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Meeks v. Warden USP

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

February 26, 2019

LLOYD D. MEEKS, Petitioner,
v.
WARDEN USP Terre Haute, Respondent.

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

          Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge

         Lloyd D. Meeks, a federal inmate incarcerated at the U.S. Penitentiary at Terre Haute, Indiana, seeks a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. For the reasons discussed in this Order, his petition for writ of habeas corpus is denied.

         I.

         Section 2241 Standard

          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 Shepherd v. Krueger, 911 F.3d 861, 862 (7th Cir. 2018); Webster v. Daniels, 784 F.3d 1123, 1124 (7th Cir. 2015). Under very limited circumstances, however, a prisoner may employ Section 2241 to challenge his federal conviction or sentence. Webster, 784 F.3d at 1124. This is because “[§] 2241 authorizes federal courts to issue writs of habeas corpus, but § 2255(e) makes § 2241 unavailable to a federal prisoner unless it ‘appears that the remedy by motion [under § 2255] is inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of [the] detention.'” Roundtree v. Krueger, 910 F.3d 312, 313 (7th Cir. 2018). Section 2255(e) is known as the “savings clause.” The Seventh Circuit has held that § 2255 is “‘inadequate or ineffective' when it cannot be used to address novel developments in either statutory or constitutional law, whether those developments concern the conviction or the sentence.” Roundtree, 910 F.3d at 313 (citing e.g., In re Davenport, 147 F.3d 605 (7th Cir. 1998); Brown v. Caraway, 719 F.3d 583 (7th Cir. 2013); Webster v. Daniels, 784 F.3d 1123 (7th Cir. 2015) (en banc)).

         The Seventh Circuit construed the savings clause in the In re Davenport holding:

A procedure for postconviction relief can be fairly termed inadequate when it is so configured as to deny a convicted defendant any opportunity for judicial rectification of so fundamental a defect in his conviction as having been imprisoned for a nonexistent offense.

         In re Davenport, 147 F.3d at 611. The Seventh Circuit has explained that, to fit within the savings clause following Davenport, a petitioner must meet three conditions: “(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); Brown v. Caraway, 719 F.3d 583, 586 (7th Cir. 2013); see also Roundtree, 910 F.3d at 313 (acknowledging circuit split regarding Davenport conditions and holding that relitigation under § 2241 of a contention that was resolved in a proceeding under § 2255 is prohibited unless the law changed after the initial collateral review).

         II. Factual and Procedural Background

          On February 10, 2009, Meeks and his maternal half-brother Douglas Marcel Meeks were charged in the Southern District of Iowa in a Superseding Indictment with conspiracy to distribute at least 50 grams of cocaine base, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 841(b)(1)(A) (Count 1); distributing at least 5 grams of cocaine base (crack cocaine), in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(B), 18 U.S.C. § 2 (Counts 2 and 3); and tampering with a person, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1512 (Counts 4 and 5). United States v. Meeks et al., No. 3:08-cr-00086-JAJ-TJS-2 (S.D. Iowa 2008) (“Crim. Dkt.”), Dkt. 34. The two counts for tampering with a person were dismissed prior to trial. Following a three-day trial, a jury in the Southern District of Iowa found Meeks and his half-brother guilty of conspiracy to distribute at least 50 grams of cocaine base (Count 1) and distributing at least 5 grams of cocaine base (crack cocaine) (Counts 2 and 3). United States v. Meeks, 639 F.3d 522, 525-26 (8th Cir. 2011). Because Meeks had at least two prior felony drug convictions, the court sentenced him to mandatory life imprisonment on the conspiracy count and a concurrent term of 360 months' imprisonment on the individual distribution count. Id.

         The prior felony drug convictions were identified by the government in a § 851 Information. Crim. Dkt. 61. The following prior convictions were:

• On or about February 23, 2007, in Iowa District Court in and for Scott County, Criminal No. FECR295066, a conviction for a controlled substance offense, Iowa Code 124.401(d), and sentenced to five years in prison, a Class D felony under Iowa law.
• On or about November 30, 1998, in Cook County, Illinois, Criminal No. 98CR17889, a conviction for “Other Amount Narcotic Sch I & II, ” a violation of Illinois Chapter 720-570/401(d), and sentenced to seven years in prison, a Class 2 felony under Illinois law;
• On or about October 4, 1994, in Cook County, Illinois, Criminal No. 94CR12499, a conviction for “Amt Narc Sched I/II, ” a violation of Illinois Chapter 720-570-407(b)(2) and sentenced to four years in prison, a Class 1 felony under Illinois law;
• On or about December 10, 1993, in Cook County, Illinois, Criminal No. 93CR0322001, a conviction for “PCS with intent any Amt I, II”, a violation of Illinois Chapter 56.5/1401 and sentenced to 16 months' probation, a felony under Illinois law; and
• On or about December 10, 1993, in Cook County, Illinois, Criminal No. 93CR1838301, a conviction for “PCS Any Other Amt” a violation of Illinois Chapter 56.5/1401 and sentenced to 16 months' probation, a felony under Illinois law.

         In preparation for sentencing, the United States Probation Office prepared a presentence report (PSR). Dkt. 14. The PSR found that Meeks was a career offender, under § 4B1.1(a) based on his prior convictions for cocaine trafficking in ...


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