Ojeda, Corey v. Williams, Louis
Transmission of Notice of Appeal, Order, Judgment and Docket Sheet to Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals re 6 Notice of Appeal. (Attachments: # 1 Order, # 2 Judgment, # 3 Docket Sheet) (nln),(ps)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF WISCONSIN
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - COREY J. OJEDA,
OPINION AND ORDER
LOUIS WILLIAMS II,
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Petitioner Corey Ojeda is a federal prisoner who was convicted in the United States
District Court for the District of Nebraska for possessing less than 50 grams of
methamphetamine with the intent to distribute, 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1), and
possessing a firearm during a drug trafficking crime, 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), and sentenced as
an armed career criminal under § 924(e)(1) based in part on prior convictions for burglary
and for using a weapon to commit a felony in Nebraska. Dkt. ##1-2. Petitioner is now
incarcerated in this district at the Federal Correctional Institution in Oxford, Wisconsin.
He brings a petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241, contending that the
state convictions can no longer be used to enhance his sentence in light of the recent decision
in Mathis v. United States, 136 S. Ct. 2243, 2248-50 (2016), in which the Supreme Court
held that a prior conviction counts as a predicate crime under the Armed Career Criminal
Act only “if its elements are the same as, or narrower than, those of the generic offense.”
The petition is before the court for preliminary review pursuant to Rule 4 of the Rules
Governing Section 2254 Cases. (This rule also may be applied to habeas petitions not
brought under § 2254, such as this petition pursuant to § 2241. Rule 1(b), Rules Governing
Section 2254 Cases). Under Rule 4, I must dismiss the petition if it plainly appears from
the petition that petitioner is not entitled to relief; otherwise, I will order respondent to file
an answer. See also 28 U.S.C. § 2243 (habeas court must award writ or order respondent
to show cause why writ should not be granted, unless application makes it clear that
petitioner is not entitled to relief). For the reasons stated below, I conclude that petitioner
is not entitled to relief under Mathis because the decision is not retroactive.
Williams, case no. 16-cv-749-bbc (Aug. 17, 2017) (finding same); Van Cannon v. United
States, case nos. 16-cv-433-bbc and 08-cr-185-bbc (Jul. 10, 2017) (same). This means that
petitioner still has three predicate convictions and that his petition for habeas corpus relief
must be denied. However, I will issue petitioner a certificate of appealability so that he may
challenge this decision in the court of appeals if he chooses.
Ordinarily, a federal prisoner challenging his conviction or sentence must do so on
direct appeal or in a motion filed under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 in the district in which he was
convicted. Brown v. Caraway, 719 F.3d 583, 586 (7th Cir. 2013). However, there is a limit
to the number of collateral attacks a prisoner may bring, and petitioner has filed at least one
§ 2255 motion regarding his sentence. Dkt. #2 at 1-2. A second or successive collateral
attack is permissible only if the court of appeals certifies that it rests on newly discovered
evidence (which petitioner’s does not) 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)(2). The Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has held that arguments
based on Mathis do not justify successive collateral attacks and “must be brought, if at all,
in a petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2241.” Dawkins v. United States, 829 F.3d 549, 551 (7th
Cir. 2016) (finding that Mathis sets forth new rule of statutory and not constitutional law).
Section 2255(e) allows a federal prisoner to “petition under section 2241 instead if
his section 2255 remedy is ‘inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of his detention.’”
Brown v. Rios, 696 F.3d 638, 640 (7th Cir. 2012) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e)). To satisfy
§ 2255(e), a prisoner must show three things: (1) his petition is based on a rule of statutory
law; (2) he is relying on a retroactive decision that he could not have invoked in his first §
2255 motion; and (3) the sentence enhancement must have been a grave enough error to be
deemed a miscarriage of justice. Light v. Caraway, 761 F.3d 809, 812-13 (7th Cir. 2014);
In re Davenport, 147 F.3d 605, 610-12 (7th Cir. 1998). See also Webster v. Caraway, 761
F.3d 764, 767 (7th Cir. 2014) (“When a change of law, retroactively applicable, shows that
the prisoner did not commit a crime or has received an illegally high sentence, § 2241 is
available if it otherwise would be impossible to implement the Supreme Court’s intervening
decision.”). As petitioner recognizes, a petition under § 2241 must be brought in the district
in which the prisoner is confined rather than the district in which the prisoner was
sentenced. Light, 761 F.3d at 812. Although petitioner can satisfy the first requirement and
may have a valid argument that his sentence enhancement violates the holding in Mathis,
he cannot satisfy the second requirement related to retroactivity.
