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Hakim v. Spaulding

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

September 5, 2019

MAHDI HAKIM, Petitioner,
v.
STEPHEN SPAULDING, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          HON. PATTI B. SARIS CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pro se petitioner Mahdi Hakim (“Hakim”) has filed a petition under 28 U.S.C. §§ 2255(e) and 2241 to vacate his life sentence for a 2006 drug trafficking conviction. The Government moves to dismiss the petition. After a review of the record, the Court DENIES Hakim's petition (Dkt. No. 1) and ALLOWS the Government's motion to dismiss (Dkt. No. 8).

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On August 16, 2006, after a jury trial in the United States District Court for the District of South Dakota, Hakim was convicted of conspiring to distribute and posses with the intent to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine base. On November 7, 2006, he was sentenced to a mandatory minimum sentence of life imprisonment under 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A). Hakim received an enhanced sentence because he had two prior felony drug convictions. He since has filed one direct appeal and four habeas corpus petitions seeking to vacate his conviction.

         In his direct appeal to the Eighth Circuit, Hakim argued there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction. On June 21, 2007, the Eighth Circuit denied his appeal and upheld the conviction. See United States v. Hakim, 491 F.3d 843, 846 (8th Cir. 2007). On June 23, 2008, Hakim filed a petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to vacate his sentence, claiming once again that there was insufficient evidence to support the conviction and adding claims for ineffective assistance of counsel and various due process violations. That petition was denied. See Hakim v. United States, No. CIV 08-4097, 2010 WL 2244080, at *1-2, *7 (D.S.D. June 2, 2010). On July 16, 2012, Hakim filed a second § 2255 petition on the basis that he was actually innocent of the charges for which he was convicted. That second petition was also denied. See Hakim v. United States, No. CIV 12-4134, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 108243, at *2, *10 (D.S.D. Aug. 2, 2012). On July 11, 2017, Hakim filed a third § 2255 petition in which he asserted that the United States lacked jurisdiction over the land where the crime had occurred. His third petition too was denied. See Hakim v. United States, No. CV-17-4093, 2017 WL 3503667, at *1, *3 (D.S.D. Aug. 14, 2017).

         Hakim now moves to vacate his sentence pursuant to the “savings clause” of § 2255(e) and § 2241. Hakim bases his petition on the Supreme Court's ruling in Alleyne v. United States, 570 U.S. 99, 103 (2013), which held “that any fact that increases the mandatory minimum [sentence] is an ‘element' that must be submitted to the jury.” He contends that the judge rather than the jury determined the drug amount attributable to him and, therefore, he was improperly sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of life imprisonment under 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A).

         DISCUSSION

         I. Legal Standard

         A federal prisoner may challenge the validity of his term of incarceration and seek post-conviction relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a) if his “sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law . . . or is otherwise subject to collateral attack.” To merit consideration, the petition must be timely filed in the court in which the petitioner was sentenced. Id. The petition is bound by a one-year period of limitation, running from the date on which the judgment of conviction becomes final or from the date on which a newly asserted constitutional right, made retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review, was recognized by the Supreme, whichever is latest.[1] Id. § 2255(f). Second or successive § 2255 petitions require leave to file from the appropriate court of appeals. Id. § 2255(h).

         When § 2255 is otherwise unavailable, a federal prisoner still may file for a writ of habeas corpus challenging his sentence through the savings clause of § 2255(e) by proceeding under § 2241. A § 2241 petition may be filed in either the jurisdiction where the petitioner was convicted and sentenced or where he is currently imprisoned.[2] 28 U.S.C. § 2241(d). There is no timeliness requirement for filing a petition under § 2241. See id.; Neverson v. Farquharson, 366 F.3d 32, 40 (1st Cir. 2004). However, relief under § 2241 is unavailable after successive § 2255 petitions unless § 2255 is “inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of detention.” United States v. Barrett, 178 F.3d 34, 39 (1st Cir. 1999) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e)). Relief under § 2255 is inadequate or ineffective “when, in a particular case, the configuration of [§ 2255] is such ‘as to deny a convicted defendant any opportunity for judicial rectification.'” Trenkler v. United States, 536 F.3d 85, 99 (1st Cir. 2008) (quoting In re Davenport, 147 F.3d 605, 611 (7th Cir. 1998)).

         Accordingly, the First Circuit has recognized that § 2241 is available via the savings clause of § 2255(e) in two limited circumstances. First, a petitioner generally may resort to the savings clause when he makes a “credible allegation of actual innocence.” Trenkler, 536 F.3d at 99. Second, a petitioner may invoke the savings clause when the Supreme Court has reversed the holdings of the circuit courts regarding the meaning of a statute, and the petitioner is no longer guilty of a crime under the Supreme Court's new interpretation. See Sustache-Rivera v. United States, 221 F.3d 8, 16 (1st Cir. 2000). Absent these two circumstances, however, a petitioner cannot rely on the savings clause to raise a claim that otherwise would be barred by the provisions of § 2255. See Barrett, 178 F.3d at 50-52.

         II. Analysis

         Hakim's claim fails for at least three reasons: (1) he cannot use the savings clause of § 2255 to file a § 2241 petition; (2) he does not satisfy the requirements for a second or successive § 2255 petition; and (3) even if there were a procedural avenue for him to pursue his claim, it fails on the merits because the First Circuit has held that Alleyne is not retroactive on collateral review.

         First, Hakim has failed to show that § 2255 relief is inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of his detention He does not argue that he is actually innocent but instead seeks to vacate his conviction on the basis of a procedural error. Hakim already has twice challenged the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his conviction and once challenged his conviction on the basis that he is actually innocent. Those challenges were unsuccessful, and he has presented no new evidence in this petition to potentially exonerate himself. Hakim also does not argue that the charged conduct is no longer criminal under a new interpretation of § 841. Alleyne was a constitutional decision regarding whether a judge or jury must decide facts that increase a mandatory ...


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