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Henderson v. Grondolosky

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

September 12, 2017

JEFFREY GRONDOLOSKY, Warden of FMC-Devens, Respondent.



         I. Introduction

         Petitioner Barry Henderson (“Henderson”), a prisoner at FMC-Devens, filed pro se a Writ of Habeas Corpus (the “Petition”) pursuant to 28 U.S.C § 2241, alleging that his sentence as a career offender under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1 is no longer valid in light of Mathis v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 2243 (2016). D. 1 at 2, 6-9. Respondent Jeffrey Grondolosky, Warden of FMC-Devens (“Grondolosky”), has moved to dismiss the Petition because Henderson failed to set forth grounds entitling him to relief under § 2241. D. 12 at 1. For the reasons set forth below, the Court ALLOWS Grondolosky's motion and DENIES the Petition.

         II. Standard of Review

         Grondolosky seeks dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). D. 12 at 1. Federal courts “must always be vigilant about the existence of subject-matter jurisdiction” because they are courts of limited jurisdiction. Fafel v. Dipaola, 399 F.3d 403, 410 (1st Cir. 2005) (internal quotation marks omitted). Where the defendant challenges subject matter jurisdiction, the plaintiff bears the burden to prove its existence. Aversa v. United States, 99 F.3d 1200, 1209 (1st Cir. 1996). Furthermore, “the district court must construe the complaint liberally, treating all well-pleaded facts as true and indulging all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff.” Id. at 1210. In a case where the plaintiff proceeds pro se, these complaints are held at even “less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); see United States v. Ciampi, 419 F.3d 20, 24 (1st Cir. 2005).

         III. Factual Background

         The Court adopts the facts laid out by the court in the District of Maryland in Henderson's prior habeas petitions in United States v. Henderson, No. 07-cr-0497-CCB-1 (D. Md). On February 14, 2008, Henderson pled guilty to charges of possession with intent to distribute cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a). ECF 36 at 1.[1]

         Henderson acknowledged both in his plea agreement and at sentencing that he was a career offender under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1 based on two prior felony controlled substance convictions. ECF 36 at 2, 7. “The Government and Henderson waived the right to appeal a sentence within the guideline range from an adjusted offense level of 31, criminal history category VI: 188-235 months.” Id. at 1. On May 5, 2008, Henderson was sentenced to 188 months of imprisonment and supervised release for a term of five years. ECF 17.

         IV. Procedural History

         Prior to filing the Petition here, Henderson filed three habeas petitions to vacate, set aside or correct his sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. ECF 26; ECF 43; ECF 53. On April 27, 2009, Henderson filed his first § 2255 petition claiming ineffective assistance of counsel for failure to appeal his conviction and failure to object to his status as a career offender. ECF 36. On February 18, 2010, this petition was denied. Id. Henderson appealed the denial of his first § 2255 petition to the Fourth Circuit, ECF 39, but was denied a certificate of appealability (“COA”) and the appeal was dismissed. ECF 47. On August 12, 2010, Henderson filed a second § 2255 petition claiming racial discrimination in the grand jury selection process, ECF 43, which was dismissed as successive pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 2244(b)(3), 2255, on September 10, 2010, ECF 44.

         Henderson then filed a § 2244 petition in the Fourth Circuit for authorization to file a successive habeas petition, but was denied on September 18, 2013. D. 12-1. On May 27, 2014, Henderson filed a third § 2255 petition in the District of Maryland, ECF 53, claiming that his career offender designation was erroneous in light of Descamps v. United States, 133 S.Ct. 2276 (2013), and Whiteside v. United States, 775 F.3d 180 (4th Cir. 2014). Because Henderson lacked a COA, the court denied Henderson's third habeas petition for lack of jurisdiction. ECF 64. The court also found that Henderson would not have been entitled to relief even if he had properly obtained a COA because the holdings Descamps, Whiteside, or Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015) did not alter his status as a career offender under the Sentencing Guidelines. ECF 64.

         On December 1, 2016, Henderson filed the Petition, a fourth habeas petition with the Court under 28 U.S.C. § 2241, while housed in the District of Massachusetts at FMC-Devens. D. 1.

         V. Discussion

         A. Use of ...

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