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McCauley v. Sepanek

United States District Court, Sixth Circuit

May 9, 2013

THOMAS L. McCAULEY, Plaintiff,
MICHAEL SEPANEK, Warden, Respondent.


HENRY R. WILHOIT, Jr., District Judge.

Thomas L. McCauley ("McCauley") is an inmate confined in Federal Correctional Institution ("FCI") in Ashland, Kentucky. Proceeding without an attorney, McCauley has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, challenging his federal conviction and sentence. [R. 1] McCauleyhas paid the $5.00 filing fee.

The Court conducts an initial review of habeas corpus petitions. 28 U.S.C. § 2243; Alexander v. Northern Bureau of Prisons, 419 F.Appx. 544, 545 (6th Cir. 2011). The Court must deny the petition "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)).

The Court evaluates McCauley's petition under a more lenient standard because he is not represented by an attorney. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) ; Burton v. Jones, 321 F.3d 569, 573 (6th Cir. 2003). At this stage, the Court accepts McCauley's factual allegations as true, and construes his legal claims in his favor. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007). Having reviewed the petition, the Court must deny it because McCauley can not pursue his claims in a habeas corpus proceeding under § 2241.


The Court can not obtain complete information about McCauley's criminal conviction because it predated the advent of federal court system's online PACER database.[1] However, based on the allegations in McCauley's § 2241 petition and information from McCauley's subsequent court proceedings which can be accessed through PACER, it appears that on September 12, 2006, a federal grand jury in Ohio returned a two-count indictment against McCauley charging him with possession of a firearm by a felon in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(I) and possession of cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 844. United States v. McCauley, No. 3:06-CR-00154-TBS-MJN-2 (S. D. Ohio. 2006) Two months later, the government filed a notice of its intention to seek enhanced sentencing under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), [2] based on McCauley's prior convictions.

On March 12, 2007, McCauley filed a motion to suppress evidence recovered during the search of both his residence and vehicle. The district court held an evidentiary hearing the following day and denied McCauley's suppression motion. On March 15, 2007, McCauley entered conditional guilty pleas to both counts of the indictment pursuant to a plea agreement which preserved his right to appeal the suppression ruling. Pursuant to an enhancement under the ACCA, McCauley was sentenced to a mandatory 15 year term of imprisonment on the § 922(g) firearm offense, followed by five years of supervised release, and to time served on the cocaine possession offense. McCauley timely appealed, but the Sixth Circuit affirmed his conviction and sentence. United States v. McCauley, 548 F.3d 440 (6th Cir. 2008), cert. denied, 129 S.Ct. 1601 (2009).

Following his appeal, McCauley filed a motion to vacate his sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 1651(a) and 28 U.S.C. § 2255 [D. E. No. 88, therein] and thereafter supplemented his motion several times. McCauley alleged that the police arrested him without probable cause and searched his vehicle without either probable cause or lawful consent; that his ACCA-enhanced prison sentence constituted double punishment for one offense and thereby violated the Fifth Amendment's Double Jeopardy Clause; that his conviction violated both his Second Amendment right to possess a firearm and his Fifth Amendment right to due process of law; and that because he received ineffective assistance of counsel in violation of his rights guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment right, his guilty plea was unintelligent and involuntary and should be set aside.

On August 11, 2011, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation ("R & R") recommending the dismissal of McCauley' § 2255 motion. [D. E. No. 107, therein] The Magistrate Judge determined that none of McCauley's various constitutional challenges to his conviction and sentence were meritorious. [ Id., pp. 4-9] McCauley did not file objections to the R & R.

On November 11, 2011, the district court adopted the R & R in its entirety [D.E. No. 108, therein], but after McCauley filed a motion stating that he had never been served with a copy of the R & R and had no knowledge of its filing [D. E. No. 109, therein], the district court granted McCauley's motion for reconsideration and set aside the judgment denying his § 2255 motion. [D. E. No. 110, therein] McCauley then filed Objections to the R & R, essentially reiterating the claims he had previously alleged in his § 2255 motion and amendments thereto. [D. E. No. 112, therein] The government did not respond to McCauley's Objections.

On February 14, 2012, the district court adopted the R & R and denied McCauley's § 2255 motion, concluding that all four of his constitutional claims lacked merit. [D. E. No. 113, therein] The court rejected McCauley's claim that his ACCA-enhanced sentence violated the Double Jeopardy Clause, noting that the Sixth Circuit has consistently held that the Double Jeopardy Clause does not prohibit additional punishment under the ACCA if it is proven that a defendant had been convicted of offenses of a certain nature. [ Id., pp. 6-7] The court further determined that the Magistrate Judge had properly concluded that McCauley failed to demonstrate that his trial counsel had rendered ineffective assistance during his criminal proceeding. [ Id., pp. 8-9 (citing the R& R, D. E. No.107, pp. 5-9, therein)]

McCauley appealed. [D. E. No. 114, therein] On September 21, 2012, the Sixth Circuit denied McCauley's application for a certificate of appealability, finding that he had not made a substantial showing that either his Second or Fifth Amendment rights had been violated. [D. E. No.117, therein] On January 7, 2013, the Sixth Circuit denied McCauley's petition for rehearing. [D. E. No. 118, therein]


McCauley asserts four basic claims in his § 2241 petition. First, McCauley alleges that he is "actually innocent" of being an armed career criminal because his trial counsel rendered ineffective legal assistance to him during various stages of his federal criminal proceeding. Specifically, McCauley alleges that his trial counsel failed to adequately investigate his criminal history and failed to object to the sentencing court's treating two of his prior aggravated robbery convictions as separate and distinct offenses for enhancement under the ACCA. [D. E. No. 1-1, pp. 5-9] McCauley's allegation of ineffective ...

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