United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia
ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION [DKT. NO.
9], OVERRULING PETITIONER'S OBJECTIONS [DKT. NO. 11], AND
DISMISSING § 2241 PETITION WITHOUT PREJUDICE [DKT. NO.
M. KEELEY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
October 6, 2006, in the Western District of Virginia, the pro
se petitioner, David Edward Adams (“Adams”),
pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute more
than 500 grams of a mixture or substance containing
methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§
841(a)(1) and 846, and one count of using and carrying a
firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). The district court
sentenced Adams to a total term of 248 months of
incarceration. Thereafter, Adams pursued an unsuccessful
direct appeal, an unsuccessful motion to vacate under 28
U.S.C. § 2255, and an unsuccessful motion to reduce
sentence under 18 U.S.C. 3582(c).”
October 25, 2017, Adams filed the pending Petition for Habeas
Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241
(“Petition”), attacking the validity of his
sentence (Dkt. No. 1). Relying on Mathis v. United
States, 136 S.Ct. 2243 (2016), and Dean v. United
States, 137 S.Ct. 1170 (2017), he argues that his
sentence “exceeds the statutory maximum authorized by
Congress” and is “greater than necessary to meet
the goals of punishment” (Dkt. Nos. 1 at 5-6; 1-1 at
12-23). He asks this Court to vacate his sentence and
“remand his case for resentencing to time served”
(Dkt. No. 1-1 at 26). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636 and
the local rules, the Court referred this matter to United
States Magistrate Judge Michael J. Aloi for initial screening
and a Report and Recommendation (“R&R”).
Judge Aloi's R&R recommended that the Court dismiss
the Petition for lack of jurisdiction because Adams had not
demonstrated that § 2255 is an inadequate or ineffective
remedy by which to attack the validity of his sentence (Dkt.
No. 9). Specifically, the R&R concluded that Adams had
not established his entitlement to the application of §
2255's savings clause pursuant to the test articulated in
United States v. Wheeler, 886 F.3d 415 (4th Cir.
2018). Id. at 8-10.
objects to the R&R's determination that, because the
Petition does not fall within the scope of the savings
clause, it must be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction (Dkt.
No. 11). He specifically objects to the R&R's
conclusion that the Supreme Court's decisions in
Mathis and Dean do not support the
application of § 2255's savings clause in this case.
Id. at 8-13 (arguing that, despite the magistrate
judge's conclusion to the contrary, Mathis and
Dean apply retroactively on collaterally review).
reviewing a magistrate judge's R&R, the Court must
review de novo only the portions to which an
objection is timely made. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). On
the other hand, “the Court may adopt, without
explanation, any of the magistrate judge's
recommendations to which the prisoner does not object.”
Dellacirprete v. Gutierrez, 479 F.Supp.2d 600,
603-04 (N.D. W.Va. 2007) (citing Camby v. Davis, 718
F.2d 198, 199 (4th Cir. 1983)). Courts will uphold those
portions of a recommendation to which no objection has been
made unless they are “clearly erroneous.” See
Diamond v. Colonial Life & Accident Ins. Co., 416
F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005).
de novo review of the R&R and the record, the
Court concludes that Adams's objections lack merit.
Where, as here, a petitioner seeks to attack the imposition
of his sentence rather than its execution, he may only seek a
writ of habeas corpus pursuant to § 2241 by
demonstrating that § 2255 is “inadequate or
ineffective to test the legality of . . . detention.”
28 U.S.C. § 2255(e) (the “savings clause”).
Wheeler, the Fourth Circuit held that § 2255 is
inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of a sentence
(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.
886 F.3d at 429 (citing In re Jones, 226 F.3d 328,
333-34 (4th Cir. 2000)). If the petitioner cannot satisfy
each of these four requirements, § 2255 is not
inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of his
sentence, and the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to
consider the claim under § 2241. Id. at 426,
as the magistrate judge concluded, Wheeler precludes
any relief under § 2255's savings clause. Even
assuming Adams could satisfy the first and third prongs of
Wheeler, he has not established that, subsequent to
his first § 2255 motion, the “settled substantive
law [that established the legality of his sentence] changed
and was deemed to apply retroactively on collateral review,
” as required by the second prong. Id.
construed, Adams argues that, pursuant to
Mathis and Dean, there have been intervening
changes in substantive law that retroactively affect his
case. Contrary to Adams's argument, district courts in
this Circuit and elsewhere have held that Mathis
does not represent a substantive change in the law. See,
e.g., Stewart v. United States, No. CR
ELH-13-262, 2017 WL 2361089, at *5 (D. Md. May 31, 2017)
(recognizing that Mathis did not announce a new
substantive rule applicable to cases on collateral review and
collecting cases); Dimott v. United States, Nos.
2:06-cr-26-GZS, 2:16-cv-347-GZS, 2016 WL 6068114, at *3 (D.
Maine Oct. 14, 2016) (“The Supreme Court made clear
that it was not breaking new ground in Mathis . . .
.”); Blackwell v. United States, No.
4:10-cr-00012, 2016 WL 5849384, at *5 (W.D. Va. Oct. 6, 2016)
(“By the ...