Nolan v. United States Of America
MEMORANDUM (Order to follow as separate docket entry).Signed by Honorable A. Richard Caputo on 3/13/18. (dw)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Presently before me is Magistrate Judge William I. Arbuckle’s Report and
Recommendation (Doc. 5) to Petitioner Aldridge Nolan’s (“Nolan”) Petition for Writ
of Habeas Corpus filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. (Doc. 1.) Nolan contends that
he is entitled to habeas relief under § 2241 because a § 2255 motion “is inadequate or
ineffective to test the legality of his detention.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e). The Magistrate
Judge concluded that Nolan must pursue his claim for relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255,
and therefore recommends that Nolan’s Petition be denied. Nolan filed timely
objections to the Report and Recommendation. (Doc. 6.) Because Nolan’s claim does
not fall within the savings clause of 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e), the Report and
Recommendation will be adopted in full, and Nolan’s Petition will be dismissed
without prejudice to his 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
On February 7, 2017, Nolan filed a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct
sentence pursuant to 28.U.S.C. § 2255 in the United States District Court for the
Northern District of Illinois. United States v. Aldridge Nolan, No. 3:17-cv-50037
(N.D. Ill. Feb. 7, 2017), ECF No. 1. Therein, Nolan challenged his sentence for
possession of a firearm by a felon under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) as well as his Armed
Career Criminal Act (“ACCA”) sentencing enhancement under 18 U.S.C. §
924(e)(2)(A). Id. The Honorable Philip G. Reinhard found that Nolan’s § 2255 motion
was “without merit” and declined to issue a certificate of appealability, thus
terminating the matter. Id. at ECF No. 9. Nolan now brings substantially the same
arguments before this court under 28 U.S.C. § 2241.
II. Legal Standard
When objections to a magistrate judge’s Report are filed, the court must conduct
a de novo review of the contested portions of the Report. Sample v. Diecks, 885 F.2d
1099, 1106 n.3 (3d Cir. 1989) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)). In conducting a de novo
review, the court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the factual findings
or legal conclusions of the magistrate judge. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Owens v.
Beard, 829 F. Supp. 736, 738 (M.D. Pa. 1993).
Undergirding federal habeas law is an extensive procedural framework that
limits when and how a petitioner may raise post-conviction claims for relief and which
claims are reviewable in federal court. Concerns of federalism, comity, and finality
shape this complex framework and have required the courts to generate specific rules
for when a petitioner’s claim may be adjudicated on the merits. Mathias v.
Superintendent, 876 F.3d 462, 465 (3d Cir. 2017).
The Magistrate Judge accurately explained that two such rules afford a federal
prisoner the opportunity to challenge either the execution or validity of his or her
sentence. Under § 2241, a federal prisoner may challenge the execution of his sentence
– such as a claim concerning the denial or revocation of parole, or a challenge to the
place of imprisonment rather than the fact of conviction – in the district court for the
federal judicial district where the prisoner is in custody. 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). To challenge the validity of his sentence, however, a federal
prisoner must instead 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 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)). “Only if it is shown that
a § 2255 motion ‘is inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of  detention,’ may
a federal inmate 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).
The Magistrate Judge correctly observed that, in the instant petition, Nolan
challenges the validity of his sentence rather than its execution. In particular, Nolan
challenges the validity of his possession of a firearm by a felon conviction as well as
his ACCA sentencing enhancement. 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). He cannot meet this burden by showing that a prior § 2255
motion was denied by the sentencing court. Litterio, 369 F.2d at 395; Brown, 167
F.Supp.2d at 726. Nor is a § 2255 motion “inadequate or ineffective” merely because
he is unable to meet the requirements of § 2244 and § 2255(h), which require a
petitioner to obtain pre-authorization from the appropriate United States Court of
Appeals before filing a second or subsequent § 2255 motion in the sentencing court.
See Brown, 167 F.Supp.2d at 726-27. Nolan cannot avoid the statutory limitations
imposed on successive § 2255 motions merely by styling his claims as a §2241
petition instead. Brown, 167 F.Supp.2d at 727 (citing Moore v. Reno, 185 F.3d 1054,
1055 (9th Cir. 1999)).
In his objections, Nolan raises essentially the same arguments he raised before
Judge Reinhard and in his Memorandum in Support of the instant motion. See Doc.
4; Nolan, No. 3:17-cv-50037, ECF No. 1-1. In particular, Nolan relies heavily on
Mathis v. United States, 136 S. Ct. 2243 (2016) to argue that his predicate three
Illinois felonies for possession with intent to deliver cocaine, possession with intent
to deliver cocaine, and delivery of cocaine no longer qualify as “serious drug
offense[s]” within the definition of 19 U.S.C. § 924(e)(2)(A).
I agree with Magistrate Judge Arbuckle that Nolan is unable to demonstrate that
a § 2255 motion “is inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of his detention.” 28
U.S.C. § 2255(e). As Judge Reinhard explained in his order dismissing Nolan’s § 2255
motion, Mathis does not apply to the Illinois felony for delivery of a controlled
substance, and Nolan’s ACCA sentence is therefore unaffected by Mathis. See Nolan,
No. 3:17-cv-50037, ECF No. 9; United States v. Redden, 875 F.3d 374, 375 (7th Cir.
2017). The fact that relief is not available under Mathis does not mean that a § 2255
motion is inadequate or ineffective in Nolan’s case, but rather that, as Judge Reinhard
found, Nolan’s claim for relief is without merit.
For the above stated reasons, Nolan’s Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 is dismissed.
An appropriate order follows.
March 13, 2018
/s/ A. Richard Caputo
A. Richard Caputo
United States District Judge
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?