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Parker v. Holland

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

July 21, 2015

RANDALL PARKER, Petitioner,
v.
J.C. HOLLAND, Warden, Respondent.

MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

GREGORY F. VAN TATENHOVE, District Judge.

Petitioner Randall Parker is an inmate confined by the Bureau of Prisons ("BOP") in the United States Penitentiary-McCreary, in Pine Knot, Kentucky. Parker has filed a pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 [R. 1], challenging the aggregated life sentence which he is currently serving. Parker has paid the $5.00 filing fee. [R. 2]

In conducting an initial review of habeas petitions under 28 U.S.C. § 2243, the Court must deny the relief sought "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)). Because Parker is not represented by an attorney, the Court evaluates his petition under a more lenient standard. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Burton v. Jones, 321 F.3d 569, 573 (6th Cir. 2003). Thus, at this stage of the proceedings, the Court accepts Parker's factual allegations as true and liberally construes his legal claims in his favor.

The Court has reviewed the petition but for the reasons set forth below, determines that that it cannot grant the relief which Parker seeks, an Order releasing him from federal custody. The Court will therefore deny Parker's § 2241 petition and dismiss this proceeding.

I

A

Between March 2002 and December 2003, a federal grand jury in Tennessee issued an indictment and two superseding indictments charging Parker and co-defendants Kenneth Kimball and Steve Corlew with committing various drug, firearms, and money-laundering offenses stemming from their participation in a vast cocaine-trafficking conspiracy. United States v. Randall Parker, et al., No. 3:02-CR-53-1 (M. D. Tenn.) [R. 1; R. 69; R. 225; R. 338, therein] The case proceeded to trial and in January 2004, the jury found the defendants guilty of several counts of conspiracy to import drugs, illegal possession with intent to distribute, illegal firearms possession, conspiracy and money laundering, solicitation to commit a crime of violence, and witness tampering. [R. 388, therein] Kimball was sentenced to consecutive life sentences plus 15 years; Parker was convicted of many of the same conspiracies and drug charges as Kimball, but not for soliciting violence. On June 4, 2004, the district court sentenced Parker to life imprisonment and to lesser prison terms, which were ordered to run concurrently with his life sentence. [R. 525, therein]

On appeal, the Sixth Circuit rejected the defendants' various challenges to the district court's Guidelines calculations and affirmed the convictions, but vacated and remanded Parker's and Kimball's sentences for reconsideration under the advisory guidelines in light of United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005), which was issued after the sentences had been imposed. United States v. Kimball, 194 F.Appx. 373 (6th Cir. 2006). On remand, the district court applied Booker, but imposed the same sentence on Parker that it had imposed in June 2004. See R. 733, therein (June 8, 2007 Amended Judgment); R. 734, therein.

On appeal, the Sixth Circuit affirmed the Amended Judgment. United States v. Randall R. Parker, 341 F.Appx. 122 (6th Cir. 2009). The court explained that in its 2006 ruling, it had rejected all of Parker's Guidelines-range challenges and affirmed the district court's Guidelines calculations, and had remanded in light of Booker for the sole reason of allowing the district court to determine if it would have imposed a different sentence had the Guidelines range been advisory, rather than mandatory, when it originally sentenced the defendants. Parker, 341 F.Appx. at 124. The Sixth Circuit stated, "We vacated Parker's sentence to allow the district court to reconsider it post- Booker, but that did not invite the district court to revisit matters on which we had already ruled. The district court thus correctly did not reexamine Parker's challenges to his Guidelines range, and it properly interpreted the scope of our remand." [ Id. ]

The Sixth Circuit concluded that in his second appeal, Parker was again raising the same Sixth Amendment challenges to the district court's Guidelines calculations which he had previously and unsuccessfully asserted in his first appeal. [ Id. ][1] The court refused to address Parker's sentencing challenges, explaining, "Our holdings became the law of the case, and we therefore do not reconsider Parker's Guidelines challenges here. See United States v. Mendez, 498 F.3d 423, 426 (6th Cir. 2007)." [ Id. ] Finally, the Sixth Circuit refused to entertain two new sentencing challenges which Parker had not raised in his first appeal, concluding that he had waived those arguments. [ Id. ] The United States Supreme Court subsequently denied Parker's petition for writ of certiorari. [R. 776, therein; Randall R. Parker v. United States, 131 S.Ct. 312 (Oct, 4, 2010)]

In August and September 2014, Parker filed several pro se motions in the district court, seeking either a sentence reduction under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2), or to be re-sentenced. [R. 821; R. 830; R. 832, therein] Parker based his requests on the then-proposed Amendment 782 to the Sentencing Guidelines, arguing that if Amendment 782 were implemented, it would revise the Drug Quantity Table in USSG § 2D1.1 and reduce by two points the offense level applicable to many drug trafficking offenses. Parker was appointed counsel, who soon thereafter filed a motion and brief in support of a sentence reduction under § 3582 (c)(2) [R. 841, therein], to which the government objected [R. 842, therein]. Parker's counsel filed a Reply to the government's response. [R. 843]

On February 3, 2015, the district court entered an Order denying Parker's motion seeking a sentence reduction under § 3582 (c)(2). [R. 845, therein] The district court explained that even though Amendment 782 was retroactive and caused a two-point reduction of Parker's total offense level (from 51 to 49), the reduction did not benefit Parker because the applicable guideline range for total offense level 43 (and above) is life imprisonment, such that the twopoint reduction did not effectively reduce Parker's sentence [ Id. at 3, therein] The district stated, "Because the Defendant's guideline range has not subsequently been lowered, ' he is not entitled to a reduction in his sentence under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2)." Id. Parker appealed the denial of his § 3582 (c)(2) motion, and that appeal is currently pending in the Sixth Circuit as Case No. 15-5386.

B

On April 4, 2011, Parker filed in the district court a motion to vacate his sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Randall R. Parker v. United States, No. 3:11-0323 (M. D. Tenn. 2011). [R. 1, therein.] In his § 2255 motion and subsequent amendments thereto, Parker argued that: (1) in numerous instances, he had received ineffective assistance of both trial and appellate counsel; (2) the district court violated his Sixth Amendment rights by applying certain enhancements to his sentence; and (3) the district court should have granted a judgment of acquittal on Count Fifteen of the Indictment (a drug trafficking charge)[2] because it failed to state an offense.

On August 3, 2012, the district court entered a 41 page Memorandum in which it denied Parker's § 2255 motion. [R. 83, therein; Parker v. United States, No. 3:11-CV-0323, 2012 WL 3202221 (M. D. Tenn. Aug. 3, 20120).] The district court thoroughly analyzed, but rejected, Parker's thirty (30) individual claims assailing the performance of his trial counsel, finding that none of those claims had merit. [ Id. at 7-39; Parker, 2012 WL 320221, at **4-21] The district court also analyzed and rejected Parker's claim challenging the adequacy of his appellate counsel, finding that it, too, lacked substantive merit. [ Id. at 39-40; Parker, 2012 WL 320221, at *21-22].

The district court next addressed, but dismissed, Parker's Sixth Amendment claim challenging the enhancement of his sentence under the federal sentencing guidelines. [ Id. at 40-41; Parker, 2012 WL 320221, at *22] On that issue, the district court explained that Parker had previously and unsuccessfully asserted the very same sentencing claim on direct appeal, but that the Sixth Circuit had rejected that claim on the merits, because Parker had "...received a guidelines sentence of life which was recommended for his drug charges alone, " and therefore, ...


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