United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia, Beckley Division
ERIC J. REESE, Petitioner,
DAVID L. YOUNG, Warden, FCI Beckley, Respondent.
PROPOSED FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
A. Eifert United States Magistrate Judge.
before the Court is Petitioner's pro se Petition
for a Writ of Habeas Corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. (ECF
No. 1). This matter is assigned to the Honorable Irene C.
Berger, United States District Judge, and by Standing Order
has been referred to the undersigned United States Magistrate
Judge for the submission of proposed findings of fact and
recommendations for disposition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1)(B). For the following reasons, the undersigned
RECOMMENDS that the District Court
DENY the § 2241 petition and
DISMISS this matter, with prejudice, from
the docket of the Court.
Factual and Procedural Background
2010, Eric Jerome Reese (“Reese”) pled guilty to
federal firearms charges in the United States District Court
for the Northern District of Florida (the “Sentencing
Court”) and was sentenced to 151 months of
imprisonment. (ECF Nos. 5-1 and 5-2). The United States Court
of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit (“Eleventh
Circuit”) affirmed Reese's convictions and
sentences the following year in February 2011. Opinion,
United States v. Reese, No. 10-12673 (11th Cir. Feb.
23, 2011). In May 2012, Reese filed a Motion to Vacate, Set
Aside, or Correct his sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 in
the Sentencing Court, alleging ineffective assistance of
counsel. (ECF No. 5-4). The Sentencing Court denied
Reese's § 2255 motion in October 2014. (ECF No.
5-5). Several years later, in May 2017, Reese filed the
instant Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus while he was
incarcerated in this judicial district. (ECF No. 1). In
summary, Reese alleges that his imprisonment is unlawful
because he did not commit the alleged crimes on
federally-owned land. (Id.). Therefore, Reese
contends that the United States did not have jurisdiction to
enforce the federal criminal statutes against him.
(Id.). The action was docketed as a Petition for a
Writ of Habeas Corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241.
2017, the month after Reese filed the instant action, he
filed a notice of appeal in the Eleventh Circuit. Order,
United States v. Reese, No. 17-12711-H (11th Cir.
Aug. 11, 2017). The Eleventh Circuit dismissed the appeal
sua sponte for lack of jurisdiction, stating that
any appeal of the October 2014 Order denying Reese's
§ 2255 motion or any preceding orders was untimely.
2017, the undersigned entered an Order, requiring the United
States to show cause why the relief sought by Reese should
not be granted in the present matter. (ECF No. 3). The United
States responded that Reese's petition is properly
construed as a motion under § 2255, as it directly
attacks the imposition of Reese's federal convictions and
sentences. (ECF No. 5). Therefore, the United States argued
that the petition must be pursued in the sentencing
jurisdiction, as this Court is without authority to hear it.
(Id.). The United States identified that this Court
may characterize the petition as a request for permission to
file a second or successive § 2255 motion and transfer
the matter to the Eleventh Circuit for review.
(Id.). However, the United States asserted that the
petition should be dismissed, rather than transferred,
because Reese does not offer any new evidence or new rule of
constitutional law to establish a potentially meritorious
claim. (Id.). In addition, the United States noted
that Reese's petition is untimely because it was filed
more than one year after his judgment became final.
28 U.S.C. § 2255 is the exclusive remedy for challenging
the validity of a federal judgment and sentence. See In
re Vial, 115 F.3d 1192, 1194 (4th Cir. 1997). On limited
occasion, the “savings clause” of 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255(e), allows a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2241 to take the place of a § 2255 motion
when the remedy under § 2255 is inadequate or
ineffective, but not “merely ... because an individual
is procedurally barred from filing a Section 2255 motion,
” In re Vial, 115 F.3d at 1194 n.5, nor simply
because relief is unavailable due to the gatekeeping
provisions of § 2255. Young v. Conley, 128
F.Supp.2d 354, 357 (S.D. W.Va. 2001).
the savings clause creates a narrow exception by which a
prisoner may challenge his or her conviction under §
2241 if the claim meets three criteria: (1) at the time of
his conviction, the settled law of the circuit or the Supreme
Court established the legality of his conviction; (2)
subsequent to his direct appeal and first § 2255 motion,
the substantive law changed such that the conduct of which he
was convicted is now deemed not to be criminal; and (3) he
cannot satisfy the gatekeeping provisions of § 2255
because the new rule is not one of constitutional law. In
re Jones, 226 F.3d 328, 333-34 (4th Cir. 2000).
Similarly, to challenge the legality of a sentence via the
savings clause, the petitioner must show that all of the
following criteria exist: (1) at the time of sentencing,
settled law of the circuit or the Supreme Court established
the legality of the sentence; (2) subsequent to his direct
appeal and first § 2255 motion, the aforementioned
settled substantive law changed and was deemed to apply
retroactively on collateral review; (3) he cannot satisfy the
gatekeeping provisions of § 2255(h)(2) for second or
successive motions; and (4) due to this retroactive change,
the sentence now presents an error sufficiently grave to be
deemed a fundamental defect. United States v.
Wheeler, 886 F.3d 415, 429 (4th Cir. 2018). The
petitioner bears the burden of establishing that a §
2255 motion is inadequate or ineffective by satisfying the
Jones/Wheeler criteria. See Hood v. United
States, 13 Fed.Appx. 72, 2001 WL 648636, at *1 (4th Cir.
2001); McGhee v. Hanberry, 604 F.2d 9, 10 (5th Cir.
1979); Hayes v. Ziegler, No. 5:11-cv-00261, 2014 WL
670850 (S.D. W.Va. Feb. 20, 2014), aff'd, 573
Fed.Appx. 268 (4th Cir. 2014).
matter, Reese does not argue that his convictions and
sentences are unlawful due to a subsequent change in law.
Rather, Reese argues that the United States did not have
“territorial jurisdiction” to convict him of
federal crimes at the time that the judgment was imposed.
Therefore, given that Reese challenges the imposition of his
convictions and sentences and has not shown that the remedy
under § 2255 is inadequate or ineffective, Reese's
petition is properly construed as a motion under § 2255.
§ 2241 petitions, which are brought in the district in
which the petitioner is incarcerated, see United States
v. Poole, 531 F.3d 263, 264 (4th Cir. 2008), § 2255
directs the prisoner to “move the court which imposed
the sentence” to vacate, set aside, or correct the
sentence. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). Therefore, if this Court
chooses to construe the petition as a § 2255 motion,
then the matter must be transferred to the appropriate court,
as this Court lacks jurisdiction over the action. By statute,
“upon receiving a wrongfully filed petition in a civil
action, a court ‘shall, if it is in the interest of
justice, transfer such action or appeal to any other such
court in which the action or appeal could have been brought
at the time it was filed or noticed.'” United
States v. McNeill, 523 Fed.Appx. 979, 983 (4th Cir.
2013) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 1631). However, transfer of a
petition that is filed in the incorrect court is not
mandatory. Id. at 984. Rather, a district court
retains the discretion to dismiss, rather than transfer, a
petition that is frivolous or time-barred. Id.
case, Reese's action must be dismissed, rather than
transferred to the sentencing jurisdiction. To begin, the
instant action was filed more than one year after Reese's
conviction became final. Under the Anti-Terrorism and
Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”), a
§ 2255 motion must be filed within one year of the
latest of the following dates:
(1) the date on which the judgment of conviction becomes
(2) the date on which the impediment to making a motion
created by governmental action in violation of the
Constitution or laws of the United States is removed, if the
movant was prevented from ...