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McKinney v. Quintana

United States District Court, Sixth Circuit

September 25, 2013



KAREN K. CALDWELL, District Judge.

Maurice Pernell McKinney is an inmate confined at the Federal Medical Center located in Lexington, Kentucky. Proceeding without an attorney, McKinney has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, challenging his conviction and sentence for drug and money laundering offenses. [R. 1]

The Court conducts an initial review of habeas corpus petitions. 28 U.S.C. § 2243; Alexander v. Northern Bureau of Prisons, 419 F.App'x 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 pursuant to Rule 1(b)). The Court evaluates McKinney'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 McKinney's factual allegations as true, and liberally 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 relief because McKinney may not assert his claims in a habeas corpus proceeding under § 2241.


On March 2, 2004, a federal grand jury in Florida handed down a five-count superseding indictment against McKinney, charging him with committing various drug and firearm offenses. United States v. McKinney, No. 4:04-CR-3-RH-WCS-2 (N.D. Fla. 2004) [R. 18, therein] In April 2004, McKinney pleaded guilty to Count 5 of the superseding indictment (possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1) and 924(e)). [R. 38, therein] McKinney later pleaded guilty to two other counts of the superseding indictment: Count 2 (possession with intent to distribute cocaine base, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(C), and Count 3 (possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug-trafficking offense, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 924(c)(1)(A)(i), (c)(1)(B)(i), and 2). [R. 50, therein]

The district court determined that under 18 U.S.C. § 924(e), McKinney qualified for a mandatory 15-year minimum prison term known as the Armed Career Criminal Act ("ACCA") because he had three prior convictions for serious drug offenses or violent felonies, consisting of two prior convictions for burglary of a structure and one conviction for robbery. The district court therefore increased McKinney's offense level for grouped Counts 2 and 5, and sentenced McKinney to a 180-month prison sentence on those counts, to run concurrently with each other. [R. 65, therein] The district court then imposed a 120-month prison sentence on Count 3 (the § 924(c) offense), to run consecutively to the sentence imposed on Counts 2 and 5. [ Id. ]

McKinney appealed, arguing that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance, and that the district court abused its discretion in denying his motion to withdraw his guilty plea to the § 924(c) offense in Count 3, erred in imposing a mandatory minimum ten-year consecutive sentence based on its finding that he possessed an Intratec 9 millimeter semi-automatic pistol, and violated his Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial, Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296 (2004), and United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005), by considering the federal guidelines when sentencing him. On appeal, McKinney's conviction and sentence were affirmed. United States v. McKinney, 135 F.App'x 313 (11th Cir. 2005) The Eleventh Circuit determined that the district court committed no errors, [1] id., at 319-26, noting that McKinney's 300-month sentence fell below the total range of 330-382 months set by the guidelines. Id. at 325

In November 2005, McKinney filed a motion to vacate his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. [R. 96, therein] McKinney argued that his counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate his non-violent burglary convictions used to enhance his sentence under 18 U.S.C. § 924(e) and U.S.S.G. § 4B1.4, and for erroneously advising him that his prior convictions satisfied the ACCA's enhancement requirements. McKinney claimed that two of his three prior felonies used to enhance his sentence were for burglary of only a "structure, " which he asserted did not count as a violent felony. McKinney further alleged that his counsel did not prepare for sentencing and was unaware of relevant provisions of the federal sentencing guidelines.

The district court denied McKinney's § 2255 motion. See District Court docket sheet at R. 103, therein; United States v. McKinney, Nos. 4:04cr3-RH/WCS, 4:05cv449-RH/WCS, 2007 WL 2083639 (N.D. Fla. July 16, 2007) The district court explained that McKinney was not denied effective assistance of counsel at sentencing because he was properly sentenced as a career offender under § 924(e) and U.S.S.G. § 4B1.4. Id., *5. It also rejected McKinney's claim that his counsel was constitutionally deficient for failing to differentiate the burglary of a structure from the burglary a dwelling by explaining, "While burglary of a structure that is not a dwelling does not count as a crime of violence for career offender sentencing, it does count as a violent felony for sentencing as an armed career criminal under § 924(e) and § 4B1.4." Id.

The district court also rejected as baseless McKinney's allegation that his counsel was not prepared for sentencing and that he failed to object to the imposition of the 120-month consecutive sentence on the § 924(c) offense. Id., at *6. The district court explained that sentence imposed under § 924(c) must run consecutive to any other sentence, "... and is not to be grouped in determining the sentence range of the other offenses. That the sentence would be consecutive was clearly explained and understood by Defendant when he entered the plea." Id. The district court thus concluded that because it correctly applied the Guidelines and § 2K2.4 and imposed a consecutive sentence on the § 924(c) offense, there was nothing to which McKinney's counsel could have objected at sentencing. Id.

McKinney appealed, but the Eleventh Circuit denied his application for a certificate of appealability, stating that he had not made a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right. McKinney v. United States, No. 07-13943-C (11th Cir. Mar. 21, 2008); see also District Court docket sheet at R. 124, therein.


McKinney contends that he is entitled to relief from his sentence under § 2241 because the district court improperly enhanced his sentence under § 924(e). McKinney argues that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to enhance his sentence under § 924(e) and that his prior Florida state court convictions did not qualify as predicate offenses which would have supported an enhancement under § 924(e). McKinney also alleges that by using a preponderance of the evidence standard, the district court violated his Sixth and Eighth Amendment rights and the Blakely when it enhanced his sentence. Finally, McKinney alleges that he pleaded guilty to Count 3 (possession of firearms in furtherance of a ...

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