United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
TALWANI UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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.
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.
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].
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].
Petitioner's Challenge to the Validity of His
Sentence Falls Under § 2255
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).
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.
This Court Does Not have Jurisdiction to Hear
Petitioner's § 2255 Claim
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
this district court in the District of Massachusetts lacks
subject matter jurisdiction to adjudicate Petitioner's
claim under § 2255.
Petitioner Cannot Bring a § 2241 Claim by Way of ...