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Rodriguez v. Butler

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, London

September 15, 2014

SANDRA BUTLER, Warden, Respondent.


DAVID L. BUNNING, District Judge.

Emmanuel Rodriguez is an inmate confined by the Bureau of Prisons ("BOP") in the Federal Correctional Institution-Manchester located in Manchester, Kentucky. Proceeding without counsel, Rodriguez has filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 [R. 1], challenging the 360-month federal sentence which he is currently serving. Rodriguez has paid the $5.00 filing fee. [R. 6]

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

As explained below, the Court will deny Rodriguez's habeas petition because the claims which he asserts cannot be pursued under 28 U.S.C. § 2241.


In April 2006, a federal jury in Missouri convicted Rodriguez of conspiracy to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(A), and 846. See United States v. Emmanuel Rodriguez, et al., No. 3:04-CR-05033-RED-2 (W.D. Mo. 2004). On September 1, 2006, the district court sentenced Rodriguez to a 360-month prison term and to a 5-year term of supervised release. The district court concluded that based on the testimony of various witnesses and co-conspirators, and other evidence presented at trial, Rodriguez either knew, or reasonably should have known, that the drug conspiracy involved at least five kilograms, but less than fifteen kilograms, of methamphetamine. The district court enhanced Rodriguez's sentence under various provisions of the federal sentencing guidelines, finding that he had been a leader, organizer, or manager of the conspiracy, and that he had used a firearm during the commission of a drug trafficking offense. Rodriguez appealed his conviction and enhanced sentence, but both were affirmed. United States v. Rodriguez, 484 F.3d 1006 (8th Cir. 2007).

On September 30, 2008, Rodriguez filed a motion to set aside his conviction and to vacate his sentence under § 2255. Emmanuel Rodriguez v. United States, No. 3:08-CV-05101-RED (W.D. Mo. 2008) [R. 1, therein][1] On February 17, 2009, district court denied Rodriguez's § 2255 motion, finding that none of his Sixth Amendment ineffective assistance of counsel claims had merit. [R. 11, therein] Rodriguez appealed the denial of his § 2255 motion, but the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals denied him a certificate of appealability. [ Id., R. 20, therein; see also Rodriguez v. United States, No. 09-1966 (8th Cir. Nov. 24, 2009)] The mandate issued on January 29, 2010. [ Id., R. 21, therein]


Rodriguez alleges that the district court improperly enhanced his sentence under the federal sentencing guidelines, and in doing so, determined facts as to drug quantity that should have been determined by a jury. Rodriguez alleges that the enhancement of his sentence violates his right to due process of law, guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and his right to have a jury determine any facts that increase the term of his sentence, guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

In support of this argument, Rodriguez cites the United States Supreme Court's decision in Alleyne v. United States, 133 S.Ct. 2151 (2013). In Alleyne, the Supreme Court held that "[a]ny fact that, by law, increases the penalty for a crime is an element' that must be submitted to the jury and found beyond a reasonable doubt." Id. at 2155. Rodriguez contends that because Alleyne applies retroactively and affords his relief from his sentence, that this Court should vacate his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241.


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); see also 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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