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Teal v. Quintana

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington

September 9, 2014

DANIEL WILLIAM TEAL, Petitioner,
v.
FRANCISCO QUINTANA, WARDEN, Respondent.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JOSEPH M. HOOD, Senior District Judge.

Daniel William Teal is an inmate confined in the Federal Medical Center located in Lexington, Kentucky. Proceeding without counsel, Teal has filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, challenging his federal drug and firearm convictions. [R. 1]. Teal has paid the $5.00 filing fee. [R. 4].

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 Teal'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), accepts his factual allegations as true, and construes Teals' legal claims in his favor. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007).

Having reviewed the habeas petition, the Court must deny it because Teal cannot pursue his claims under 28 U.S.C. § 2241.

BACKGROUND On March 13, 2008, Teal pleaded guilty in a Missouri federal court to conspiracy to distribute 500 grams of methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(A), and 846, and to carrying a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A)(i). United States v. Daniel William Teal, No. 07-275-CR-W-NKL (W. D. Mo. 2007) [R. 42, therein; see also R. 44, therein (April 1, 2008, Order accepting Teal's guilty plea and adjudicating him guilty)]. On October 23, 2008, the district court sentenced Teal to a 120-month prison term on the drug offense and to a consecutive 60-month prison term on the firearm offense. [R. 61, therein]. Teal did not appeal his sentence.

On November 25, 2009, Teal filed a motion to vacate his sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Daniel W. Teal v. United States of America, No. 09-1014-CV-NKL-P (W.D. Mo., 2009) [R. 1, therein][1] On January 20, 2010, the district court dismissed Teal's § 2255 motion, finding that Teal had until November 6, 2009, in which to file a timely §2255 motion; that Teal's § 2255 motion was time-barred by nineteen days, and that Teal had not shown any extraordinary circumstances to excuse his late filing. [R. 8, therein] Teal appealed, but the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals denied him a certificate of appealability. [R. 16, therein; see also Teal v. United States of America, No. 10-1797 (8th Cir. Jul. 7, 2010)] The Eight Circuit's mandate issued on September 1, 2010. [R. 17, therein]

CLAIMS ASSERTED IN THE § 2241 PETITION

In his § 2241 petition, Teal contends that after his trial, he discovered evidence that "... cast very serious doubt on the credibility of the Government's testifying witness, Brad Smith, " [R. 1, p. 2], and further claims his conviction was based "... on fabricated evidence, that if viewed in light of the new evidence, old and new, it is more than likely than not that no reasonable juror would have found the Petitioner guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.'" [ Id. ]. In support of this claim, Teal cites McQuiggin v. Perkins, 133 S.Ct. 1924 (2013). In McQuiggin, the Supreme Court recognized that the actual innocence gateway to federal habeas review developed in Schlup v. Delo, 513 U.S. 298 (1995) and House v. Bell, 547 U.S. 518 (2006), extends to cases where the petition would otherwise be barred by the expiration of the one-year statute of limitations prescribed by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1998 ("AEDPA").

Teal provides no specific information identifying the new and/or fabricated evidence pertaining to Brad Smith, nor does he identify how much time passed after his trial before he discovered the new evidence pertaining to Smith. Teal alleges that the "Government's suppression of evidence" violated his right to due process of law guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, [R. 1, p. 4], but again, Teal does not identify what specific evidence the government, and/or the Missouri district court, allegedly suppressed.

On page eight of his § 2241 petition, Teal states that the indictment charging him with conspiracy was fundamentally defective because it was based only on information obtained from Brad Smith, a confidential informant for the government. [ Id., p. 8] Teal argues that based on long standing case law, a conspiracy conviction cannot be based solely on information obtained from a confidential informant, and that a lone defendant cannot criminally conspire with an agent or informant engaged by the government. [ Id. ].

Teal therefore contends that he is actually innocent of the drug and firearm offenses of which he was convicted, and that he is entitled to relief from his sentence under § 2241. He seeks an order vacating his conviction and sentence.

DISCUSSION

As a general rule, 28 U.S.C. § 2255 provides the correct avenue to challenge a federal conviction or sentence, whereas a federal prisoner may file a § 2241 petition if he is challenging the execution of his sentence ( i.e., the BOP's calculation of sentence credits or other issues affecting the length of his sentence). See United States v. Peterman, 249 F.3d 458, 461 (6th Cir. 2001); Charles Chandler, 180 F.3d 753, 755-56 (6th Cir. 1999). The Sixth Circuit has explained the difference between the two statutes as follows:

[C]ourts have uniformly held that claims asserted by federal prisoners that seek to challenge their convictions or imposition of their sentence shall be filed in the [jurisdiction of the] sentencing court under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, and that claims seeking to challenge the execution or manner in which the sentence is served shall be filed ...

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