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Carter v. Lane

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

June 13, 2017

ARTHUR CARTER, Petitioner
v.
WARDEN LANE, Respondent

          MEMORANDUM

          Christopher C. Conner, Chief Judge

         Presently before the court is a petition for writ of habeas corpus (Doc. 1) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 filed by petitioner Arthur Carter ("Carter"), a federal inmate incarcerated at the Allenwood Federal Correctional Institution, White Deer, Pennsylvania. Carter challenges a sentence imposed by the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois for the crime of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and cocaine base (crack) in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 841 (b)(1)(A). (Id.) Carter claims that his federal sentence was based on an incorrect criminal history score, and he should be resentenced with a criminal history score of one point, with a two point reduction under the Fair Sentencing Act. (Id.) Carter claims that his sentence "risks" a violation of the ex post facto clause of the United States Constitution. (Id. at 8).

         Preliminary review of the petition has been undertaken, see R. GOVERNING § 2254 CASES R.4, [1] and, for the reasons set forth below, the petition will be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.

         I. Background

         The background of this matter has been summarized by the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois as follows:

On July 2, 2002, Defendant was found guilty by a Jury in this Court of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and cocaine base (crack) in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(A). (Minutes dated 7/2/2002). On November 1, 200[ ]2, Defendant was sentenced to the custody of the Bureau of Prisons for a term of life. (ECF No. 102). Defendant did not timely appeal his conviction. (ECF No. 152). Defendant sought post-conviction relief by filing a Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Arthur Carter v. United States, ILCD Case No. 04-1131. That Motion was denied. Subsequently, under retroactive Amendments 706 and 711 to the Sentencing Guidelines, the Defendant's sentence was reduced by this Court to a sentence of 360 months (lowest end of the sentencing range of 360 months to life). (ECF No. 184).
Subsequently, Defendant filed pleadings arguing that Amendment 750 of the Sentencing Guidelines and the Supreme Court case of Allevne v. United States, 133 S.Ct. 2151 (2013) provided a basis for further sentencing reduction. (See ECF Nos. 228 and 255). Those Motions were denied. (ECF No. 259).
On July 23, 2014, Carter filed a Motion to Reduce Sentence "due to the recent amendment to U.S.S.G. for all drugs minus two [ ]." (ECF No. 267). Pursuant to Administrative Order (ILCD Case No. 14-1051), the Court entered TEXT ORDER appointing the Federal Public Defender as attorney of record for Carter to represent him on his Motion. On March 16, 2015, pursuant to an agreed motion between the Federal Public Defender and United States Attorney's Office, this Court entered an order reducing Carter's custody sentence to 292 months pursuant to Amendment 782. (ECF No. 271).
In his newest Motion, Carter appears to be under the mistaken belief that no action has been taken regarding his sentence as a result of implementation of Amendment 782 to the United States Sentencing Commission's Guidelines Manual. (ECF No. 280 at 4, indicating that he is still serving a sentence of 360 months). That, of course, is not the case. (See ECF No. 272, Amended Judgment reducing sentence to 292 months). Since Carter has already received relief under Amendment 782, no further reduction is warranted under the change to the sentencing guidelines. Accordingly, the Motion to Reduce Sentence -U.S.S.C. Amendment (ECF No. 280) is DENIED.

United States v. Carter, electronic docket, No. 1:01-cr-10041-MMM-JEH, Doc. 282 (CD. 111. September 1, 2015).

         Carter filed the instant petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 on April 14, 2017 on the ground that the probation officer "incorrectly applied criminal history points that overrepresents [sic] the Petitioner's criminal history when she prepared the Petitioner's pre-sentence report. Due to the incorrect application of the United States Sentencing Guidelines, [the probation officer] violated the Petitioner's Fifth Amendment right to Due Process." (Doc. 1, at 1). For relief, Carter seeks the appointment of counsel "to assist him in being resentenced." (Id. at 8).

         II. Discussion

         Challenges to the legality of federal convictions or sentences that are allegedly in violation of the Constitution may generally be brought only in the district of sentencing pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Okereke v. United States, 307 F.3d 117 (3d Cir. 2002) (citing Davis v. United States, 417 U.S. 333, 342 (1974)); see In re Dorsainvil, 119 F.3d 245 (3d Cir. 1997). Once relief is sought via section 2255, an individual is prohibited from filing a second or subsequent 2255 petition unless the request for relief is based on "newly discovered evidence" or a "new rule of constitutional law." 28 U.S.C. § 2255(h); 28 U.S.C. § 2244(3)(A).

         Review of a petition filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 is limited to circumstances where the remedy available under section 2255 is inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of detention. See 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e); OKereke, 307 F.3d at 120 (explaining that this exception is extremely narrow). Section 2255 may be inadequate or ineffective when a federal prisoner is in an unusual position of having no earlier opportunity to challenge his conviction or where he "is being detained for conduct that has subsequently been rendered noncriminal by an intervening Supreme Court decision." Dorsainvil, 119 F.3d at 251-52. Conversely, "[s]ection 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 the amended § 2255." Cradle v. United States, 290 F.3d 536, 539 (3d Cir. 2002) (citations omitted); see also United States v. Brooks, 230 F.3d 643, 647 (3d Cir. 2000); Dorsainvil, 119 F.3d at 251. "If a prisoner attempts to challenge his conviction or sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2241, the habeas petition must be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction." Id., citing Application of Galante, 437 F.2d 1164, 1165 (3d Cir. 1971) ("Section 2255 has made the sentencing court the exclusive forum for challenge to the validity of a conviction and ...


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