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Donnell v. Rivera

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Eastern Division

April 1, 2015

RAPHAEL DONNELL Reg. #XXXXX-XXX, Petitioner,
v.
CV. RIVERA, Warden FCI-Forrest City, Respondent.

PROPOSED FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION

J. THOMAS RAY, Magistrate Judge.

INSTRUCTIONS

The following Proposed Findings and Recommended Disposition ("Recommendation") has been sent to United States District Judge J. Leon Holmes. Any party may file written objections to this Recommendation. Objections must be specific and include the factual or legal basis for disagreeing with the Recommendation. An objection to a factual finding must specifically identify the finding of fact believed to be wrong and describe the evidence that supports that belief.

An original and one copy of the objections must be received in the office of the United States District Clerk within fourteen (14) days of this Recommendation. If no objections are filed, Judge Holmes can adopt this Recommendation without independently reviewing all of the evidence in the record. By not objecting, you may also waive any right to appeal questions of fact.

Mail your objections to:

I. Background

Pending before the Court is a 28 U.S.C. § 2241 Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus filed by Raphael Donnell ("Donnell"), an inmate in the Federal Correctional Institution in Forrest City, Arkansas. Doc. 1. Respondent, C.V. Rivera, has filed a Response, and Donnell has filed a Reply. Docs. 8 & 11. Thus, the issues are joined and ready for disposition.

In February 2008, a jury found Donnell guilty, in the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri, of conspiring to distribute a controlled substance (MDMA). United States v. Donnell, W.D. Mo. No. 4:06cr00408-24-GAF, at docs. 665-83. [1] On July 9, 2008, the Court sentenced him to 240 months of imprisonment. Doc. 8-1. On March 4, 2010, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Donnell's conviction and sentence.[2] United States v. Donnell, et al., 596 F.3d 913 (8th Cir. 2010), cert. denied, 131 S.Ct. 994 (2011).

On January 3, 2012, Donnell filed a 28 U.S.C. § 2255 motion to vacate, set aside or correct his sentence with the sentencing court. See W.D. Mo. No. 4:12cv00056-GAF, at doc.1 (Doc. 8-3). Several of his claims concerned the sentencing court's determination that he was a career offender. On May 9, 2012, the Court entered an order denying § 2255 relief. Doc. 8-2. On August 26, 2014, the Eighth Circuit affirmed the trial court's decision.[3] Donnell v. United States, 765 F.3d 817 (8th Cir. 2014), cert. denied, 2015 WL 461554 (U.S. Mar. 2, 2015).

On December 18, 2014, Donnell initiated this § 2241 habeas action, arguing that the sentencing court improperly applied a career offender enhancement to his sentence under the United States Sentencing Guidelines.[4] He requests this Court to vacate his sentence and order resentencing, without the career offender status enhancement.

II. Discussion

A challenge to the lawfulness of a federal conviction and sentence generally must be made in the sentencing court through a 28 U.S.C. § 2255 motion to vacate, set aside or correct. Lopez-Lopez v. Sanders, 590 F.3d 905, 907 (8th Cir. 2010); see 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a) (a federal prisoner "may move the court which imposed the sentence" to vacate, set aside or correct the sentence). Because a § 2255 motion attacks the validity of the conviction or sentence, it is "a further step in the movant's criminal case, " and subject matter jurisdiction lies with the court which convicted and sentenced him. DeSimone v. Lacy, 805 F.2d 321, 323 (8th Cir. 1986); Thompson v. Smith, 719 F.2d 938, 940 (8th Cir. 1983).

A federal court in the district of incarceration can entertain a 28 U.S.C. § 2241 habeas petition challenging the validity of a conviction or sentence only if " it also appears that the remedy by [§ 2255] motion [to the sentencing court] is inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of his detention. " § 2255(e) (emphasis added). A petitioner has the burden of demonstrating the inadequacy or ineffectiveness of seeking § 2255 relief from the sentencing court. Lopez-Lopez, 590 F.3d at 907. The Eighth Circuit has made it clear that the "inadequate or ineffective remedy" exception is a "narrowly-circumscribed safety valve.'" United States ex rel. Perez v. Warden, FMC Rochester, 286 F.3d 1059, 1061-62 (8th Cir. 2002).

While Donnell may be barred from filing a § 2255 motion due to procedural barriers, this does not render that remedy inadequate or ineffective so as to permit utilization of § 2241. Lopez-Lopez, 590 F.3d at 907. Specifically, the § 2255 remedy is not inadequate or ineffective merely because: (1) the claim already has been raised and rejected in a § 2255 proceeding; (2) the sentencing court misunderstood or failed to fully or adequately address his § 2255 claim; (3) the petitioner has been denied permission to file a second or successive § 2255 motion; or (4) a new § 2255 motion would be barred as successive or untimely. Id.; Hill v. Morrison, 349 F.3d 1089, 1091 (8th Cir. 2003); see § 2255(f) (federal defendant ...


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