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Cejas v. Entzel

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

December 10, 2019

CONSTANTINO CEJAS, Petitioner,
v.
F. ENTZEL, Warden, Respondent.

          ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          GINA M. GROH CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Now before the Court is the Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) of United States Magistrate Judge Robert W. Trumble. Pursuant to this Court's Local Rules, this action was referred to Magistrate Judge Trumble for submission of a proposed R&R. Magistrate Judge Trumble issued his R&R [ECF No. 25] on November 6, 2019. Therein, Magistrate Judge Trumble recommends that the Petitioner's § 2241 petition [ECF No. 1] be denied and dismissed without prejudice and Respondent's motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction [ECF No. 12] be granted.

         I. Standard of Review

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C), this Court must conduct a de novo review of the magistrate judge's findings where 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 to which no objection is made. Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 150 (1985). Failure to file timely objections constitutes a waiver of de novo review and of a petitioner's 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).

         Objections to Magistrate Judge Trumble's R&R were due within fourteen plus three days of service. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). The Petitioner accepted service of Magistrate Judge Trumble's R&R on November 8, 2019. ECF No. 26. The Petitioner filed his objections on November 19, 2019. ECF No. 27. Accordingly, this Court will review the portions of the R&R to which the Petitioner objects de novo.

         II. Background

         On February 11, 2019, the Petitioner filed an application for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. ECF No. 1. Therein, the Petitioner challenges the validity of his conviction and 300-month sentence imposed in the Southern District of Indiana, Criminal Action No. 2:11-CR-37, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(C). In support, the Petitioner avers that he is entitled to relief because his conviction and sentence are improper under the terms of the First Step Act of 2018. Id. at 5.

         In response, Respondent filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction [ECF No. 12] on June 21, 2019. In support, the Respondent avers that Petitioner fails to demonstrate that 28 U.S.C. § 2255 is “inadequate and ineffective” to challenge the legality of his sentence and that Section 403 of the First Step Act is not retroactive. Id. at 5 & 9. On July 8, 2019, the Petitioner filed a response in opposition [ECF No. 16], arguing that the Supreme Court's holdings in Rehaif v. United States, 139 S.Ct. 2191 (2019) and United States v. Davis, 139 S.Ct. 2319 (2019) are on point and warrant relief in this matter. Respondent's reply, filed on July 22, 2019, however, notes that Rehaif and Davis do not address the language of Section 403 of the First Step Act, let alone provide support that Section 403 should be applied retroactively.

         III. Applicable Law

         Generally, a prisoner seeking to challenge the validity of his conviction or sentence must proceed under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 in the district court of conviction. 28 U.S.C. § 2255; see United States v. Hayman, 342 U.S. 205, 216-17 (1952). Nevertheless, pursuant to the “savings clause, ” a prisoner may challenge the validity of his conviction or sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 if it appears that a § 2255 motion is “inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of his detention.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e).

         Under Wheeler, a § 2255 motion is inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of a sentence when the following four conditions are met:

(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 ยง 2255(h)(2) for second or ...

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