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Young v. Quintana

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

October 31, 2017

TERRY B. YOUNG, Petitioner,
v.
FRANCISCO QUINTANA, Warden Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          DANNY C. REEVES, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Petitioner Terry Young is an inmate confined at the Federal Medical Center-Lexington in Lexington, Kentucky. Proceeding without counsel, Young has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. [Record No. 1] This matter is pending for initial screening of Young's petition. 28 U.S.C. § 2243. The Court will deny the relief sought because Young's claims cannot be asserted under 28 U.S.C. § 2241.

         I.

         On April 13, 1998, a federal jury sitting in the Northern District of Illinois found Young guilty of conspiring to possess with intent to deliver narcotics in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846 (Count 1); possession with intent to deliver narcotics in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) (Count 2); and money laundering in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(1)(B)(i) (Count 14). Young was sentenced on September 22, 1999, to a term of life imprisonment on Counts 1 and 2 and a 240-month concurrent sentence on Count 14, to be followed by a 5-year term of supervised release. United States v. Young, No. 1: 97-cr-63-1 (N.D. Ill. 1997).

         The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed Young's conviction on August 29, 2002, but vacated his sentence and remanded the case to the district court for further proceedings. United States v. Mansoori, 304 F.3d 635 (7th Cir. 2002)(“Mansoori I”). With respect to Young's sentence on Count 1, the Seventh Circuit noted that Young was sentenced to a term of life imprisonment based on the district court's finding that he and his co-defendants had conspired to distribute more than 150 kilograms of cocaine. Id. at 657. Although 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A) specified a maximum term of life imprisonment for narcotics offenses involving five or more kilograms of cocaine, pursuant to the Supreme Court's opinion in Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000), which the court noted was decided after Young and his co-defendants were sentenced, “the indictment must allege, and a jury must unanimously find, that the offense involves that threshold amount before the court may sentence a defendant to the life term authorized by section 841(b)(1)(A).” Id. Without a jury finding as to the amount of narcotics involved, the default statutory maximum of 20 years applies, as provided for in 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(C). Id.

         The Seventh Circuit explained that, in this case, the jury was not asked to decide whether the conspiracy involved any particular drug amount. Rather, the district court instructed that the Government need only prove that the conspiracy charge involved a “measurable amount” of narcotics. Id. Because there was no jury finding regarding the amount involved, the Seventh Circuit found that the district court erred in imposing any sentence in excess of the default maximum 20 years on Count 1. However, the issue had not been raised below and the appellate court determined that this sentencing error was not “plain” error because it did not affect “the fairness, integrity, or public reputation of the proceedings below.” Id. at 658. It determined that, in view of the evidence before the jury, which “consistently and overwhelmingly demonstrated that the defendants were distributing cocaine and heroin on a very large scale . . . there can be no doubt that the jury would have found that the offense involved the threshold amount of five kilograms of cocaine and/or one kilogram of heroin as necessary to authorize prison terms of life” for Young and his co-defendants. Id.

         The Seventh Circuit found that, “[p]ursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(B)(ii), the maximum prison term that could ever be imposed on [Count 2] was forty years because the underlying conduct involved more than 500 grams of cocaine but less than five kilograms.” Id. at 658-59. Because the district court had erroneously sentenced Young to a term of life, the case was remanded for re-sentencing on Count 2. However, because the jury had not been asked to determine whether the defendants (including Young) were responsible for distributing anything more than a “measurable amount” of cocaine, the appellate court instructed that, in accordance with Apprendi, “the maximum term that the district court may impose on remand is the default maximum term of twenty years specified in section 841(b)(1)(C).” Id. at 659.

         Young was resentenced following remand on August 3, 2005, to a term of imprisonment of life on Count 1; a term of 20 years on Count 2; and a term of 240 months on Count 14, all to run concurrently, to be followed by a 5-year term of supervised release on each Count, to run concurrently. United States v. Young, No. 1: 97-cr-63-1 (N.D. Ill. 1997). Young again appealed his sentence. United States v. Mansoori, 480 F.3d 514 (7th Cir. 2007)(“Mansoori II”). Young argued on his second appeal that, contrary to the appellate court's prior finding, he had preserved an Apprendi argument at his original sentencing. Thus, he contended that the Seventh Circuit had erred in subjecting his challenged to limited, plain error review. Id. at 517. Notwithstanding this argument, the court of appeals found that, even if Young were correct that he had timely raised an Apprendi argument in the district court, the Apprendi error was harmless for the same essential reason that it found it not to constitute plain error in Young's first appeal. Id. at 523-24.

         The Seventh Circuit further considered whether the district court had treated the Sentencing Guidelines as binding when it re-sentenced Young, to determine whether Young's sentence was inconsistent with the Supreme Court's decision in United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005), and thus entitling Young to a limited remand under United States v. Paladino, 401 F.3d 471 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 546 U.S. 849 (2005), and cert. denied, 546 U.S. 1175 (2006). Id. at 524. The court found that Young was not entitled to a Paladino remand, as he was re-sentenced after Booker was decided and the district court made “clear on the record that it would not sentence Young any differently notwithstanding the advisory nature of the Guidelines.” Id. Simply put, a Paladino remand was unnecessary because the district court clearly understood that it was not bound by the Guidelines. Id.

         Young filed a motion to vacate, set aside or correct sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on April 7, 2008. He raised various arguments, including the Apprendi error that had previously been raised and addressed by the Seventh Circuit. This motion was dismissed by the district court. Thereafter, in 2015, Young filed a motion to set aside this judgment pursuant to Rule 60(b)(4) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. This motion is currently pending in the district court. United States v. Young, No. 1: 08-cv-1999 (N.D. Ill. 2008).

         Pursuant to a joint statement filed by Young and the United States in 2016, the sentencing court reduced Young's previously-imposed life sentence on Count 1 to 360 months imprisonment pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) and retroactive amendment 782 to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. United States v. Young, No. 1: 97-cr-63-1 (N.D. Ill. 1997).

         Young now seeks relief from in this Court via a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. [Record No. 1] His petition relies upon two main arguments: (1) that his life sentence is invalid as a result of faulty jury instructions in which the jury was informed by the court that drug quantity was not an element of the offense, thereby violating Young's Fifth Amendment due process rights and Sixth Amendment rights, as well as his Eight Amendment rights to be free from cruel and unusual punishment because he remains incarcerated due to the faulty jury instructions;[1] and (2) that he is entitled to proceed in this case pursuant to the “savings clause” of 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e), as the United States Supreme Court's decisions in McQuiggin v. Perkins, 569 U.S. 383 (2013), Burrage v. United States, U.S., 134 S.Ct. 881 (2014), Southern Union Co. v. United States, 567 U.S. 343 (2012), Peugh v. United States, 569 U.S. 530 (2013), and Alleyne v. United States, U.S., 133 S.Ct. 2151 (2013), all made substantial changes in the law and were made retroactive by the United States Supreme Court. However, Young is not entitled to relief because his § 2241 petition is an impermissible attack on his underlying sentence.

         II.

         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). A petition will be denied “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 Young's petition under a more lenient standard because he is not represented by an attorney. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). The Court accepts the ...


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