United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, Pikeville
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
K. CALDWELL, CHIEF JUDGE.
Brandon Honeycutt has filed a pro se petition for a
writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 [R.
5] and has paid the filing fee [R. 7]. The Court conducts an
initial review of Honeycutt's petition. 28 U.S.C. §
2243; Alexander v. Northern Bureau of Prisons, 419
F. App'x 544, 545 (6th Cir. 2011). For the reasons set
forth below, the Court must deny relief.
early 2006, Honeycutt committed a long string of separate
burglaries prior to his arrest. As a result, Honeycutt was
convicted in Carter County, Tennessee of numerous counts of
Aggravated Burglary, a violation of Tenn. Code. Ann. §
39-14-403, and on July 2, 2007 he was sentenced to 10 years
his release on parole, in September 2010 state probation
officers found a semiautomatic pistol in his home. A federal
grand jury in Greeneville, Tennessee therefore issued an
indictment charging Honeycutt with being a felon in
possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
922(g). Honeycutt agreed to plead guilty to the sole count in
the indictment. The presentence investigation report
indicated that Honeycutt had committed 49 criminal offenses
during a three-year span prior to his federal offense, many
of them also consisting of burglaries, auto burglaries, and
aggravated burglaries. Because Honeycutt had three or more
prior convictions for violent felonies or serious drug
offenses, in October 2011 the trial court sentenced Honeycutt
to the 180-month minimum term of imprisonment mandated by 18
U.S.C. § 924(e)(1). That sentence was ordered to run
concurrently with two recently-imposed sentences from the
State of Tennessee. United States v. Honeycutt, No.
2: 10-CR-125-JRG (E.D. Tenn. 2010).
did not appeal. However, he filed a motion to vacate his
sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 in which he
alleged that his counsel provided ineffective assistance. In
particular, he alleged that counsel did not file an appeal on
his behalf as requested, an allegation defense counsel
conceded was true in an affidavit. In December 2013, the
trial court therefore granted the motion and reimposed the
same sentence so that Honeycutt could file a timely appeal.
December 2013 Honeycutt, through newly-appointed counsel,
appealed his conviction and sentence. Counsel filed a brief
pursuant to Anders v. California, 386 U.S. 738, 744
(1967), indicating that at best Honeycutt might have an
arguable claim that his prior Tennessee burglary convictions
did not qualify as violent felonies under 18 U.S.C. §
924(e)(2)(B) because they did not involve generic burglary.
The Sixth Circuit disagreed, finding that no less than eight
of Honeycutt's prior burglaries qualified as predicate
offenses. Specifically, his two prior convictions for
aggravated burglary of a residence under Tenn. Code. Ann.
§ 39-14-403 qualified as violent felonies under the
categorical approach. Because the general burglary statute
found in Tenn. Code. Ann. § 39-14-402 was broader than
the generic definition of burglary, the Sixth Circuit applied
the modified categorical approach and considered
Shepard materials to conclude that four of
Honeycutt's prior convictions for burglary actually
involved burglary of a building, and hence qualified as
violent felonies. United States v. Honeycutt, No.
13-6577 (6th Cir. Sept. 12, 2014).
April 2016, Honeycutt filed an initial § 2255 motion
seeking relief from the judgment reimposed in December 2013,
challenging the application of the career offender
enhancement to his sentence under Johnson v. United
States, ___ U.S. ___, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015). While that
motion was pending, the Supreme Court issued its decision in
Mathis v. United States, ___ U.S. ___, 136 S.Ct.
2243 (2016), but Honeycutt made no effort amend his pending
§ 2255 motion to assert a Mathis claim. Four
months later in October 2016 the trial court denied his
§ 2255 motion. The court noted that
Johnson's invalidation of Section
924(e)(2)(B)'s “residual” clause left intact
the “enumerated offenses” clause under which
Honeycutt's sentence was enhanced, and that even after
Johnson Honeycutt's convictions for burglary
still qualified as violent felonies. Honeycutt v. United
States, 2016 WL 5819360, at *3 (E.D. Tenn. Oct. 5, 2016)
(citing United States v. Taylor, 800 F.3d 701, 719
(6th Cir. 2015) (confirming post-Johnson that
Tennessee third-degree burglary constitutes a violent felony
under the categorical approach) and United States v.
