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Grady v. Krueger

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

March 19, 2019

TRAVIS NICODEMUS GRADY, Petitioner,
v.
J.E. KRUEGER Warden, Respondent.

          ORDER DISCUSSING MOTION FOR RELIEF PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 2241

          Hon. William T. Lawrence, Senior Judge.

         Petitioner Travis Nicodemus Grady seeks a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 arguing that his counsel was ineffective in advising him regarding his plea agreement, that his plea agreement is not a valid contract, and that he is actually innocent. For the following reasons, his petition is denied.

         I. Factual Background

         On January 21, 2010, Grady was indicted in the Western District of Virginia with distributing heroin resulting in serious bodily injury, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(C). United States v. Grady, 5:10-cr-00002-GEC-1 (Crim. Dkt.), Dkt. 1. Because the distribution offense had resulted in serious bodily injury, Grady's sentence was subject to the enhancement under § 841(b)(1)(C), which requires a mandatory minimum term of 20 years' imprisonment and a maximum penalty of life. PSR ¶ 64.

         On March 25, 2010, the United States and Grady entered into a plea agreement pursuant to Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. Grady agreed to plead guilty to count one. Crim. Dkt. 43, 49. On October 6, 2010, Grady was sentenced to 262 months' imprisonment. Crim. Dkt. 52, 53. On November 5, 2014, Grady filed a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Crim. Dkt. 60.

         Grady raised several claims in his § 2255 petition. First, he argued that his sentence should not have been enhanced under § 841(b)(1)(C) because the government failed to prove the heroin he distributed met the standard for causation of the victim's injury announced by United States v. Burrage, 571 U.S. 204 (2014). Crim. Dkt. 60. Next, Grady argued that his trial counsel was ineffective in two ways: (a) in advising him to plead guilty to the enhancement for serious bodily injury resulting from the distribution of heroin, and (b) in failing to keep his best interest at heart because trial counsel was distracted by personal matters. Id. The district court addressed the merits of Grady's claims, dismissed Grady's petition as untimely, and denied a certificate of appealability because Grady failed to make a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right as required by 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c). United States v. Grady, 2015 WL 4773236 (W.D. Va. August 12, 2015). Grady appealed the district court's decision, but the Fourth Circuit denied a certificate of appealability and dismissed Grady's appeal. United States v. Grady, 627 Fed.Appx. 193 (4th Cir. 2015). Grady filed a motion for reconsideration, but the district court denied Grady's motion to reopen his prior § 2255 motion. Crim. Dkt. 91, 92.

         Following the court's denial to reconsider his § 2255 motion, Grady filed a second § 2255 motion. In his second § 2255, Grady again asserted his Burrage and ineffective assistance of counsel claims and argued that his original § 2255 motion was not untimely. Crim. Dkt. 94. The district court found Grady's § 2255 motion to be successive under § 2255(h), denied a certificate of appealability because Grady failed to make a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right, and dismissed Grady's motion without prejudice. Crim. Dkt. 96.

         Grady then filed the present petition for a writ of habeas corpus. The United States has responded, and Grady has not replied. The petition is now ripe for ruling.

         II. Standard under § 2241

          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, 784 F.3d at 1124.

         The Seventh Circuit construed the savings clause in 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 ...


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