United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
STEVEN C. JAMES, Petitioner
CAPTAIN S. SPAULDING Respondent
MALACHY E. MANNION United States District Judge.
the court is a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. §2241, filed by Petitioner, Steven C.
James, an inmate currently incarcerated in the Allenwood
Federal Correctional Institution, White Deer, Pennsylvania.
Preliminary review of the petition has been undertaken, see
28 U.S.C. §2243; see also, R. Governing
§2254 Cases R.4 and, for the reasons set forth below, the
Court will dismiss the petition for lack of jurisdiction.
April 1, 2015, Petitioner pled guilty to conspiracy to
possess with intent to distribute heroin. U.S. v.
James, 2:14-cr-0087-GCS-KAJ (S.D. Ohio April 1, 2015).
He was sentenced to a term of 110 month imprisonment, three
years supervised release and a $100.00 special assessment.
27, 2016, James filed a motion to vacate, set aside, or
correct his sentence, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §2255.
Id. In support of his claim, he argued that the
Supreme Court's decision in Johnson v. United
States, __U.S. __, 135 S.Ct. 2551(2015), which held that
“residual clause” of 18 U.S.C.
§924(e)(2)(B)(ii) of the Armed Career Criminal Act
(“ACCA”) was unconstitutionally vague, implied
that similar, if not identical, language which appears in
those sections of the Sentencing Guidelines is also
unconstitutionally vague, and that he should be resentenced
without regard to those portions of the Guidelines.
See, U.S. v. James, 2:14-cr-0087-GCS-KAJ
(S.D. Ohio April 1, 2015).
August 1, 2016, the Court granted Respondent's motion to
hold proceedings in abeyance pending a decision in
Beckles v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 2510
(2016)(granting the petition for a writ of
certiorari), which raised the issue of whether
Johnson invalidates the career offender provisions
of the United States Sentencing Guidelines - the same issue
raised in Petitioner's motion to vacate. See,
U.S. v. James, 2:14-cr-0087-GCS-KAJ (S.D. Ohio April
March 6, 2017, the United States Supreme Court held that the
United States Sentencing Guidelines are not subject to a
vagueness challenge under the Due Process Clause, and that
the residual clause in §4B1.2(a)(2) therefore is not
void for vagueness. Beckles v. United States, 580
U.S. __, __, 2017 WL 855781. The Supreme Court reasoned that
“[u]nlike the ACCA, however, the advisory Guidelines do
not fix the permissible range of sentences. To the contrary,
they merely guide the exercise of a court's discretion in
choosing an appropriate sentence within the statutory range.
Accordingly, the Guidelines are not subject to a vagueness
challenge under the Due Process Clause.”
Beckles, 580 U.S. __, __, 2017 WL 855781, *6.
Opinion and Order dated March 16, 2016, the sentencing Court
denied James' motion to vacate, based on Supreme
Court's Beckles decision. See, U.S.
v. James, 2:14-cr-0087-GCS-KAJ (S.D. Ohio April 1,
31, 2017, James filed the instant petition for writ of habeas
corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §2241, seeking to be
resentenced under Johnson. (Doc. 1).
prisoners seeking post-conviction relief from their judgment
of conviction or the sentence imposed are generally required
to bring their collateral challenges pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§2255. See 28 U.S.C. §2255(e). Section 2255(e)
An application for a writ of habeas corpus [pursuant to
§2241] in behalf of a prisoner who is authorized to
apply for relief by motion pursuant to [§2255], shall
not be entertained if it appears that the applicant has
failed to apply for relief by motion, to the court which
sentenced him, or that such court has denied him relief,
unless it also appears that the remedy by motion is
inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of his
28 U.S.C. §2255(e). To that end, the Court of Appeals
for the Third Circuit has observed that “[m]otions
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §2255 are the presumptive means by
which federal prisoners can challenge their convictions or
sentences that are allegedly in violation of the
Constitution.” Okereke v. United States, 307
F.3d 117, 120 (3d Cir. 2002) (citing Davis v. United
States, 417 U.S. 333, 343 (1974)). Section
2255(e) specifically prohibits federal courts from
entertaining a federal prisoner's collateral challenge by
an application for habeas corpus unless the court finds that
a Section 2255 motion is inadequate or
ineffective.” Okereke, 307 F.3d at 120 (citing
In re Dorsainvil, 119 F.3d 245, 251 (3d Cir. 1997)).
This safety valve language in Section 2255(e) has been
strictly construed. See Application of Galante, 437
F.2d 1164, 1165-66 (3d Cir. 1971) (concluding that
unfavorable legal standards in circuit where sentencing court
was located do not render Section 2255 remedy inadequate or
ineffective); Millan-Diaz v. Parker, 444 F.2d 95, 97
(3d Cir. 1971) (concluding that doubts about the
administration of a Section 2255 motion in particular do not
make the remedy inadequate or ineffective); United States
ex rel. Leguillou v. Davis, 212 F.2d 681, 684 (3d Cir.
1954) (holding that even if the sentencing court incorrectly
disposes of a proper motion under Section 2255, the
appropriate remedy is an appeal of that decision and not a
habeas corpus petition).
Section 2255 is not inadequate or ineffective merely because
the sentencing court has previously denied relief.
Dorsainvil, 119 F.3d at 251. Nor do legislative
limitations like statutes of limitation or gatekeeping
provisions render the Section 2255 remedy inadequate or
ineffective so as to authorize pursuit of a habeas petition
in this court. See, e.g., Cradle v.
United States,290 F.3d 536, 539 (3d Cir. 2002);
United States v. Brooks,230 F.3d 643, 647 (3d Cir.
2000); Dorsainvil, 119 F.3d at 251. Rather, only
when a prisoner is in the unusual position of having no
earlier opportunity to challenge his conviction or “is
being detained for conduct that has subsequently been