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Gonyea v. Terris

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

February 5, 2015

JERRY GONYEA, Plaintiff,
v.
J.A. TERRIS, Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER DISMISSING PETITION FOR A WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS (ECF #1)

MATTHEW F. LEITMAN, District Judge.

I. Introduction

Federal prisoner Jerry Gonyea ("Petitioner"), currently confined at the Federal Correctional Institution in Milan, Michigan, has filed a pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 seeking relief from his federal criminal convictions and sentence. ( See the "Petition, ECF #1") Promptly after the filing of a habeas petition, the Court must undertake a preliminary review of the petition to determine whether "it plainly appears from the face of the petition and any exhibits annexed to it that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court." Rule 4, Rules Governing § 2254 Cases; see also 28 U.S.C. § 2243 (directing courts to grant the writ or order the respondent to answer "unless it appears from the application that the applicant or person detained is not entitled thereto"); Perez v. Hemingway, 157 F.Supp.2d 790, 796 (E.D. Mich. 2001) (discussing authority of federal courts to summarily dismiss § 2241 petitions). If, after preliminary consideration, the Court determines that the petitioner is not entitled to relief, the Court must summarily dismiss the petition. See Allen v. Perini, 424 F.2d 134, 141 (6th Cir. 1970) (district court has duty to "screen out" petitions that lack merit on their face). A dismissal under Rule 4 includes those petitions which raise legally frivolous claims, as well as those containing factual allegations that are palpably incredible or false. Carson v. Burke, 178 F.3d 434, 436-37 (6th Cir. 1999). After undertaking such a review, and for the reasons stated herein, the Court concludes that the Petition must be DISMISSED.

II. Facts and Procedural History

In 1994, Petitioner and an accomplice robbed two banks while carrying firearms and threatened to kill those who were present. Petitioner initially pleaded guilty to two counts of bank robbery in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113 and two counts of using or carrying a firearm during the commission of a felony in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) in this district before the Honorable Avern Cohn. Petitioner subsequently withdrew his plea in order to pursue a diminished capacity defense. Following further proceedings, the trial court excluded that defense. Consequently, in 1996, Petitioner again pleaded guilty to two counts of bank robbery in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113 and two counts of using or carrying a firearm during the commission of a felony in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). The Rule 11 agreement called for Petitioner to be sentenced at the bottom of the guideline range and preserved his right to appeal the preclusion of his diminished capacity defense. In September, 1996, the trial court sentenced Petitioner at the bottom of the guidelines to 351 months imprisonment. The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed his convictions. See United States v. Gonyea, 140 F.3d 649 (6th Cir. 1998).

In 2010, Petitioner filed a motion for relief from judgment with the trial court, which was denied. In 2012, Petitioner filed a motion to vacate his sentence with the trial court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. The trial court denied the motion finding that it was untimely and that the grounds raised were not proper subjects for such a motion. See United States v. Gonyea, No. 94-80346 (E.D. Mich. Oct. 22, 2012) (Cohn, J.).

In his current pleadings, Petitioner raises the following claims: (1) his incarceration is unlawful and he is entitled to immediate release based upon the United States Supreme Court's decisions in Missouri v. Frye, ___ U.S. ___, 132 S.Ct. 1399 (2012), and Lafler v. Cooper, ___ U.S. ___, 132 S.Ct. 1376 (2012), which concern the effectiveness of counsel during plea bargaining; (2) the trial court erred in allowing him to withdraw his initial guilty plea without properly ascertaining/informing him that he could not present a diminished capacity defense at trial; (3) the trial court erred in sentencing him to 351 months imprisonment; and (4) he is being denied proper sentencing credit for some of the time he spent in state custody. Petitioner does not allege that his remedy under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 is inadequate or ineffective or that he is actually innocent. Petitioner further admits that he has not exhausted his administrative remedies.

III. Discussion

A. Habeas Claims 1, 2, and 3

Petitioner brings this action as a habeas petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Petitioner's first three habeas claims, however, concern the validity of his convictions and sentence. A motion to vacate sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 filed with the trial court is the proper avenue for relief on a federal prisoner's claims that his convictions and/or sentences were imposed in violation of the federal constitution or federal law. See Capaldi v. Pontesso, 135 F.3d 1122, 1123 (6th Cir. 1998); see also McCully v. United States, 60 Fed.App'x 587, 588 (6th Cir. 2003) (citing United States v. Peterman, 249 F.3d 458, 461 (6th Cir. 2001)). A federal prisoner may bring a claim challenging his conviction or the imposition of sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 only if it appears that the remedy afforded under § 2255 is inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of his detention. See Charles v. Chandler, 180 F.3d 753, 756 (6th Cir. 1999). "The remedy afforded under § 2241 is not an additional, alternative, or supplemental remedy" to the motion to vacate, set aside, or correct the sentence under §2255. Id. at 758.

"The burden of showing that the remedy afforded under § 2255 is inadequate or ineffective rests with the petitioner, and the mere fact that [a prior motion to vacate sentence under § 2255 may] have proved unsuccessful does not necessarily meet that burden." In Re Gregory, 181 F.3d 713, 714 (6th Cir. 1999). Indeed, the remedy afforded under § 2255 "is not considered inadequate or ineffective simply because § 2255 relief [may be or] has already been denied, or because the petitioner is procedurally barred from pursuing relief under § 2255, or because the petitioner has been denied permission to file a second or successive motion to vacate." Charles, 180 F.3d at 756 (internal citation omitted). Moreover, § 2255 allows a criminal defendant to seek relief based upon a change in the law and even to bring a second or successive motion under limited circumstances.

The possibility that Petitioner may not be able to satisfy the procedural requirements under § 2255 does not mean that he should be allowed to proceed under § 2241. See Peterman, 249 F.3d at 461 ("The circumstances in which § 2255 is inadequate and ineffective are narrow, for to construe § 2241 relief much more liberally than § 2255 relief would defeat the purpose of the restrictions Congress placed on the filing of successive petitions for collateral relief"). See also United States v. Barrett, 178 F.3d 34, 50 (1st Cir. 1999) ("A petition under § 2255 cannot become inadequate or ineffective, ' thus permitting the use of § 2241, merely because a petitioner cannot meet the AEDPA second or successive' requirements. Such a result would make Congress's AEDPA amendment of § 2255 a meaningless gesture"). "The remedy afforded under § 2241 is not an additional, alternative, or supplemental remedy to that prescribed under § 2255." Charles, 180 F.3d at 758.

Because Petitioner has not shown that his remedy under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 is inadequate or ineffective, he is not entitled to habeas relief from his criminal sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. See, e.g., Navar v. Warden Fort Dix FCI, 569 Fed.App'x 139, 140 (3d Cir. 2014) (affirming dismissal of § 2241 petition raising claims under Lafler and Frye ); Fuller v. United States, No. 14-cv-714-DRH, 2014 WL 3543703, *2-4 (S.D. Ill. July 17, 2014) (dismissing § 2241 petition raising ineffective assistance of counsel claims under Lafler, Frye, and other Supreme Court cases because petitioner had not shown that his remedy under § 2255 was inadequate or ineffective or that he was actually innocent); ...


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