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Williams v. Sepanek

United States District Court, Sixth Circuit

July 9, 2013

CLEVON WILLIAMS, Petitioner,
v.
MICHAEL SEPANEK, WARDEN, Respondent.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

HENRY R. WILHOIT, Jr., District Judge.

Clevon Williams is an inmate confined in the Prison Camp located on the campus of the Federal Correctional Institution in Ashland, Kentucky. Williams has filed a pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241, challenging his federal drug conviction and life sentence. Williams has 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 Williams' 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 Williams' 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 at this time, Williams has not stated grounds entitling him to relief under § 2241.

BACKGROUND

The Court can not obtain complete information about Williams' criminal conviction because it predated the advent of the federal court system's online PACER database. However, based on the allegations in Williams' § 2241 petition and information from his subsequent court proceedings which can be accessed through PACER, it appears that Williams was convicted in an Indiana federal court of possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of crack cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and (b)(1), and being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g). United States v. Williams, No. 1:06-CR-00106-LJM-KPF (S. D. Ind. 2006) ("the Sentencing Court").[1] On February 9, 2007, the Sentencing Court imposed a 151-month prison sentence on Williams. On December 7, 2011, Williams filed a motion to reduce his sentence under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) [R. 4, therein], and on February 13, 2012, the Sentencing Court reduced his sentence to 120 months. [R. 6, therein] Williams appealed, but on December 18, 2013, his 120-month sentence was affirmed. [R. 15, therein]

On May 23, 2013, Williams filed a second motion in the Sentencing Court seeking a reduction of his sentence under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2). [R. 16, therein] In his second § 3582 motion, Williams asked the Sentencing Court to re-sentence him in accordance with the decision recently rendered by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in United States v. Cornelius Demorris Blewett, __ F.3d ___, 2013 WL 2121945 (6th Cir. May 17, 2013). [ Id., pp. 2-3, therein]

In Blewett, the Sixth Circuit addressed the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, which lowered the ratio between crack and powder cocaine offenses from 100-to-1 to a more lenient 18-to-1 ratio for sentencing purposes, and thereby reduced sentences for crack cocaine related drug offenses, including the mandatory minimum sentences. See 21 U.S.C. § 841(b) (increasing the amount of crack from 50 grams to 280 grams to trigger the 10-year mandatory minimum and from 5 grams to 28 grams to trigger the five-year mandatory minimum). The Sixth Circuit held that Congress intended that the sentence reduction provisions of the Fair Sentencing Act should apply retroactively to all defendants, including those sentenced before its passage. Id., at *6. The Sixth Circuit Court specifically rejected the Government's objection that § 3582(c)(2) prohibits the courts from altering a mandatory minimum sentence, stating,

"[T]he statutory minimums have been reduced and incorporated into the guidelines by the Sentencing Commission. The old, repealed discriminatory minimums are no longer a part of the operation of the sentencing system. They should not be used to foreclose lowering the defendant's applicable guideline range.' We should not presume that the Sentencing Commission would point out to Congress the racially discriminatory nature of the old crack guidelines, and request new mandatory minimums around which to rebuild the new retroactive guidelines, and then decide to retain the old crack minimums as the "guideline sentence" under § 5G1.1(b)."

Id. at *9 (citing 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2)).

As of the date of the entry of this Memorandum Opinion and Order, the Sentencing Court has not ruled on Williams' second § 3582(c)(2) motion.

On May 24, 2013, Williams filed the instant § 2241 proceeding in this Court, seeking the same relief that he had requested the day before in the second § 3582(c)(2) motion which he filed in the Sentencing Court, i.e., a new sentence under the lower crack cocaine ratios set forth in the Fair Sentencing Act based on Blewett.

DISCUSSION

Williams is not challenging any aspect of the execution of his sentence, such as the computation of sentence credits or parole eligibility, issues which fall under the purview of Section 2241. United States v. Jalili, 925 F.2d 889, 894 (6th Cir. 1999). Instead, Williams alleges that the Sentencing court is required to re-calculate and further reduce his 120-month sentence based on Blewett. Williams is therefore ...


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