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Reed v. Hazlewood

United States District Court, D. New Hampshire

February 6, 2018

Ceron Montrell Reed
v.
Robert Hazlewood, Warden, FCI Berlin

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          ANDREA K. JOHNSTONE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Ceron Montrell Reed, who was an inmate at the Federal Correctional Institution in Berlin, New Hampshire (“FCI-Berlin”) when he filed this action, has petitioned this court for a writ of habeas corpus (Doc. No. 1), pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Before the court is the respondent FCI-Berlin Warden's motion to dismiss (Doc. No. 10) for lack of jurisdiction. Reed objects to the motion to dismiss. See Doc. No. 15.

         Background

         A summary of the facts and procedural history underlying the § 2241 petition is provided in a September 15, 2015 Order issued in Reed's federal criminal case in the Western District of North Carolina. Reed attached that Order as an exhibit to the petition here, and it is also available on LEXIS and Westlaw. See Doc. No. 1, at 17-24; see also Reed v. United States, Nos. 3:12-cv-377 (“§ 2255 Order”), 2015 WL 5431045, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 122683 (W.D. N.C. Sept. 15, 2015)). Summarized below are facts pertinent to the § 2241 petition before this court.

         Reed was indicted in the Western District of North Carolina in December 2005 for carjacking and aiding/abetting, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2, 2119 (Count One); using, carrying, brandishing, and discharging a firearm during and in relation to that crime of violence, and aiding and abetting, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2, 924(c)(1)(A) (Count Two); and possessing a firearm as a felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) (Count Three). § 2255 Order, 2015 WL 5431045, at *1, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 122683, at *1-*2. Reed pleaded guilty to those charges in June 2006. See id., 2015 WL 5431045, at *1, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 122683, at *2; see also June 1, 2006 Entry & Acceptance of Guilty Plea, United States v. Reed, No. 3:05-cr-419-RJC-DCK (W.D. N.C. ) (“Criminal Case”) (ECF No. 29).

         Reed's Presentence Report identified two prior North Carolina drug offense convictions in Reed's criminal history, one that had resulted in Reed receiving an eight to ten month sentence, and the other that resulted in Reed receiving a sentence of ten to thirteen months. See § 2255 Order, 2015 WL 5431045, at *1 & n.3, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 122683, at *2 & n.3. Both of those prior convictions were deemed to be predicate controlled substance offenses for purposes of qualifying Reed for career offender designation under the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines (“Guidelines”), U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1.[1] See § 2255 Order, 2015 WL 5431045, at *1, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 122683, at *2. Reed was sentenced in 2006 to an aggregate term of 262 months, consisting of a total of 142 months as a career offender on Counts One and Three, and a consecutive 120 months on Count Two. See United States v. Reed, 239 F. App'x 808, 808 (4th Cir. 2007) (“Reed”); see also § 2255 Motion, 2015 WL 5431045, at *1 n.2, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 122683, at *2 n.2. The sentencing court later described Reed's sentence as being in the “low end of the advisory guideline range, ” under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1(c)(3). § 2255 Order, 2015 WL 5431045, at *1, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 122683, at *2 (footnote omitted). Reed unsuccessfully appealed his conviction and sentence to the Fourth Circuit. See Reed, 239 F. App'x at 808-09.

         Four years later, in June 2012, Reed filed a motion in his criminal case under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, arguing, in pertinent part, that one of his prior state convictions, for which he had been sentenced to a term of eight to ten months, no longer qualified as a felony controlled substances conviction, and thus could not serve as one of the two requisite prior convictions for a career offender designation, in light of a change in Fourth Circuit law effected by United States v. Simmons, 649 F.3d 237 (4th Cir. 2011) (en banc), which post-dated Reed's conviction. See Simmons, 649 F.3d at 248-49 (where sentences imposed for prior North Carolina convictions were less than one year, those convictions could not be counted as predicate felony drug convictions under the Controlled Substances Act's ten-year mandatory minimum sentence requirement, 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(B)(vii)). Because Reed had not faced a sentence of more than ten months on one of the prior state convictions, Reed argued that he was actually innocent of being a career offender under the advisory Guidelines. See Feb. 7, 2013 Supp. Mot. to Vacate, Reed v. United States, No. 3:12-cv-00377-RJC (W.D. N.C. ) (ECF No. 5).

         In denying Reed's § 2255 motion and rejecting his Simmons claim, the Western District of North Carolina made two independently dispositive findings: (1) the § 2255 motion was untimely, and (2) collateral relief under § 2255 could not be premised on a Simmons error. See § 2255 Order, 2015 WL 5431045, at *2 & n.5, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 122683, at *2-*3 & n.5 (citing, inter alia, United States v. Foote, 784 F.3d 931 (4th Cir. 2015) (Simmons challenge to career offender designation was not cognizable in § 2255 motion, where none of petitioner's convictions had been vacated, he had been sentenced under advisory Guidelines, and his sentence fell within permissible statutory range); Whiteside v. United States, 775 F.3d 180 (4th Cir. 2014) (en banc) (statute of limitations)). Reed thereafter filed the instant § 2241 petition, again asserting a Simmons claim and arguing that he is actually innocent of being a career offender under the advisory Guidelines.

         Discussion

         I. Savings Clause Jurisdiction

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, the court where the federal prosecution occurred generally has exclusive jurisdiction over a federal inmate's post-conviction motions challenging the validity of his or her federal conviction or sentence. Section 2255(e), known as the “savings clause, ” preserves a limited role for the court in the district where a federal inmate is in prison to consider a § 2241 petition challenging the validity of his or her detention. See United States v. Barrett, 178 F.3d 34, 49 (1st Cir. 1999). Reed filed his § 2241 petition in the District of New Hampshire while he was an FCI-Berlin inmate, seeking to invoke this court's “savings clause” jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e).

         The savings clause provides, in pertinent part:

An application for a writ of habeas corpus in behalf of a prisoner who is authorized to apply for relief by motion pursuant to [§ 2255], shall not be entertained . . . unless it . . . appears that the remedy by motion [under § 2255] is ...

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