United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
K. CALDWELL, CHIEF JUDGE.
McCoy is a federal prisoner who was recently confined at the
United States Penitentiary - Big Sandy in Inez, Kentucky.
Proceeding without a lawyer, McCoy has filed a petition for a
writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. [R.
1]. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will deny
1990, a federal grand jury indicted McCoy, charging him with
conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute 50 grams
or more of cocaine base and possession with the intent to
distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine base. Shortly
thereafter, the Government filed a notice pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 851 indicating that McCoy had multiple prior
felony drug convictions and thus was subject to a mandatory
minimum sentence of life in prison pursuant to 21 U.S.C.
§ 841. One year later, a jury convicted McCoy of the
charges against him. The trial court then sentenced McCoy to
life in prison.
filed a direct appeal, but the United States Court of Appeals
for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed his convictions and
sentence. McCoy then filed multiple motions to vacate his
sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, but those motions
were denied. He also filed several § 2241 petitions, but
those too were denied.
has now filed yet another § 2241 petition. [R. 1]. While
McCoy's numerous arguments are often difficult to
understand, he is clearly challenging the validity of his
convictions and sentence. [R. 1, 9, 11, 12]. McCoy cites
numerous cases that he claims support his petition.
§ 2241 petition, however, constitutes an impermissible
collateral attack on his convictions and sentence. While a
federal prisoner may challenge the legality of his
convictions or sentence through a direct appeal and a §
2255 motion, he generally may not do so in a § 2241
petition. See United States v. Peterman, 249 F.3d
458, 461 (6th Cir. 2001) (explaining the distinction between
a § 2255 motion and a § 2241 petition). After all,
a § 2241 petition is usually only a vehicle for
challenges to actions taken by prison officials that affect
the manner in which the prisoner's sentence is being
carried out, such as computing sentence credits or
determining parole eligibility. See Terrell v. United
States, 564 F.3d 442, 447 (6th Cir. 2009). Simply put,
McCoy cannot use a § 2241 petition as a way of
challenging his convictions and sentence.
nevertheless suggests that he can attack his convictions and
sentence in his § 2241 petition by mentioning §
2255(e)'s savings clause. But that suggestion is off
base. To be sure, the Sixth Circuit has said that “the
so-called ‘savings clause' . . . provides that if
section 2255 is inadequate or ineffective to test the
legality of his detention, . . . then a federal prisoner may
also challenge the validity of his conviction or sentence
under § 2241.” Bess v. Walton, 468 F.
App'x 588, 589 (6th Cir. 2012) (citations and quotation
marks omitted). However, the Sixth Circuit has further
explained that “[i]nvocation of the savings clause is
restricted to cases where prisoners can show ‘an
intervening change in the law that establishes their actual
innocence.'” Id. (quoting
Peterman, 249 F.3d at 462). Then, in subsequent
cases, the Sixth Circuit has explained precisely how a
prisoner can rely on an intervening change in the law to
establish his actual innocence, see Wooten v.
Cauley, 677 F.3d 303, 307-08 (6th Cir. 2012), or even
challenge a sentence enhancement. See Hill v.
Masters, 836 F.3d 591, 599-600 (6th Cir. 2016).
case, McCoy has not demonstrated that an intervening change
in the law establishes his actual innocence or that his
sentence was somehow improperly enhanced. Instead, McCoy
repeats arguments that this Court has already rejected,
see McCoy v. Sepanek, No. 7:16-cv-015-ART (E.D. Ky.
2016), and he offers other arguments that are either hard to
follow or are otherwise without merit.
example, McCoy cites the Supreme Court's decision in
Burrage v. United States, 134 S.Ct. 881, 892 (2014),
which held that “at least where the use of the drug
distributed by the defendant is not an independently
sufficient cause of the victim's death or serious bodily
injury, a defendant cannot be liable under the penalty
enhancement provision of 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(C) unless
such use is a but-for cause of the death or injury.”
However, it does not appear from McCoy's petition or the
record in his underlying criminal case that he was ever
actually held liable under the penalty enhancement provision
of § 841(b)(1)(C). Rather, the documents attached to
McCoy's petition indicate that the trial court determined
that he had multiple prior convictions for felony drug
offenses and thus was subject to a mandatory minimum sentence
of life in prison pursuant to a § 841(b)(1)(A).
See R. 1-3 at 5-9; see also McCoy v. Lapin,
No. 2:11-cv-2177 (W.D. La. November 13, 2012) (recognizing
that McCoy was sentenced to life in prison “based on
the underlying charges and sentencing enhancements for prior
drug convictions pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 841.”).
Thus, McCoy's Burrage claim is without merit.
reliance on Descamps v. United States, 133 S.Ct.
2276 (2013), and Mathis v. United States, 136 S.Ct.
2243 (2016), is also unavailing. After all, those cases
discuss the approach courts should use to determine whether a
prior conviction constitutes a violent felony for purposes of
the Armed Career Criminal Act and, here, the trial court
enhanced McCoy's sentence pursuant to §
841(b)(1)(A), a different statute with broader language.
See Jose Adrian Hernandez v. J. Ray Ormond, No.
6:17-cv-081-DLB (E.D. Ky. September 18, 2017) (explaining
that the analysis described in Mathis is not
applicable to enhancements pursuant to §
841(b)(1)(A)'s broad language). In short, McCoy has not
explained in any clear way how Descamps and
Mathis represent intervening changes in the law that
establish that his sentence was improperly enhanced.
while McCoy makes several other arguments, none of his claims
appear to meet the requirements set forth in either
Wooten or Hill. Thus, McCoy's §
2241 petition is an impermissible collateral attack on his
convictions and sentence.
it is hereby ORDERED as follows:
McCoy's petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 2241 [R. 1] is DENIED.
action is DISMISSED and