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Rogers v. Beasley

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

November 16, 2017



         The following Recommended Disposition (“Recommendation”) has been sent to United States District D. P. Marshall, Jr. You may file written objections to all or part of this Recommendation. If you do so, those objections must: (1) specifically explain the factual and/or legal basis for your objection; and (2) be received by the Clerk of this Court within fourteen (14) days of the entry of this Recommendation. The failure to timely file objections may result in waiver of the right to appeal questions of fact.

         I. Introduction

         Pending before the Court is a 28 U.S.C. § 2241 Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus filed by Petitioner, Raymond Rogers (“Rogers”), who is currently incarcerated at the Forrest City, Arkansas, Federal Correctional Institution. Doc. 1. In the petition, Rogers challenges a jury conviction and sentence imposed by the United States District Court for the District of Kansas (Wichita Division). United States v. Rogers, 6:13-1448-JTM (“Rogers I”). The relevant facts supporting Roger's collateral attack on his federal sentence are set forth below.

         On December 1, 2011, a jury in Rogers I found Rogers guilty of bank robbery, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, and felon in possession of a firearm. On April 16, 2012, Rogers was sentenced to 234 months imprisonment.

         Rogers appealed. On April 5, 2013, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed. United States v. Raymond Rogers, No. 12-3125 (10th Cir. April 5, 2013) (unpublished). The Tenth Circuit rejected Rogers' arguments that the district court improperly: (1) denied his motion for judgment of acquittal; (2) enhanced his base offense level; and (3) denied his right to allocution.

         On December 2, 2013, Rogers filed a Motion to Vacate or Set Aside the Sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Rogers I, Doc. No. 146. Rogers asserted multiple claims of ineffective assistance of counsel and trial court error. On December 9, 2014, all of Roger's claims were found to be without merit, and his § 2255 petition was dismissed. On December 23, 2014, Rogers was denied a certificate of appealability.[1]

         Rogers I, Doc. Nos. 162 and 164.

         On November 13, 2017, Rogers filed the § 2241 habeas action now before this Court. In his § 2241 petition, he argues: (1) the Rogers I district court was divested of jurisdiction when it dismissed the first superseding indictment on the Government's motion and permitted the Government to proceed to trial on the original indictment;[2] (2) the Rogers I district court “impermissibly amended” the indictment by its jury instructions; and (3) his counsel was ineffective at trial and on appeal.

         II. Discussion

         In conducting an initial review of Rogers' habeas corpus petition, this Court may summarily deny relief “if it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief.” Rule 4 of the Rules Governing § 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts (applicable to § 2241 petitions under Rule 1(b)); 28 U.S.C. § 2243. As part of that initial review, the Court is also obligated to decide whether it has subject matter jurisdiction. See Northport Health Servs. v. Rutherford, 605 F.3d 483, 490 (8th Cir. 2010) (“federal courts are obligated to consider lack of subject matter jurisdiction sua sponte”).

         Jurisdiction over a federal prisoner's collateral attack on his conviction or sentence is governed by the well-recognized distinction between claims that attack the validity of a federal conviction or sentence, and claims that challenge the execution of a federal sentence. As a general rule, collateral challenges to a federal conviction or sentence must be raised in a motion to vacate filed in the sentencing court under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, rather than by a habeas petition filed in the court of incarceration under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Lopez-Lopez v. Sanders, 590 F.3d 905, 907 (8th Cir. 2010); Abdullah v. Hedrick, 392 F.3d 957, 959 (8th Cir. 2004). 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 limited exception to this rule is found in the “savings clause” of § 2255(e), which permits a federal court in the district of incarceration to entertain a § 2241 habeas petition challenging the validity of a conviction or sentence only if the remedy under § 2255 is “inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of his detention.” Hill v. Morrison, 349 F.3d 1089, 1091 (8th Cir. 2003). Stated differently, the court of incarceration has subject matter jurisdiction over a collateral attack on a conviction or sentence rendered by another district court only if the remedies in the sentencing district are inadequate or ineffective. A petitioner bears the burden of demonstrating that the § 2255 remedy is inadequate or ineffective. Lopez-Lopez, 590 F.3d at 907; Hill, 349 F.3d at 1091.

         Rogers contends that his § 2255 remedy was “inadequate or ineffective” because his sentence is not merely erroneous, but was absolutely null and void from inception. Thus, Rogers argues, the Rogers I trial court lacked jurisdiction “from the indictment stage to sentencing” rendering the criminal proceeding a nullity that renders habeas relief “the only appropriate remedy.” Doc. 1 at 7. This argument fails.

         All of Rogers' proposed claims challenge the validity of his federal convictions. This is obvious both from the nature of his claims and his requested relief - “release from his current unlawful imprisonment.” Doc. 1 at 2. All of the claims he now asserts, including a challenge to the Rogers I trial court's jurisdiction, could and should have been asserted on direct appeal or in the sentencing court under § 2255. The Eighth Circuit has consistently held that the “savings clause” may not be invoked to raise an issue under § 2241 which could have been, or actually was, raised in a direct appeal ...

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