United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER DISMISSING THE PETITION FOR A WRIT
OF HABEAS CORPUS
F. Cox U.S. District Judge.
prisoner Juan Castillo (“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 challenging his
career offender designation under the federal sentencing
guidelines. He seeks removal of the career offender
enhancement and immediate release from custody.
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 review, and for the
reasons stated herein, the court concludes that the habeas
petition must be dismissed.
Facts and Procedural History
pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute 50
kilograms or more of marijuana in violation of 21 U.S.C.
§ 841(a)(1), before another judge in this district and
was sentenced to 144 months imprisonment in October, 2015. In
imposing sentence, the court designated Petitioner as a
career offender under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1 because he was at
least 18 years old at the time of the offense, the offense
involved a controlled substance, and he had two prior felony
convictions involving a controlling substance - a 2003
conviction for maintaining a drug house and a 2004 conviction
for conspiracy to deliver/manufacture marijuana. See
United States v. Castillo, No. 4:12-CR-20288 (E.D.
Mich.). Petitioner did not pursue a direct appeal.
2016, Petitioner filed several motions to vacate sentence
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 in the district court
raising four grounds for relief: (1) trial counsel was
ineffective for failing to properly calculate his criminal
history, (2) the district court miscalculated his criminal
history by counting certain offenses separately, (3) the
district court improperly designated him as a career offender
to enhance his sentence, and (4) his prior assault conviction
is no longer a crime of violence under Johnson v. United
States, U.S., 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015), such that he is not
a career offender. The matter was stayed pending the United
States Supreme Court's decision in Beckles v. United
States, ___ U.S. ___, 136 S.Ct. 2510 (2017). Ultimately,
the district court denied relief on Petitioner's claims.
United States v. Castillo, No. 4:12-CR-20288, (E.D.
Mich. July 24, 2018). The court then denied reconsideration
and denied a certificate of appealability. The United States
Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit also denied Petitioner
a certificate of appealability essentially finding that his
claims lacked merit such that reasonable jurists could not
debate the district court's ruling. Castillo v.
United States, No. 18-2178 (6th Cir. Feb. 25, 2019).
dated the instant habeas petition on April 9, 2019. He
asserts that he is entitled to habeas relief because he is
actually innocent of his U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1 career
offender designation. Specifically, he asserts that his
Michigan prior conviction for maintaining a drug house under
Mich. Comp. Laws § 333.7405(1)(d) is classified as a
misdemeanor and he was sentenced to 270 days in jail.
See Pet., pp. 6-7.
brings this action as a habeas petition under 28 U.S.C.
§ 2241. His habeas claim, however, concerns the validity
of his federal 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
conviction and/or sentence were imposed in violation of the
federal constitution or federal law. Capaldi v.
Pontesso, 135 F.3d 1122, 1123 (6th Cir. 1998); see
also McCully v. United States, 60 Fed.Appx. 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.
Charles v. Chandler, 180 F.3d 753, 756 (6th Cir.
1999); see also Wooton v. Cauley, 677 F.3d 303, 307
(6th Cir. 2012). Habeas corpus is not an additional,
alternative, or supplemental remedy to the motion to vacate,
set aside, or correct the sentence. Charles, 180
F.3d at 758.
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 may have
proven unsuccessful does not generally meet that burden.
In Re Gregory, 181 F.3d 713, 714 (6th Cir. 1999).
The remedy afforded under § 2255 is not considered
inadequate or ineffective simply because § 2255 relief
may be or has already been denied, because the petitioner is
time-barred or otherwise procedurally barred from pursuing
relief under § 2255, or because the petitioner has been
denied permission to file a second or successive motion to
vacate sentence. Charles, 180 F.3d at 756.
Petitioner neither alleges nor establishes that his remedy
under § 2255 is (or was) inadequate or ineffective.
seemingly believes that he should be allowed to proceed under
§ 2241 via the “savings clause” of §
2255 because he is actually innocent of his career offender
designation and sentencing enhancement. Such an argument,
however, puts the cart before the horse. Petitioner fails to
show that his remedy under § 2255 is (or was) inadequate
or ineffective. He challenged his career offender designation
and sentencing enhancement in his motion to vacate sentence
and was denied relief by the district court. The Sixth Court
also denied a certificate of appealability and, in doing so,
specifically rejected his claim that the maintaining a drug
house conviction was not a “controlled substance
offense” under the federal sentencing guidelines
because it is not a felony and he was sentenced to 270 days
in jail. See Castillo, No. 18-2178 at *3. Petitioner
thus had the opportunity to raise his current claim in his
prior proceedings. “The mere fact that the courts have
not found his arguments persuasive is not enough to satisfy
his burden of showing that his remedy under § 2255 is
inadequate or ineffective.” Brewster v. Perez,
26 Fed.Appx. 781, 783 (6th Cir. 2002) (citing In re
2255 is not inadequate or ineffective simply because the
sentencing court and/or appellate denied relief and the
petitioner wants to relitigate a claim that was already
decided against him. See Adderly v. Zickefoose, 459
Fed.Appx. 73, 75 (3d Cir. 2012) (finding no basis for
applying the savings clause where petitioner simply sought to
relitigate a sentencing enhancement issue); Crosby v.
Brook, 353 Fed.Appx. 591, 593 (2d Cir. 2009) (ruling
that § 2255's savings clause was not properly
invoked where the petition was an attempt to relitigate
issues previously decided by other courts); Ceballos
Torres v. United States, 83 Fed.Appx. 609 (5th Cir.
2003) (same). Petitioner may not relitigate his career
offender designation sentencing enhancement claim on habeas
review under § 2241 simply because he did not receive
the desired result in his § 2255 proceedings. Petitioner
is not entitled to proceed under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 on his
claim. This case must therefore be dismissed.