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Williams v. Spaulding

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

May 14, 2019

ANTHONY D. WILLIAMS, Petitioner,
v.
S. SPAULDING, WARDEN, Respondent.

          ORDER

          KATHERINE A. ROBERTSON U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Petitioner Anthony D. Williams (“Williams” or “Petitioner”) filed this action challenging the sentence imposed in connection with his 1999 conviction for possession with intent to distribute cocaine base (Dkt. No. 1 at 2-3).[1] He claims that the sentence of 324 months followed by a 60-month term of supervised release imposed on him violated the principle announced in Alleyne v. United States, 570 U.S. 99 (2013), and that he is entitled to relief in this court under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 pursuant to the so-called savings clause in 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e).[2] Before this court is the government's Motion to Dismiss Petition Under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 (Dkt. No. 11), which asserts that this court lacks jurisdiction over Petitioner's § 2241 petition. Williams objects and has filed a written opposition to the government's motion (Dkt. No. 20). The parties have consented to this court's jurisdiction (Dkt. Nos. 8, 12). See 28 U.S.C. § 636(c); Fed.R.Civ.P. 73. For the reasons set forth below, the government's motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction is GRANTED.

         I. Background

         In United States v. Williams, No. 4:98-cr-01095-RCC-1 (D. Ariz. filed Sept. 9, 1998), the jury, on July 22, 1999, convicted Williams of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine base (Count 1) and possession with intent to distribute cocaine base (Count 2) (Dkt. No. 11-1 at 10-11). The indictment did not charge possession of a certain weight of cocaine base, and the jury did not make a finding about the weight of the cocaine base Williams had possessed. He was sentenced to serve 324 months with 60 months of supervised release to follow on each count, with the sentences to run concurrently (Dkt. No. 11-1 at 15). In 2002, on direct appeal, the Ninth Circuit reversed Williams's conviction on Count 1 (conspiracy). The sentence remained unchanged (Dkt. No. 11-1 at 17). See United States v. Williams, 45 Fed.Appx. 775, 779-780 (9th Cir. 2002) (unpublished).

         On October 21, 2003, Williams filed a motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to vacate or set aside his sentence, raising more than twenty-five issues and claiming actual innocence (Dkt. No. 11-1 at 18; Dkt. No. 11-4). The sentencing judge denied the petition on or around September 9, 2004 (Dkt. No. 11-4 at 28). The district court denied a certificate of appealability and the Ninth Circuit followed suit on April 17, 2007 (Dkt. No. 11-1 at 22-23). On March 10, 2008, Williams filed a motion for retroactive application of the change to the sentencing guidelines for offenses involving cocaine base. Following the appointment of counsel to represent Williams, this motion also was denied by the district court and the denial was affirmed by the Ninth Circuit (Dkt. No. 11-1 at 23-26). In 2012, representing himself, Williams filed a petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 before the United States District Court for the District of Oregon, invoking the savings clause in 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e) and challenging his sentence on actual innocence grounds. The court held that Williams's petition did not allege actual innocence and, on June 3, 2013, dismissed the petition for lack of subject matter jurisdiction (Dkt. No. 11-5 at 4-5). After the district court denied a certificate of appealability, the Ninth Circuit affirmed this ruling (Dkt. No. 11-6).

         II. Analysis

         In this court, Williams has filed a second petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2241, again invoking the savings clause in 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e). He asserts that his sentence was imposed in violation of the principles announced in Alleyne, 570 U.S. at 99, and that he is entitled to petition for relief from this fundamental sentencing error by invoking the savings clause in § 2255(e) (Dkt. No. 1-1 at 6-22).

         1. Standard of Review

         The respondent's motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction is governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1). See generally Rules 1(b) and 12 of the Rules Governing § 2254 Cases. “When a [respondent] moves to dismiss for lack of federal subject matter jurisdiction, ‘”the party invoking the jurisdiction of a federal court carries the burden of proving its existence.”'” Johansen v. United States, 506 F.3d 65, 68 (1st Cir. 2007) (quoting Murphy v. United States, 45 F.3d 520, 522 (1st Cir. 1995), (quoting Taber Partners, I. v. Merit Builders, Inc., 987 F.2d 57, 60 (1st Cir. 1993))). Williams therefore bears the burden of demonstrating that the respondent's motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction should be denied.

         2. Jurisdiction Under the Savings Clause

         A petitioner such as Williams, who has already filed several petitions for habeas relief,

may file a second or successive § 2255 petition only if the court of appeals first certifies that the petition is based on either:
(1) newly discovered evidence that, if proven and viewed in light of the evidence as a whole, would be sufficient to establish by clear and convincing evidence that no reasonable factfinder would have found the movant guilty of the offense; or
(2) a new rule of constitutional law, made retroactive to cases on collateral review by the Supreme Court, that was ...

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