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Gadson v. Hendrix

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

March 26, 2019

ERIC GADSON PETITIONER
v.
DEWAYNE HENDRIX, Warden, FCI - Forrest City RESPONDENT

          RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION

         Instructions

         The following Recommended Disposition (“Recommendation”) has been sent to United States District Judge Brian S. Miller. 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 this Recommendation. By not objecting, you may waive 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, Eric Gadson (“Gadson”), who is incarcerated at the Forrest City, Arkansas, Federal Correctional Institution. Doc. 1. Gadson challenges the validity of a sentence imposed by the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina in United States v. Gadsen, [1] D. S.C. No. 5:00-cr-917 (“Gadson I”). More specifically, he contends that: (1) he was “convicted of violating § 924(c) and sentenced to 240 months' imprisonment for allegedly possessing a machine gun during a second or successive crime of violence;” and (2) based on United States v. O'Brien, 560 U.S. 218, 130 S.Ct. 2169 (2010), he is “actually innocent” of the charged offense.[2] Doc. 1 at 11-12.

         On February 20, 2001, in Gadson I, Gadson pleaded guilty to two counts of bank robbery, violations of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(d) and one count of use of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(e).[3] Gadson I Judgment, Govt.'s Exh. 3, Doc. 7-3. On January 23, 2002, Gadson was sentenced in Gadson I to 48 months for the bank robberies and 240 months for the use of a firearm.[4]

         A review of the docket sheet from Gadson I indicates that Gadson filed a direct appeal, which was dismissed. It also indicates that he attempted, unsuccessfully, to file a Motion to Vacate under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 and a Motion to Reduce Sentence.[5]

         This is Gadson's second § 2241 habeas petition raising the identical claim he asserts in this action. On May 24, 2011, in the Western District of Texas, Gadson filed a § 2241 petition. Gadson v. Bragg, W.D. Tx No. EP-11-cv-215 (“Gadson II”). In Gadson II, the Court ruled that Gadson was not entitled to the benefit of § 2255's savings clause, and thus, that it lacked jurisdiction over Gadson's § 2241 habeas Petition. A copy of the Court's ruling in Gadson II is attached to this Recommendation as Exhibit A.

         On December 10, 2018, Gadson filed the § 2241 habeas action now before this Court. Doc. 1. In his § 2241 petition, he contends, based on United States v. O'Brien, supra, that the 240-month sentence imposed in Gadson I for the use of a firearm conviction should be vacated. Doc. 1. Respondent has filed a Response, Doc. 7, to which Gadson has filed a Reply. Doc. 12. Thus, the issues are joined and ready for resolution.

         II. Discussion

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2244(a), a district court is not “required to entertain an application for a writ of habeas corpus to inquire into the detention” of a federal prisoner if “the legality of such detention has been determined . . . on a prior application for a writ of habeas corpus.” 28 U.S.C. § 2244(a). Courts have interpreted this provision as preventing federal prisoners from using § 2241 to raise claims that were adjudicated, or could have been, in an earlier § 2241 action. See Queen v. Miner, 530 F.3d 253, 255 (3rd Cir. 2008) (finding Petitioner's claims in his § 2241 petition were successive because they “either had been, or could have been, decided in his previous habeas action”); Antonelli v. Warden, U.S.P. Atlanta, 542 F.3d 1348, 1352 (11th Cir. 2008) (holding that “[s]uccessive § 2241 petitions by federal prisoners are subject to threshold dismissal in federal court because” of § 2244(a); see also Phelps v. U.S. Federal Government, 15 F.3d 735, 737-38 (8th Cir.1994) (affirming the district court's application of pre-AEDPA version of § 2244 to find an abuse of the writ in a successive § 2241 petition).

         The court in dismissing Gadson's first § 2241 Petition stated the following:

Gadson agrees he pleaded guilty in South Carolina to using a firearm in connection with a robbery, in violation of § 924(c). Gadson concedes this was a “second or successive violation.” He claims the South Carolina Court sentenced him for the “possession, use, and carrying of a machine gun. The Court, however, did not sentence Gadson to life in prison - the statutory minimum sentence “if the firearm is a machine gun.” The Court did sentence Gadson to 240 months' imprisonment - the mandatory minimum sentence - for a second § 924(c) conviction. “[R]ecidivist provisions . . . are typically sentencing factors [that] can be proved to a judge at sentencing by a preponderance of the evidence.” [citing O'Brien] Thus, Gadson's claim that the Court sentenced him for the “possession, use, and carrying of a machine gun” is simply false. Moreover, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals notes O'Brien has not “decriminalized any of the conduct for which he was convicted. . . . Therefore, the savings clause was not applicable. Gadson may only bring his claim for relief in the district of conviction and sentence.

Gadson II, Doc. 12 (omitting footnotes) (emphasis added).

         Thus, in filing this § 2241 Petition, Gadson attempts to relitigate the same issues he presented and lost in his earlier § 2241 Petition concerning the impact of United States v. O'Brien, supra, and his ...


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