United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
William W. Caldwell United States District Judge.
Gray, a federal inmate, when he was housed at Allenwood
Federal Correctional Complex, in White Deer, Pennsylvania,
filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2241. The petition asserts that his sentence was
improperly enhanced under the Armed Career Criminal Act
(ACCA), 18 U.S.C. § 924(e), relying on Johnson v.
United States, ___ U.S. ___, 135 S.Ct. 2551, 192 L.Ed.2d
569 (2015). Johnson was made retroactive to cases on
collateral review by Welch v. United States, ___
U.S. ___, 136 S.Ct. 1257, 194 L.Ed.2d 387 (2016). Also
pending before the Court is Gray's motion to amend his
reasons set forth below, the Petition will be dismissed
without prejudice for lack of jurisdiction, and the motion to
amend will be dismissed as moot.
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.
with limited exceptions, a habeas petition challenging a
federal 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 In re
Dorsainvil, 119 F.3d 245, 251-52 (3d Cir.
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.
29, 2010, a jury in the United States District Court for the
Eastern District of Pennsylvania convicted Gray of being a
felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 922(g)(1) and 18 U.S.C. § 924(e). Gray had three
convictions that qualified him for an enhanced sentence under
the ACCA. (ECF No. 1, Pet.). On May 25, 2011, he was
sentenced as an armed career criminal to a term of 210
months' imprisonment followed by five years of supervised
release. See ECF No. 6-1, pp. 3 - 8. On January 24,
2013, the Third Circuit summarily affirmed Gray's
conviction. (ECF No. 1, p. 2).
February 11, 2014, Gray filed with the sentencing court a
motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence,
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. That motion was denied on
December 19, 2014. See United States v. Gray, No.
09-CR-150-1, 2014 WL 7271247 (E.D. Pa. Dec. 19, 2014). On
September 11, 2015, the Third Circuit denied Gray's
request for a certificate of appealability. (ECF No. 6-1, p.
April 29, 2016, Gray, with the assistance of counsel, filed
with the Third Circuit an application pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2244 and § 2255 to file a second or successive
motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 based on the Supreme
Court's decisions in Welch and Johnson.
On June 29, 2016, the Third Circuit granted the application,
In re: Mahli Gray, C.A. No. 16-2068 (3d Cir. June
29, 2016), and directed that Gray's successive 2255
motion be transferred to the United States District Court for
the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Gray subsequently filed
a second motion in the Eastern District pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255, seeking relief under Johnson,
supra, and United States v. Mathis, U.S.
___, 136 S.Ct. 2243, 195 L.Ed.2d 604 (2016). See United
States v. Gray, No. 09-CR-0150 (E.D. Pa.) (ECF No. 95).
On May 5, 2017, the Government filed a response to Gray's
motion. Id., ECF No. 99. The motion is pending in
the Eastern District.
clear that Gray is challenging the validity of his May 25,
2011, sentence imposed by the Eastern District of
Pennsylvania. Thus, he must raise such a challenge I the
sentencing court under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 unless he
demonstrates that the remedy under § 2255 ...