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Roberts v. Willis

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lake Charles Division

September 24, 2019

JEREMY RAY ROBERTS REG. # 10714-003
v.
SCOTT WILLIS

         SECTION P

          JAMES D. CAIN, JR. JUDGE

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          KATHLEEN KAY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Before the court is a pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus filed under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 by Jeremy Ray Roberts (Roberts) who is an inmate in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons and is currently incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institute at Oakdale, Louisiana. This matter is before us for initial review under 28 U.S.C. § 636 and the standing orders of this court.

         I. Background

         On June 25, 2009, Roberts was indicted in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama on one count of conspiracy to manufacture 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, a violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(B), one count of attempt to manufacture 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, a violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841 (a)(1) and (b)(1)(B), three counts of possession of a List I Chemical with knowledge and reasonable cause to believe that it would be used to manufacture a controlled substance, a violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(c)(2), and one count of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, a violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and 18 U.S.C. § 2. United States v. Roberts, No. 1:09-cr-0140, doc. 1 (S.D. Ala. June 25, 2009). On July 15, 2009, the government filed Information to Establish Prior Conviction with the intent to seek enhanced penalties pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 851. Id. at doc. 10. Pursuant to a plea agreement, Roberts was convicted of count one, conspiracy to manufacture 50 grams or more of methamphetamine. Id. at docs. 34. A sentencing hearing was held on May 20, 2010, at which Roberts was sentenced to a 216 month term of imprisonment. Id. at doc. 97.

         Roberts appealed his conviction and sentence to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, which considered appellate counsel's Anders brief[1]. It then denied relief and granted appellate counsel's motion to withdraw. United States v. Roberts, 413 Fed. App'x 222 (11th Cir. 2011). Roberts did not file a petition for writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court, and instead pursued relief through post-conviction motions in the trial court.

         Roberts filed a pro se motion to vacate under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 on July 14, 2017, asserting that his sentence was excessive and seeking to have it modified based upon the United States Supreme Court's rulings in Dean v. United States, 137 S.Ct. 1170 (2007) and Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2251 (2015). United States v. Roberts, No. 1:09-cr-140-001, doc. 127 (S.D. Ala. July 24, 2017). Plaintiff was ordered to re-file his petition on the form required by the court. Id. at doc. 128. He failed to do so, and, accordingly, his motion was dismissed without prejudice for failure to comply with the court's order. Id. at doc. 133. He has also filed in his original proceeding a motion for sentence reduction under 18 U.S.C. § 3582, based on subsequent amendments to the United States Sentencing Guidelines. . Id. at doc. 135. That motion is currently pending Roberts now brings the instant petition for habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2241, asserting that he is entitled to relief under § 2255's savings clause based on the Supreme Court's recent decisions in Descamps v. United States, 133 S.Ct. 2276 (2013), Mathis v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 2243 (2016), and United States v. Davis, 720 F.3d 215 (4th Cir. 2013), and their impacts on sentencing enhancements he received based on prior convictions. Doc. 1, att. 2, p. 12.

         II. Law & Analysis

         A. Screening of Habeas Corpus Petitions

         A district court may apply any and all of the rules governing habeas petitions filed under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 to those filed under § 2241. See Rule 1(b), Rules Governing § 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts. Rule 4 of the Rules Governing § 2254 Cases authorizes preliminary review of such petitions, and states that they must be summarily dismissed “[i]f it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief.” Id. at Rule 4. To avoid summary dismissal under Rule 4, the petition must contain factual allegations pointing to a “real possibility of constitutional error.” Id. at Rule 4, advisory committee note (quoting Aubut v. Maine, 431 F.2d 688, 689 (1st Cir. 1970)). Accordingly, we review the pleadings and exhibits before us to determine whether any right to relief is indicated, or whether the petition must be dismissed.

         B. Section 2241

         A § 2241 petition on behalf of a sentenced prisoner “attacks the manner in which a sentence is carried out or the prison authorities' determination of its duration.” Pack v. Yusuff, 218 F.3d 448, 451 (5th Cir. 2000). In order to prevail, a § 2241 petitioner must show that he is “in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3).

         Roberts alleges an error at sentencing. Such attacks are generally limited to a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Jeffers v. Chandler, 253 F.3d 827, 830 (5th Cir. 2001); Tolliver v. Dobre, 211 F.3d 876, 877 (5th Cir. 2000). A § 2241 petition is properly construed as a § 2255 motion if it seeks relief based on errors that occurred at trial or sentencing. Tolliver, 211 F.3d at 877-78. Habeas relief based on a collateral attack to a ...


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