Contrary to other decisions that the Supreme Court has reached concerning the
Armed Career Criminal Act, the Court has not issued an express ruling finding Mathis
retroactive. For example, after the Court held the residual clause of the Act unconstitutional
in Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015), it issued a ruling making it explicit
that the holding applied retroactively to prior convictions that had been based on the
residual clause. Welch v. United States, 136 S. Ct. 1237 (2016).
In addition, the decision in Mathis does not meet the usual criteria for retroactivity.
Instead of recognizing a new right that has been newly recognized by the Supreme Court and
made retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review, 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f)(3), the Court
merely reaffirmed its 1990 holding in Taylor v. United States, 495 U.S. 575 (1990), that
“a prior conviction cannot qualify as an [Armed Career Criminal Act] predicate if its
elements are broader than those of a listed generic offense.” Mathis, 136 S. Ct. at 2251.
In other words, this is not an issue on which “new law has been made since the time of the
appeal.” Davis v. United States, 417 U.S. 333, 342 (1974) (holding that collateral relief
from federal conviction is available when there is intervening change in substantive law).
Instead, petitioner is raising an issue that has been settled since the Court decided in Taylor,
27 years ago, that for Armed Career Criminal Act purposes, “burglaries” are limited to those
whose elements make up the generic form of the offense, that is, unlawful entry into a
building or structure without consent and with intent to commit a crime. Mathis, 136 S.
Ct. at 2247 (“For more than 25 years, our decisions have held that the prior crime qualifies
as an ACCA predicate if, but only if, its elements are the same as, or narrower than, those
of the generic offense.”). Accordingly, I conclude that petitioner has no ground on which
to argue that he is raising an issue of new law and that his petition for habeas corpus relief
must be denied.
This conclusion seems straightforward, but the court of appeals’ language in a recent
case, Holt v. United States, 843 F.3d 720 (7th Cir. 2016), gives me pause. Holt filed a
collateral attack on an old sentence imposed on him under the Armed Career Criminal Act,
contending that the sentencing court had erred in attributing a prior burglary offense to him.
His motion was denied, but shortly afterward the court of appeals found that the particular
version of the burglary offense of the Illinois statutes at issue was not a violent felony
“because it did not satisfy the definition of burglary used in Mathis” for indivisible statutes.”
Id. at 721 (citing United States v. Haney, 840 F.3d 472 (7th Cir. 2016)).
supplemental briefing, the court of appeals concluded that the motion was petitioner’s
second collateral attack and could not be heard unless the court were to certify that it rested
on newly discovered evidence or was “a new rule of constitutional law, made retroactive to
cases on collateral review by the Supreme Court that has previously been unavailable.” §
The court of appeals added that “substantive decisions such as
Mathis presumptively apply retroactively on collateral review,” id. (citing Montgomery v.
Louisiana, 136 S. Ct. 718 (2016); Davis, 417 U.S. 333 (1974)), but did not explain why it
considered Mathis a new substantive rule of federal constitutional dimensions. Although the
statements in Holt do not change my conclusion in petitioner’s case, I will issue petitioner
a certificate of appealability so that he may challenge my decision in the court of appeals if
he chooses to.
Under Rule 11 of the Rules Governing Section 2255 Proceedings, the court must
issue or deny a certificate of appealability when entering a final order adverse to a petitioner.
To obtain a certificate of appealability, the applicant must make a “substantial showing of
the denial of a constitutional right.” 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2); Tennard v. Dretke, 542 U.S.
274, 282 (2004). This means that “reasonable jurists could debate whether (or, for that
matter, agree that) the petition should have been resolved in a different manner or that the
issues presented were adequate to deserve encouragement to proceed further.” Miller-El v.
Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 336 (2003) (internal quotations and citations omitted). In this
case, I cannot say that petitioner has failed to make a substantial showing of a denial of a
constitutional right, so the certificate will issue.
IT IS ORDERED that the petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed by petitioner
Corey Ojeda, dkt. #1, is DISMISSED. A certificate of appealability shall issue.
Entered this 25th day of September, 2017.
BY THE COURT:
BARBARA B. CRABB
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?