Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Tennison v. Terris

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

June 29, 2018

LLOYL A. TENNISON, Petitioner,
v.
J.A. TERRIS, Respondent.

          OPINION & ORDER (1) DENYING THE PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS (DKT. 1) AND (2) GRANTING LEAVE TO APPEAL IN FORMA PAUPERIS

          MARK A. GOLDSMITH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Petitioner Lloyl A. Tennison, confined at the Federal Correctional Institution in Milan, Michigan, filed a pro se petition for the writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 (Dkt.1). The petition challenges Petitioner's enhanced federal sentence for conspiracy to manufacture and to distribute methamphetamine. Because Petitioner's claims cannot be asserted in a petition under § 2241, and because the claims lack substantive merit, the Court denies the petition.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In 2009, Petitioner pleaded guilty in an Illinois state court to possession of material used to manufacture methamphetamine. See 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 646/30. In 2012, Petitioner pleaded guilty in the Federal District Court for the Central District of Illinois to conspiracy to manufacture and distribute methamphetamine. See 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 846. The Government apparently filed a notice under 21 U.S.C. § 851, indicating that Petitioner was subject to an enhanced sentence in light of his state conviction. The Federal District Court then sentenced Petitioner to a mandatory minimum sentence of twenty years in prison due to Petitioner's prior state conviction.[1]

         Petitioner appealed his conviction and sentence, arguing that his state conviction was not prior to his federal conspiracy and, therefore, it should not have been used to increase his federal sentence from ten to twenty years. The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit rejected Petitioner's argument and affirmed his conviction and sentence. See United States v. Sidell, 553 Fed.Appx. 619 (7th Cir. 2014). On October 6, 2014, the United States Supreme Court denied Petitioner's application for a writ of certiorari. See Tennison v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 104 (2014).

         Petitioner filed a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, arguing that: (1) he was actually innocent of his conviction, and his trial attorney was ineffective for failing to object to the amount of methamphetamine reported in Petitioner's pre-sentence report; (2) his sentence violated Alleyne v. United States, 133 S.Ct. 2151 (2013), and appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to raise this issue on appeal; and (3) he was actually innocent of the conspiracy charge, and trial counsel provided ineffective assistance at the plea-bargaining stage. The Federal District Court in Illinois found no merit in Petitioner's arguments and denied his motion. See Tennison v. United States, No. 15-1113, 2015 WL 1540990 (C.D. Ill. Apr. 1, 2015).

         Finally, on May 5, 2017, Petitioner filed his habeas corpus petition. Relying on Mathis v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 2243 (2016), he alleges that his state conviction was not a “felony drug offense” under 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A) and, therefore, it should not have been used as a predicate offense to enhance his federal sentence. Stated differently, Petitioner argues that his prior conviction should not have been used to trigger the 20-year minimum sentence in his federal case because the definition of his state crime is broader than the generic crime described in 21 U.S.C. § 802(44). More specifically, Petitioner contends that the state statute does not require actual involvement with drugs or a controlled substance, but § 802(44) requires the predicate offense to involve actual drugs or controlled substances. Pet. at 3, 6-8 (Dkt. 1).

         Petitioner also alleges that the phrase “conduct relating to narcotic drugs . . . or stimulant substances” in § 802(44) is void for vagueness and violates the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. According to Petitioner, the phrase failed to give him fair notice that a violation of 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 646/30 would expose him to an enhanced federal sentence. Pet. at 9-10 (Dkt. 1).

         The Government argues in an answer to the petition (Dkt. 6) that Petitioner may not raise his claims under 28 U.S.C. § 2241, that Mathis is irrelevant to Petitioner's claims, and that Petitioner's claims fail on the merits. See Response to Pet. at 3-7 (Dkt. 6). Petitioner replies that the Government's response is frivolous and meritless. See Reply Brief at 1 (Dkt. 7).

         II. ANALYSIS

         A. Section 2241 vs. Section 2255

         Petitioner filed his petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2241, which states in relevant part that “[t]he writ of habeas corpus shall not extend to a prisoner unless . . . [h]e is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3). A preliminary issue is whether Petitioner may bring his claims under 28 U.S.C. § 2241, as opposed to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. “A challenge to the validity of a federal conviction or sentence is generally brought as a habeas corpus petition pursuant to § 2255, while a petition concerning the manner or execution of a sentence is appropriate under § 2241.” Hill v. Masters, 836 F.3d 591, 594 (6th Cir. 2016) (citing United States v. Peterman, 249 F.3d 458, 461 (6th Cir. 2001)); accord Terrell v. United States, 564 F.3d 442, 447 (6th Cir. 2009) (stating that “[s]ection 2255 provides the primary avenue of relief for federal prisoners ‘claiming the right to release' as a result of an unlawful sentence”) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a)); Charles v. Chandler, 180 F.3d 753, 755-56 (6th Cir. 1999) (noting that “claims asserted by federal prisoners that seek to challenge their convictions or imposition of their sentence shall be filed in the sentencing court under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, and that claims seeking to challenge the execution or manner in which the sentence is served shall be filed in the court having jurisdiction over the prisoner's custodian under 28 U.S.C. § 2241”) (internal and end citations omitted).

         Petitioner's grounds for relief challenge his federal sentence, as opposed to the execution or manner in which he is serving his sentence. As such, the proper remedy for his claims is a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence under § 2255. Petitioner may bring his claims under § 2241 only if the claims fall within the “savings clause” of § 2255, which permits a prisoner to apply for the writ of habeas corpus when it “appears that the remedy by motion is inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of his detention.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e). Section “2255 is not ‘inadequate or ineffective' merely because habeas relief has previously been denied, a § 2255 motion is procedurally barred, or the petitioner has been denied permission to file a successive motion.” Hill, 836 F.3d at 594 (citing Charles, 180 F.3d at 756).

         A petitioner may challenge a conviction under § 2241, using the savings clause of § 2255(e), by showing that he is actually innocent of his crime of conviction. Hill, 836 F.3d at 594 (citing Wooten v. Cauley, 677 F.3d 303, 307 (6th Cir. 2012)); see also Bannerman v. Snyder, 325 F.3d 722, 724 (6th Cir. 2003) (stating that “[t]he savings clause may only be applied when the petitioner makes a claim of actual innocence”). But Petitioner is not claiming to be innocent of his crime of conviction; instead, he is ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.