
petition on March 30, 2010 based on his counsel’s inef fectiveness for failing to move
to suppress evidence collected from the search of his home. See Patterson, 1:06-cr00289-CCC-1 (M.D. Pa.), ECF No. 60, Amended § 2255 Mot.; see also Patterson, 2010
WL 2853565, at * 1. In his § 2255 petition, Mr. Patterson did not argue that any of his
state drug convictions did not constitute “serious drug offenses” for enhancement
purposes under the ACCA. On July 20, 2010, the sentencing court denied the motion
and denied issuance of a certificate of appealability. (Id.; see also Patterson, 1:06-cr00289-CCC-1 (M.D. Pa.), ECF No. 63.)
On January 15, 2015. Mr. Patterson filed the instant petition for a writ of habeas
corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 arguing that in light of the United States Supreme
Court’s ruling in Johnson, his sentence was improperly enhanced under the ACCA.
(ECF No. 1, Pet.) On March 11, 2015, the Government filed a Response to the Petition
suggesting it be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. (ECF No. 5.)
Legal Standards Applicable to Section 2241
As a general rule, a federal prisoner may challenge his conviction or sentence
only by means of a motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 brought before the sentencing
court, and this remedy typically supersedes the writ of habeas corpus. See Okereke
v. United States, 307 F.3d 117, 120 (3d Cir. 2002) (a motion filed pursuant to § 2255
is the presumptive means for challenging a federal conviction); In re Dorsainvil, 119
F.3d 245, 249 (3d Cir. 1997). Prisoners who have already filed a § 2255 motion, may
file a “second or successive motion” provided that “a panel of the appropriate court of
appeals” has certified that the motion contains “newly discovered evidence that, if
proven and viewed in light of the evidence as a whole, would be sufficient to establish
by clear and convincing evidence that no reasonable factfinder would have found the
movant guilty of the offense” or “a new rule of constitutional law, made retroactive to
cases on collateral review by the Supreme Court, that was previously unavailable.” 28
U.S.C. § 2255(h).
Thus, with limited exceptions, a habeas corpus petition challenging a prisoner’s
conviction or sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 may not be entertained unless a
§ 2255 motion would be “inadequate or ineffective” to test the legality of the petitioner’s
detention. See 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e); Gardner v. Warden Lewisburg USP, 845 F.3d 99,
102 (3d Cir. 2017). In considering what it means to be “inadequate or ineffective,” the
Third Circuit has stated that a federal prisoner should be permitted to seek relief under
§ 2241 “only where the petitioner demonstrates that some limitation or procedure would
prevent a § 2255 proceeding from affording him a full hearing and adjudication of his
wrongful detention claim.” Cradle v. United States, 290 F.3d 536, 538 (3d Cir. 2002)
(citations omitted). Such situations are rare. The Third Circuit has applied this “safety
valve” only where a prisoner is in the unusual position of having no earlier opportunity
to challenge his conviction or “is being detained on conduct that has subsequently been
rendered non-criminal by an intervening Supreme Court decision.” See Okereke, 307
F.3d at 120 (citing Dorsainvil, 119 F.3d at 251-52).
“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 (citations omitted). “It is the inefficacy of the remedy, not the
personal inability to use it, that is determinative.” Id. at 538 (citation omitted). Section
2255(e), the safety-valve clause, “exists to ensure that petitioners have a fair
opportunity to seek collateral relief, not to enable them to evade procedural
requirements.” Id. at 539.
It is clear that Mr. Patterson is challenging the validity of his August 6, 2007,
sentence imposed by this district under the ACCA based on recent Supreme Court law
made retroactive to cases on collateral appeal. Thus, he must raise such a challenge
in the sentencing court under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 unless he demonstrates that the
remedy under § 2255 is “inadequate or ineffective.” See 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e).
Petitioner does not allege facts to bring him within the Dorsainvil exception. He
does not allege that he had no earlier opportunity to challenge his conviction for a crime
than an intervening change in substantial law may negate. Rather, Mr. Patterson’s
claim is focused on the alleged impropriety of his sentence, not the offense for which
he was convicted. The Court therefore lacks jurisdiction to consider his Petition. See
Scott v. Shartle, 574 F. App’x 152, 155 (3d Cir. 2014) (nonprecedential) (“[B]ecause
[petitioner] is challenging his career offender designation and is not claiming that he is
now innocent of the predicate offense, he does not fall within the ‘safety valve’
exception created in In re Dorsainvil and cannot proceed under § 2241.”). Welch made
Johnson retroactive to cases on collateral review, but as noted by the Third Circuit
Court of Appeals, “§ 2241 is not available for an intervening change in the sentencing
laws.” Pearson v. Warden Canaan USP,
, 2017 WL 1363873,
at *2 (3d Cir. 2017) (nonprecedential) (citing Okereke, 307 F.3d at 120 - 21). Thus, Mr.
Patterson’s appropriate recourse is to pursue his Johnson claim by requesting
permission from the Third Circuit Court of Appeals to file a second or successive §
2255 motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(3).
Accordingly, this Court does not have jurisdiction to address this matter.
However, in light of Mr. Patterson’s Johnson claim, and in the interest of justice, the
Court will transfer this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1631 to the United States Court of
Appeals the Third Circuit for treatment as a motion to file a successive § 2255 motion.
See Robinson v. Johnson, 313 F.3d 128, 139 (3d Cir. 2002) (“When a second or
successive habeas petition is erroneously filed in a district court with the permission of
a court of appeals, the district court’s only option is to dismiss the petition or transfer
it to the court of appeals pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1631.”); see also Wood v. Maiorana,
Civ. No. 3:CV-15-1409, 2015 W L 4663267 (M.D. Pa. Aug. 6, 2015) (Caputo, J.).
An appropriate order follows.
/s/ A. Richard Caputo
A. RICHARD CAPUTO
United States District Judge
Date: June 9, 2017
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