United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
C. REEVES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Aaron Bernell Jackson is presently confined at the United
States Penitentiary - McCreary in Pine Knot, Kentucky.
Proceeding without a lawyer, Jackson has filed a petition for
a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241.
[Record No. 1] For the reasons set forth below, Jackson's
petition will be denied.
2006, a federal grand jury indicted Jackson, charging him
with two counts of knowingly and intentionally distributing
five grams or more of cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C.
§ 841(a)(1); one count of knowingly and intentionally
distributing 50 grams or more of cocaine, in violation of 21
U.S.C. § 841(a)(1); and one count of possession of a
firearm by a convicted felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 922(g)(1). Shortly thereafter, the Government filed a
notice pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 851, indicating that
Jackson had a prior felony drug conviction. Therefore, if
convicted, Jackson was subject to a mandatory-minimum
sentence of 20 years in prison pursuant to 21 U.S.C. §
eventually pled guilty to the charges against him. Jackson
affirmed through his plea agreement that he
“understands that the charges to which he will plead
guilty carry a minimum term of imprisonment of 20
years.” While he reserved the right to directly appeal
his conviction and sentence, Jackson “knowingly and
voluntarily waive[d] the right . . . to contest or
collaterally attack his conviction and the resulting sentence
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 or otherwise.” The
trial court accepted Jackson's guilty plea and sentenced
him to the mandatory-minimum term of 20 years in prison.
filed a direct appeal, but the United States Court of Appeals
for the Sixth Circuit affirmed his convictions and sentence.
Jackson then applied for leave to file a second or successive
motion to vacate his sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255,
but the Sixth Circuit denied that application as unnecessary
because Jackson never filed an initial § 2255 motion.
Instead of then filing such a motion, Jackson filed his
§ 2241 petition with this Court.
Jackson's petition is lengthy and at times difficult to
understand, he appears to be arguing that the trial court
erred when it determined that he had a prior felony drug
conviction and, therefore, was subject to a mandatory minimum
sentence of 20 years in prison pursuant to 21 U.S.C. §
841(b)(1). Jackson cites the Supreme Court's decisions in
Descamps v. United States, 133 S.Ct. 2276 (2013),
and Mathis v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 2243 (2016),
among other cases, to support his petition.
initial matter, