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Payton v. Entzel

United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia, Elkins

June 24, 2019

ARTHUR DUANE PAYTON, Petitioner,
v.
F. ENTZEL, Warden, FCI Hazelton, Respondent.

          ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          JOHN PRESTON BAILEY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On this day, the above-styled matter came before this Court for consideration of the Report and Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge James P. Mazzone [Doc. 8]. Pursuant to this Court's Local Rules, this action was referred to Magistrate Judge Mazzone for submission of a proposed report and recommendation (“R&R”). Magistrate Judge Mazzone filed his R&R on May 28, 2019, wherein he recommends that petitioner's Petition for Habeas Corpus Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 [Doc. 1] be denied and dismissed without prejudice.

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(c), this Court is required to make a de novo review of those portions of the magistrate judge's findings to which objection is made. However, the Court is not required to review, under a de novo or any other standard, the factual or legal conclusions of the magistrate judge as to those portions of the findings or recommendation to which no objections are addressed. Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 150 (1985). In addition, failure to file timely objections constitutes a waiver of de novo review and the right to appeal this Court's Order. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Snyder v. Ridenour, 889 F.2d 1363, 1366 (4th Cir. 1989); United States v. Schronce, 727 F.2d 91, 94 (4th Cir. 1984). Petitioner timely filed his Objections on June 17, 2019 [Doc. 10]. Accordingly, this Court will review the portions of the R&R to which the petitioner objects under a de novo standard of review. The remainder of the R&R will be reviewed for clear error.

         BACKGROUND

         Petitioner does not object to Magistrate Judge Mazzone's recitation of the factual background and procedural history. Thus, this Court sees no need to reiterate such here. Petitioner's § 2241 petition before this Court is based on one theory-that his prior convictions no longer serve as predicate offenses under the career offender provision of United States Sentencing Guidelines § 4B1.1. As such, petitioner requests that his sentence be vacated and remanded to the sentencing court for resentencing without the career offender designation.

         APPLICABLE LAW

         Generally, 28 U.S.C. § 2255 provides the exclusive means for a prisoner in federal custody to test the legality of his detention. However, § 2255(e) contains a savings clause, which allows a district court to consider a habeas petition brought by a federal prisoner under § 2241 where § 2255 is “inadequate or ineffective to test the legality” of the detention. 28 U.S.C. § 2255; see also United States v. Poole, 531 F.3d 263, 270 (4th Cir. 2008). The fact that relief under § 2255 is procedurally barred does not render the remedy inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of a prisoner's detention. In re Jones, 226 F.3d 328, 332 (4th Cir. 2000). In the Fourth Circuit, a § 2255 petition is only inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of detention when:

(1) [A]t the time of conviction, settled law in this circuit or the Supreme Court established the legality of the conviction; (2) subsequent to the prisoner's direct appeal and first § 2255 motion, the substantive law changed such that the conduct of which the prisoner was convicted is deemed not to be criminal; and (3) the prisoner cannot satisfy the gatekeeping provision of § 2255 because the new rule is not one of constitutional law.

Poole, 531 F.3d at 269 (quoting In re Jones, 226 F.3d at 333-34).

         The Fourth Circuit recently found that the savings clause may apply to certain sentencing challenges. It explained:

[W]e conclude that § 2255 is inadequate and ineffective to test the legality of a sentence when: (1) at the time of sentencing, settled law of this circuit or the Supreme Court established the legality of the sentence; (2) subsequent to the prisoner's direct appeal and first § 2255 motion, the aforementioned settled substantive law changed and was deemed to apply retroactively on collateral review; (3) the prisoner is unable to meet 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). Because the requirements of the savings clause are jurisdictional, a § 2241 petitioner relying on the § 2255(e) savings clause must meet either the Jones test (if challenging the legality of his conviction) or the Wheeler test (if challenging the legality of his sentence) for the court to have subject-matter jurisdiction to evaluate the merits of the petitioner's claims. See Wheeler, 886 F.3d at 423-26.

         DISCUSSION

         Magistrate Judge Mazzone recommends that petitioner's § 2441 petition be denied and dismissed without prejudice for lack of jurisdiction, as petitioner cannot satisfy the fourth prong of Wheeler, which requires that his sentence “now presents an error sufficiently grave to be deemed a fundamental ...


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