United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division
MICHAEL D. BONTY, Petitioner,
J.E. KRUEGER Warden, Respondent.
ENTRY DENYING PETITION FOR A WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS
PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 2241 AND
DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT
William T. Lawrence, Judge
Michael Bonty was convicted by a jury in the United States
District Court for the Southern District of Illinois of
transporting a minor in interstate commerce with intent to
engage in criminal sexual activity, three counts of
attempting to intimidate a juvenile witness in violation of
18 U.S.C. § 1512, and one count of being a felon in
possession of a firearm. He seeks relief from his conviction
and sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. For the
following reasons, Bonty's habeas petition must be
convictions were based on a finding that Bonty and an
associate had lured two teenage girls from a mall in St.
Louis, Missouri to a home in East St. Louis, Illinois and
that Bonty had sex with one of the girls and later took them
home. Shortly thereafter, he saw the girls with local law
enforcement and left threatening voicemail messages on one of
the girls' phones. His convictions were affirmed on
appeal. United States v. Bonty, et al, 383 F.3d 575,
578-80 (7th Cir. 2004).
November 2005, Bonty challenged his conviction and sentence
in a motion for relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. That
motion was denied, Bonty v. United States,
3:05-cv-00797 (S.D. Ill.), Dkt. No. 7, and the Seventh
Circuit denied a certificate of appealability. In June 2007,
Bonty filed a motion for relief from judgment pursuant to
Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure arguing
that one of the victims had committed fraud on the Court.
That motion was denied on the merits. Then in September of
2008, Bonty filed a petition for a writ of audita
querela arguing that his sentence was unconstitutional
under United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005),
and the district court dismissed the petition. See Bonty
v. United States, No. 3:08-cv-00652 (S.D. Ill.), Dkt.
No. 1, 4. Bonty filed a third § 2255 motion in June,
2016 under Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2251
(June 26, 2015). However, the Seventh Circuit denied
Bonty's application to file a successive § 2255
motion and his motion was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.
See Bonty v. United States, No. 3:16-cv-00704 (S.D.
Ill.), Dkt. No. 4. Bonty filed two more petitions to file a
successive motion for relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
2255. Both were denied. He then filed this petition for a
writ of habeas corpus.
Standard under § 2241
§ 2255 motion is the presumptive means by which a
federal prisoner can challenge his conviction or sentence.
Davis v. United States, 417 U.S. 333, 343 (1974). A
prisoner is generally limited to bringing only one motion
under § 2255. Id. However, even if he has
already pursued relief under § 2255, a prisoner may be
able to challenge his federal conviction or sentence under 28
U.S.C. § 2241.
“savings clause” in 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e)
authorizes a federal prisoner to file a § 2241 petition
in limited circumstances, that is when § 2255 is
“inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of his
detention.” Poe v. LaRiva, 834 F.3d 770, 772
(7th Cir. 2016); 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e). “Whether
section 2255 is inadequate or ineffective depends on whether
it allows the petitioner ‘a reasonable opportunity to
obtain a reliable judicial determination of the fundamental
legality of his conviction and sentence.'”
Webster v. Daniels, 784 F.3d 1123, 1136 (7th Cir.
2015) (quoting In re Davenport, 147 F.3d 605, 609
(7th Cir. 1998)). The Seventh Circuit has distilled this
analysis into a three-part test:
A petitioner who seeks to invoke the savings clause of §
2255(e) in order to proceed under § 2241 must establish:
(1) that he relies on “not a constitutional case, but a
statutory-interpretation case, so [that he] could not have
invoked it by means of a second or successive section 2255
motion, ” (2) that the new rule applies retroactively
to cases on collateral review and could not have been invoked
in his earlier proceeding, and (3) that the error is
“grave enough . . . to be deemed a miscarriage of
justice corrigible therefore in a habeas corpus proceeding,
” such as one resulting in “a conviction for a
crime of which he was innocent.”
Montana v. Cross, 829 F.3d 775, 783 (7th Cir. 2016)
(citing Davenport, 147 F.3d at 611). The Seventh
Circuit has also explained that § 2255 is inadequate or
ineffective when the petitioner has discovered new evidence
that would reveal that the Constitution categorically
prohibits a certain penalty. Webster, 784 F.3d at
1136. It is the petitioner's burden to establish that his
remedy under § 2255 is inadequate or ineffective.
See Id. at 1141.
seeks relief under § 2241 arguing that his rights were
violated when certain witnesses, including the victim, were
allowed to testify by video and that his convictions for
witness tampering are improper. The respondent argues that
Bonty cannot obtain habeas relief under § 2241 because
he has failed to satisfy the savings clause by showing that
§ 2255 is inadequate or ineffective to test the legality
of his detention. Each of Bonty's claims is discussed
Testimony by Video
first claim is that his due process rights and his rights
under the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment were
violated when “three key witnesses” were allowed
to testify by video. This claim does not satisfy the elements
of the savings clause as set forth by the Seventh Circuit.
First, this is a constitutional claim, not a claim of
statutory interpretation. See Montana, 829 F.3d at
783. Second, even if the rule were one of statutory
interpretation, Bonty does not rely on a new rule that has
been applied retroactively to cases on collateral review.
See Id. He also does not present new evidence that
could not have been presented previously or that would show
that his conviction was unconstitutional. See
Webster, 784 F.3d at 1139. The Seventh Circuit stated
this when it denied his second application for leave to file
a successive motion for relief pursuant to § 2255.
Bonty v. United States, No. 17-2413 (7th Cir. July
18, 2017) (“None of Bonty's ...