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Coleman v. Julian

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division

January 26, 2018

RONALD LEE COLEMAN, Petitioner,
v.
S. JULIAN, Respondent.

          ORDER DENYING WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 2241 AND DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT

          Hon. William T. Lawrence, Senior Judge

         Petitioner Ronald Lee Coleman seeks a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. He argues that he is entitled to relief under Mathis v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 2243 (2016), because he does not have the necessary predicate convictions to qualify as a career offender under Section 4B1.1 of the United States Sentencing Guidelines (U.S.S.G.). For the reasons explained below, his petition is denied.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         Coleman is an inmate currently housed at the United States Penitentiary, located in Terre Haute, Indiana. Coleman was indicted in the Northern District of Iowa in United States v. Coleman, CR 07-66-1-LLR (N.D. Iowa). He pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute 100 kilograms or more of marijuana after a prior felony drug conviction, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(B), 846, and 851 (Count 1) and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1956(a)(1)(i) and 1956(h) (Count 2).

         Coleman's presentence report identified several prior convictions. (Dkt. No. 18, PSR ¶¶ 78-86, 93-104, 107-111.) The two convictions identified for purposes of the career offender enhancement were a 1995 Iowa conviction for third degree burglary, in violation of Iowa Code § 713.6A, and attempted third degree burglary, in violation of Iowa Code § 713.6B. (PSR ¶¶ 82, 86.) Based on these prior convictions, the sentencing court found Coleman to be a career offender under § 4B1.1.

         Excluding the career offender designation, Coleman's Guidelines range was 188 to 235 months' imprisonment. (PSR ¶¶ 46-59.) With the career offender designation, Coleman's Guidelines range was 262 to 327 months' imprisonment. (PSR ¶ 182.) Coleman was sentenced to 262 months' imprisonment. When imposing the sentence, the district court considered the Section 3553(a) sentencing factors and stated:

I want to just make a short record that even if I am incorrect about the computation of the advisory guideline sentence, I still would impose the same sentence that I'm going to impose in a few minutes for the following reasons. In other words, if I just look at the statutory factors and ignore the guidelines or the computations that I have made under the guidelines, the sentence I'm going to impose is still the right sentence for these reasons . . . .

         Sentencing Hearing Transcript, CR 07-66-1-LLR (Crim. Dkt. No. 43, pg. 59.) (Transcript attached to this Entry as an Exhibit).

         To date, Coleman's direct appeal and collateral attacks have been unsuccessful.[1] Now before the Court is Coleman's petition for a writ of habeas corpus under § 2241 challenging his sentence.

         II. Discussion

         Coleman alleges he is no longer a career offender under the Sentencing Guidelines in view of the Supreme Court's decision in Mathis v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 2243 (2016). In particular, he claims that his convictions for burglary in Iowa no longer qualify him as a career offender under § 4B1.1 of the Sentencing Guidelines. He asks to be resentenced. The United States argues that this Court should dismiss Coleman's habeas petition because he fails to show that § 2255 is inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of his sentence. Coleman filed a reply and supplemental reply. This action is now ripe for review.

         A motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 is the presumptive means by which a federal prisoner can challenge his conviction or sentence. See Davis v. United States, 417 U.S. 333, 343 (1974); United States v. Bezy, 499 F.3d 668, 670 (7th Cir. 2007). However, § 2255(e) provides that if § 2255 is “inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of his detention, ” Coleman may file an application for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Section 2255 is inadequate or ineffective if the following three requirements are met: “(1) the petitioner must rely on a case of statutory interpretation (because invoking such a case cannot secure authorization for a second § 2255 motion); (2) the new rule must be previously unavailable and apply retroactively; and (3) the error asserted must be grave enough to be deemed a miscarriage of justice, such as the conviction of an innocent defendant.” Davis v. Cross, 863 F.3d 962, 964 (7th Cir. 2017).

         Coleman has met the first two requirements to bring a § 2241 case. First, Mathis is a case of statutory interpretation. Dawkins v. United States, 829 F.3d 549, 551 (7th Cir. 2016) (Because Mathis “is a case of statutory interpretation, ” claims based on Mathis “must be brought, if at all, in a petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2241.”); Jenkins v. United States, No. 16-3441 (7th Cir. Sept. 20, 2016) (“Mathis is not amenable to analysis under § 2244(b) because it announced a substantive rule, not a constitutional one.”). In addition, the petition also meets the second requirement because Mathis is retroactive. Holt v. United States, 843 F.3d 720, 721-22 (7th Cir. 2016) (“substantive decisions such as Mathis presumptively apply retroactively on collateral review”). But the parties disagree regarding whether Coleman's petition satisfies the third requirement for relief under § 2241 - that the error is grave enough to be a miscarriage of justice. For the reasons explained below, Coleman has not suffered a miscarriage of justice and therefore cannot invoke the savings clause of 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e).

         In 2016, the Supreme Court in Mathis clarified the process for determining whether a defendant's prior state-law conviction qualifies as a violent felony under the Armed Career Criminal Act (“ACCA”), 18 U.S.C. § 924(e). 136 S.Ct. at 2248. Coleman was not sentenced under the ACCA, but he ...


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