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Harris v. Grondolsky

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

September 25, 2018

OTIS RENALDO HARRIS, Plaintiff,
v.
JEFFERY GRONDOLSKY, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER

          INDIRA TALWANI UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. Introduction Petitioner Otis Renaldo Harris's Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus Pursuant to the Savings Clause 28 U.S.C. § 2241 (“Petition”) [#1] challenges the use of three state felony drug convictions as predicate offenses for a career offender sentencing enhancement under the United States Sentencing Guidelines (“U.S.S.G”) § 4B1.1. Pet. 1 [#1]. Respondent Jeffrey Grondolsky has moved to dismiss, arguing that: (1) Petitioner's claim should have been brought under 28 U.S.C. § 2255; (2) Petitioner's claim is not subject to the Savings Clause in § 2255(e) because Petitioner fails to demonstrate that the remedies under § 2255 are “inadequate or ineffective”; and (3) even if Petitioner had brought a claim under § 2255, this court does not have subject matter jurisdiction to hear such a claim. Mot. Dismiss 1, 9-10 [#13]. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion to Dismiss [#13] is ALLOWED.

         II. Background

         Petitioner pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846 pursuant to a Plea Agreement [#13-1] in the District of Maryland. Pet. 4 [#1]; Mot. Dismiss Attach. 1 (“Plea Agreement”) ¶ 1 [#13-1]. At sentencing on November 23, 2009, the court determined that Petitioner's offense level as a career offender was 34 and his criminal history category was VI, “which under the sentencing guidelines provide[d] a recommended range of sentence of 262-327 months.” Mot. Dismiss Attach. 2 (“Sentencing Tr.”) 12:4-8 [#13-2]. Petitioner was sentenced to 280 months imprisonment and five years of supervised release. Id. 24:9-11, 17-18 [#13-2]. Petitioner did not appeal. See United States v. Harris, No. RWT 8:08-cr-0319-006 (D. Md. Nov. 23, 2009).

         On June 2, 2014, Petitioner filed a Motion to Vacate, Set Aside or Correct Sentence Pursuant to Title 28 U.S.C. § 2255 [#13-4] in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, arguing ineffective assistance from counsel, Rule 11 violations, abuse of discretion by the court, and that the sentencing enhancements were improper. Mot. Dismiss Attach. 4 (“Pet'r's 2255 Mot.”) 7-8 [#13-4]. On the government's motion, the court dismissed Petitioner's § 2255 motion as untimely, issuing no certificate of appealability. Mot. Dismiss Attach. 6 (“2255 Order”) [#13-6].

         On May 19, 2017, Petitioner filed this petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Pet. [#1]. In response, Respondent filed the pending motion to dismiss. Mot. Dismiss 1 [#13].

         III. Analysis

         a. Petitioner's Challenge to the Validity of His Sentence Falls Under § 2255

         28 U.S.C. §§ 2241 and 2255 allow prisoners to challenge their detention from two different approaches. 28 U.S.C. § 2255 petitions are the proper means for a petitioner to “claim[] the right to be released upon the ground that the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, or that the court was without jurisdiction to impose such sentence, or that the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law, or is otherwise subject to collateral attack.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). 28 U.S.C. § 2241 habeas petitions challenge “the execution rather than the validity of the sentence, ” United States v. Barrett, 178 F.3d 34, 43 (1st Cir. 1999).

         Petitioner's claim challenges the validity of his sentence. Petitioner argues that his three prior felony convictions should not have been used to add the career offender enhancement to his sentence and that Petitioner should have been sentenced to less time in custody. Pet. 4-5 [#1]. Since Petitioner is challenging the validity of his sentence, not the execution, this claim falls under § 2255.

         b. This Court Does Not have Jurisdiction to Hear Petitioner's § 2255 Claim

         This court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to hear Petitioner's § 2255 claim for two reasons. First, a § 2255 petition must be filed in the district court “which imposed the sentence.” 28 U.S.C. §2255(a). Petitioner was sentenced in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, and so must file his petition there. Second, a prisoner, like petitioner, seeking to file a second or successive § 2255 petition must first “move in the appropriate court of appeals for an order authorizing the district court to consider the application.” 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(3)(A). The appropriate court of appeals to hear Petitioner's request for leave to file a second or successive petition is the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Petitioner has not received authorization from that court to bring a second or successive petition.

         Accordingly, this district court in the District of Massachusetts lacks subject matter jurisdiction to adjudicate Petitioner's claim under § 2255.

         c. Petitioner Cannot Bring a ยง 2241 Claim by Way of ...


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