United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
D. Mariani, United States District Judge.
before the Court is a petition for writ of habeas corpus
(Doc. 1) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 filed by
petitioner Johnny Ray Lopez, Jr. ("Lopez"), a
federal inmate incarcerated at the Canaan United States
Penitentiary, Waymart, Pennsylvania. Lopez challenges a
sentence imposed by the United States District Court for the
Eastern District of Tennessee. (Doc. 1). The petition is ripe
for disposition and, for the reasons that follow, the Court
will dismiss the petition for lack of jurisdiction.
Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals summarized Lopez's
underlying criminal offense as follows:
On October 21, 2010, Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper Joshua
Orlowski pulled over a vehicle because it had an
impermissibly dark window tint. Upon observing an open case
of beer and a wooden club in the vehicle, Orlowski asked the
driver and the three passengers, including Lopez, who was
seated behind the driver, to exit the vehicle. Thereafter,
Lopez told Orlowski that he had an outstanding arrest warrant
for violating parole. After securing Lopez, Orlowski searched
the vehicle and found a loaded Hi-Point 9mm handgun on the
vehicle's floor, under the driver seat, closer to the
rear than the front of the vehicle and with the grip of the
pistol nearest the rear of the vehicle. Orlowski asked the
passengers about the handgun, and Lopez admitted ownership.
Another trooper on the scene, Doug Brewer, also questioned
Lopez. Lopez again admitted ownership and told Brewer that he
needed the gun for protection from the people with whom he
United States v. Lopez, No. 12-5649 (6th Cir. 2013).
Based on these events, on February 8, 2011, Lopez was
indicted in the Eastern District of Tennessee for unlawful
transportation of firearms in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
922(g)(1). United States v. Lopez, No. 2:11-CR-00015
(E.D. Tn.) (Doc. 1). On October 18, 2011, following a jury
trial, Lopez was found guilty. Id. at (Doc. 56).
Lopez was sentenced to a ninety-four (94) month term of
imprisonment. United States v. Lopez, No.
2:11-CR-00015 (E.D. Tn.) (Doc. 66).
timely appealed his conviction to the Sixth Circuit Court of
Appeals. On appeal, Lopez contested whether the prosecution
submitted sufficient evidence to demonstrate that he
knowingly possessed a firearm and challenged the
prosecution's use of his confessions to the troopers,
which he asserted were uncorroborated. United States v.
Lopez, No. 2:11-CR-00015 (E.D. Tn.) (Doc. 75). On
February 25, 2013, the Sixth Circuit affirmed Lopez's
conviction and sentence. United States v. Lopez, No.
12-5649 (6th Cir. 2013).
1, 2013, the sentencing court docketed an undated letter from
Lopez. United States v. Lopez, No. 2:11-CR-00015
(E.D. Tn.) (Doc. 77). In the letter, Lopez complained that
his attorney violated his Equal Protection rights by striking
all men from the jury, and that his attorney failed to do an
independent calculation of the sentencing guidelines.
Id. Also on May 1, 2013, the sentencing court
observed that Lopez's letter appeared to be a § 2255
motion. The court therefore directed the Clerk of Court to
file the letter as a § 2255 motion. Id. at
(Doc. 78). Nevertheless, the court noted that Lopez was still
within his ninety-day period of time for filing a petition
for a writ of certiorari and perhaps had not intended the
letter to be a § 2255 motion. Id. Accordingly,
the court ordered Lopez to notify the court within thirty
(30) days if he did not intend for the letter to be a §
2255 motion, and gave Lopez the opportunity to withdraw his
letter or supplement the letter. Id. In a May 5,
2013 letter, Lopez stated that he did not intend his letter
to be a § 2255 motion. Id. at (Doc. 81).
However, Lopez did not formally withdraw the filing.
5, 2013, Lopez's case was reassigned to a different
judge. Id. at (Doc. 82). Because Lopez's letter
had not been withdrawn, the court then ordered the Government
to respond to Lopez's § 2255 motion. Id. at
(Doc. 84). On November 10, 2014, the Government responded.
Id. at (Doc. 85).
April 7, 2016, the District Court issued a Memorandum and
Order addressing Lopez's "Court-designated, pro se
motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 2255." Id. at (Doc. 89, p.
2). The Court noted that although Lopez stated that he had
not intended to file a § 2255 motion with his May 1,
2013 filing, Lopez did not withdraw it. Id. The
District Court therefore construed the filing as a §
2255 motion, and ultimately denied the motion. Id.
at (Doc. 89, pp. 2-6). Lopez did not appeal the sentencing
court's April 7, 2016 decision.
February 23, 2017, Lopez filed the instant petition pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 wherein he challenges his sentence
from the Eastern District of Tennessee. (Doc. 1). He
challenges his allegedly illegal sentencing guidelines
calculation and requests a lower sentence. (Doc. 2, pp.
13-20). Additionally, Lopez claims that he was denied due
process when the sentencing court construed his May 2013
letter as a § 2255 motion. (Id. at pp. 7-10).
filed under 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
or laws of the United States or are otherwise subject to
collateral attack. Davis v. United States, 417 U.S.
333, 343 (1974); OKereke v. United States, 307 F.3d
117, 122-23 (3d Cir. 2002). Section 2255 "channels
collateral attacks by federal prisoners to the sentencing
court rather than to the court in the district of confinement
so that they can be addressed more efficiently."
Fraser v. Zenk, 90 Fed.Appx. 428, 430 n.3 (3d Cir.
2004), citing United States v. Hayman, 342 U.S. 205,
210-19 (1952). 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.
such claims may not be raised in a § 2241 petition
except in unusual situations where the remedy by motion under
§ 2255 would be inadequate or ineffective. See
28 U.S.C. § 2255; see In re Dorsainvil, 119
F.3d 245, 251-53 (3d Cir. 1997). Importantly, § 2255 is
not "inadequate or ineffective" merely because the
sentencing court has previously denied relief. See
Id. at 251. Nor do legislative limitations, such as
statutes of limitation or gatekeeping provisions, placed on
§ 2255 proceedings render the remedy inadequate or
ineffective so as to authorize pursuit of a habeas corpus
petition in this Court.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. If a petitioner
improperly challenges a federal conviction or sentence under
section 2241, the petition must be ...