United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
OPINION AND ORDER
AARON POLSTER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is Defendant James Jones' Motion for Habeas
Relief under 28 U.S.C. §§ 2255 and 2241.
Doc #: 55. For the following reason,
Jones' Motion is DENIED.
October 25, 2016, Jones was charged in a four-count
indictment with two counts of illegally possessing with
intent to distribute heroin in violation of 21 U.S.C.
§§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(B), one count of illegally
possessing a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
922(g)(1), and one count of managing a home used for drug
trafficking in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 856(a)(2). On
July 20, 2017, Jones entered into a plea agreement whereby he
pleaded guilty to all four counts. Doc #: 26. As part of the
plea agreement, and as detailed in the presentence report,
Jones' base offense level was raised because, at the
time, he qualified as a career offender. Doc #: 26 at 14-15.
The two prior convictions that qualified as career offender
predicates are: (1) drug trafficking, Cuyahoga County Court
of Common Please No. 04-CR-459539B, violation of Ohio Revised
Code § 2925.03 and (2) drug trafficking, Cuyahoga County
Court of Common Please No. 08-CR-506167A, violation of Ohio
Revised Code § 2925.03(A)(2). Id.
October 1, 2019, Jones filed a Motion for Habeas Relief under
28 U.S.C. §§ 2255 and 2241. Doc #: 55. The
Government filed response on October 23, 2019. Doc #: 57.
Jones filed a reply on November 12, 2019. Doc #: 58.
issues in this case center on whether Jones' claim is
cognizable. Jones argues that in light of the Sixth
Circuit's ruling in United States v. Havis, 927
F.3d 382 (6th Cir. 2019), he is not a career offender and
thus sentencing him as a career offender was in error. Doc #:
55. The Government contends that Jones' claim is not
cognizable for two reasons: (1) Jones waived his right to
challenge the conviction or sentence collaterally through a
post-conviction proceeding and (2) Havis is not
retroactive. Doc #: 57. Jones rebuts the governments
arguments, asserting: (1) that the claim is not waived
because Jones could not have waived “future
rights” and (2) Havis does not need to be
retroactive for Jones' claim to be cognizable. Doc #: 58.
also acknowledges that the cognizability of a Havis
claim brought under § 2255 has been limited by
Bullard v. United States, 937 F.3d 654 (6th Cir.
2019). Doc #: 55 at 10-11. However, he asserts that his claim
is cognizable under § 2255 despite Bullard
because he asserts a constitutional claim. Doc #: 55 at 11.
Alternatively, Jones asserts that his claim is cognizable
under § 2241. Doc #: 55 at 13.
Court agrees with the Government that Jones waived his claim.
Courts enforce claim waivers included in plea agreements when
the agreements are made knowingly and voluntarily. United
States v. Morrison, 852 F.3d 488, 490 (6th Cir. 2017).
“[C]ourts will enforce appeal waivers even when a legal
development makes it likely that the defendant would receive
a lower sentence were the defendant resentenced under the new
law . . . .” Morrison, 852 F.3d at 491;
See also In re Garner, 664 Fed.Appx. 441. 443-44
(6th Cir. 2016) (finding that collateral claim waivers are
enforceable even “where developments in law later
expand a right that a defendant has waived in a plea
agreement . . .”).
does not dispute that the plea agreement was made knowingly
and voluntarily. Rather, citing United States v.
McBride, 826 F.3d 293 (6th Cir. 2016), he argues that
“appellate waivers cannot be enforced to claims that
did not exist at the time of [the] original plea.” Doc
#: 58 at 4. Because Havis was decided after Jones
was sentenced, he asserts he may bring his Havis
reliance on United States v. McBride, 826 F.3d 293
(6th Cir. 2016) is misplaced. In McBride, the
defendant explicitly agreed that the career offender
sentencing enhancement applied to him. McBride, 826
F.3d at 294. While the agreement acted generally as a claim
waiver on the issue, the Sixth Circuit held that Defendant
could not have waived his career offender status challenge
based on developments of law that occurred after he was
sentenced. Id. at 295.
Morrison explains that the rule in McBride
does not apply when the claim waiver was in a plea agreement.
McBride involved an explicit agreement, not a claim
waiver in a plea agreement. Morrison, 852 F.3d at
491. By simply agreeing that he qualified as a career
offender, the defendant in McBride could not have
intentionally relinquished his career-offender status
challenges based on law developed after he was sentenced.
Id. Conversely, a defendant waiving his appeal and