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Taylor v. United States

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

July 31, 2019

MARLON C. TAYLOR, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OF OPINION AND ORDER [RESOLVING ECF NO. 1]

          Benita Y. Pearson, United States District Judge.

         Pro se Petitioner Marlon Taylor was confined at FCI Elkton when he filed the above-captioned habeas corpus action under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 challenging the sentence imposed upon him in the United States District Court, Eastern District of Virginia, No. 2:10-CR-192 (“Criminal Case”). ECF No. 1. For the reasons that follow, this case is dismissed.

         I. Background

         The Criminal Case began when Taylor's former girlfriend told the police that he had raped her. On December 1, 2010, Taylor was indicted on the charge of possession of a firearm after conviction of a felony in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2). Taylor v. United States, No. 2:10-CR-192, 2014 WL 12711976, at *1 (E.D. Va. Sept. 19, 2014). After a two-day jury trial, he was found guilty and sentenced to the maximum term of 120 months of imprisonment. Id. The trial judge found, by a preponderance of evidence, that Taylor's ex-girlfriend's account of the sexual assault was credible. Id. The sentencing judge noted that, even without the rape, he would have had “no trouble” sentencing Petitioner to the statutory maximum term given Taylor's “long and egregious criminal record[.]” Id.

         Taylor filed a direct appeal challenging his conviction. United States v. Taylor, 457 Fed.Appx. 282 (4th Cir. 2011). The Fourth Circuit affirmed his conviction. Id. Taylor then filed a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, but his motion was denied. Taylor, 2014 WL 12711976. Taylor appealed the district court's decision denying § 2255 relief, but the Fourth Circuit denied him a certificate of appealability, and the appeal was dismissed. United States v. Taylor, 600 Fed.Appx. 152 (4th Cir. 2015).

         Taylor now seeks relief under § 2241. He contends that the maximum statutory term to which he was sentenced and requirement that he register as a sex-offender are erroneous because they were based upon the “chicanery findings” in his presentence investigation report and resulting use of state court indictments related to his ex-girlfriend's allegations of rape and sexual assault, resulting in an enhancement of 18 offense levels to his federal sentence. ECF No. 1 at PageID #: 4-5. Petitioner further argues that the district court's application of sentencing enhancements violated his Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial and Fifth Amendment right to due process, resulting in a “fundamental defect” in his sentence for which he has no source of redress absent § 2241 habeas relief.[1] Id. at PageID #: 5-6, 10-11.

         II. Standard of Review

         The Court conducts an initial review of habeas corpus petitions. 28 U.S.C. § 2243; Alexander v. Bureau of Prisons, 419 Fed.Appx. 544, 545 (6th Cir. 2011). “[I]f it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief[, ]” the petition will be denied. Rule 4 of the Rules Governing § 2254 Cases (applicable to § 2241 petitions pursuant to Rule 1(b)). As with all pro se filings, the Court evaluates Taylor's petition under a more lenient standard than pleadings prepared by an attorney. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Urbina v. Thomas, 270 F.3d 292, 295 (6th Cir. 2001).

         Habeas corpus petitions brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 challenge the execution of a sentence, while motions brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 in the court where a federal prisoner was convicted and sentenced challenge the validity of the conviction and sentence. See Capaldi v. Pontesso, 135 F.3d 1122, 1123 (6th Cir. 1998). Generally, a habeas corpus petition pursuant to § 2241 may not be used to challenge the validity of a conviction or sentence because “[t]he remedy afforded under § 2241 is not an additional, alternative or supplemental remedy to that prescribed under § 2255.” Hernandez v. Lamanna, 16 Fed.Appx. 317, 320 (6th Cir. 2001) (citing Charles v Chandler, 180 F.3d 753, 756-58 (6th Cir. 1999)).

         But § 2255(e) contains a “savings clause” which provides a narrow exception to this prohibition if the remedy afforded by § 2255 is “inadequate or ineffective” to challenge the legality of the prisoner's detention. It is the petitioner's burden to establish that the savings clause applies to his petition. Hill, 836 F.3d at 594 (citing United States v. Peterman, 249 F.3d 458, 461 (6th Cir. 2001)). Section 2255 is not inadequate or ineffective merely because a motion under § 2255 has been previously denied or is procedurally barred. Id.(citing Charles, 180 F.3d at 756 (“[T]he § 2255 remedy is not considered inadequate or ineffective simply because § 2255 relief has already been denied, or because the petitioner is procedurally barred from pursuing relief under § 2255, or because the petition has been denied permission to file a second or successive motion to vacate.”) (internal citations omitted)).

         III. Analysis

         A petition for a writ of habeas corpus under § 2241 must be filed in the district court that has jurisdiction over a prisoner's place of confinement. 28 U.S.C. § 2241(a). “As a result, habeas corpus proceedings may occur in a court of confinement that is different from the court of conviction.” Martin v. Perez, 319 F.3d 799, 803 (6th Cir. 2003). At the time the § 2241 petition was filed, Taylor was confined at FCI Elkton.[2]

         When considering a § 2241 petition from a prisoner convicted in a different circuit, courts apply the procedural law from the circuit where the petition is filed, and the substantive law of the circuit in which the prisoner was convicted and sentenced. See Burgess v. Merlak, No. 17-4147, 2018 WL 5778364, at *1 (6th Cir. June 22, 2018) (applying Sixth Circuit's savings clause test in Hill v. Masters, 836 F.3d 591 (6th Cir. 2016) to petitioner's § 2241 challenge to his enhanced sentence imposed in the Eastern District of North Carolina) (citing Pittman v. Quintana, No. 16-6857, 2017 WL 6759113, at *1 (6th Cir. Sept. 18, 2017) (citing Hill)); see also Bender v. Carter, No. 5:12-CV-165, 2013 WL 5636745, at *3 (N.D.W.Va. Oct. 15, 2013) (denying motion for reconsideration of the court's application of the Fourth Circuit's procedural rule as to savings clause test because the petitioner was confined in the Fourth Circuit, before considering the substantive law of the Sixth Circuit (where petitioner was convicted) regarding actual innocence) (citing Eames v. Jones, 793 F.Supp.2d 747, 750 (E.D. N.C. 2011) (holding that the substantive law of the court of conviction should apply under the overarching procedural law of the court reviewing the petition)), aff'd, 564 Fed.Appx. 694 (4th Cir. 2014).

         The Court, therefore, applies the Sixth Circuit's test in Hill to determine whether Taylor may invoke the savings clause of ยง 2255 to bring a ยง 2241 challenge to his sentence enhancement imposed in the Criminal Case. If Taylor satisfies the Sixth Circuit's savings clause test, then the Court applies the substantive law of ...


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