Jones, 673 F.3d 497, 505 (6th Cir. 2012) (holding that
Tennessee second-degree burglary constitutes a violent felony
under the categorical approach)).
initial handwritten petition in this Court, Honeycutt asserts
without explanation that Mathis and Descamps v.
United States, ___ U.S. ___, 133 S.Ct. 2276 (2013)
rendered his prior Tennessee burglary convictions no longer
qualifying predicate offenses to support the career offender
enhancement, and that Hill v. Masters, 836 F.3d 591
(6th Cir. 2016) permits him to assert this claim in a §
2241 petition. [R. 1] Honeycutt filed an amended petition [R.
5] as required by prior Order of the Court, but it does
nothing to clarify or expand upon the basis for his claims.
may not assert his claims under Descamps or
Mathis in this § 2241 proceeding because both
decisions were issued before his conviction became final and
while his initial § 2255 motion challenging the judgment
reimposed in 2013 remained pending. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e)
only permits a federal prisoner to challenge his conviction
in a § 2241 petition on a particular ground if a motion
under § 2255 is structurally ineffective to raise it.
Hernandez v. Lamanna, 16 F. App'x 317, 320 (6th
Cir. 2001). Here, Descamps was decided six months
before the judgment in Honeycutt's case was
entered in December 2013. Likewise, Mathis was
decided while his § 2255 motion remained pending before
the trial court. Honeycutt was therefore required to raise
any arguments or claims based upon those decisions before
final judgment was entered, on direct appeal, or in his
initial § 2255 motion. His failure to do any of the
above does not entitle him to relief under § 2241.
Copeland v. Hemingway, 36 F. App'x 793, 795 (6th
addition, for a claim asserted under a newly-announced
interpretation of a federal statute by the Supreme Court to
be cognizable in a § 2241 petition, the holding must be
retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review.
Wooten v. Cauley, 677 F.3d 303, 307-08 (6th Cir.
2012). The Supreme Court in Mathis itself made
abundantly clear that its holding was required by decades-old
precedent and hence did not announce any new rule,
Mathis, 136 S.Ct. at 2257, and the Sixth Circuit has
expressly so held. In re: Conzelmann, 2017 WL
4159184 (6th Cir. 2017).
the decidedly-narrow scope of relief under Section 2241
applies with particular force to challenges not to
convictions, but to the sentence imposed. Peterman,
249 F.3d at 462; Hayes v. Holland, 473 F. App'x
501, 502 (6th Cir. 2012) (“The savings clause of
section 2255(e) does not apply to sentencing claims.”).
In Hill v. Masters, 836 F.3d 591 (6th Cir. 2016),
the Sixth Circuit articulated a very narrow exception to this
general rule, permitting a challenge to a sentence to be
asserted in a Section 2241 petition, but only where (1) the
petitioner's sentence was imposed when the Sentencing
Guidelines were mandatory before the Supreme Court's
decision in United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220
(2005); (2) the petitioner was foreclosed from asserting the
claim in a successive petition under § 2255; and (3)
after the petitioner's sentence became final, the Supreme
Court issued a retroactively applicable decision establishing
that - as a matter of statutory interpretation - a prior
conviction used to enhance his federal sentence no longer
qualified as a valid predicate offense. Hill, 836
F.3d at 599-600. Honeycutt's claim fails to satisfy the
threshold requirement of Hill because he was
sentenced in 2013, nearly a decade after Booker
rendered the Sentencing Guidelines advisory rather than
mandatory. He was also not foreclosed from asserting his
Mathis claim in his initial § 2255 motion by
way of amendment. Honeycutt's claim therefore falls
outside the decidedly narrow exception set forth in
Hill, and his sentencing claim therefore does not
fall within the narrow scope of Section 2255(e)'s savings
clause. Peterman, 249 F.3d at462. His petition must
therefore be denied.
IT IS ORDERED that:
Honeycutt's petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 [R. 1 ] is DENIED.
action is DISMISSED and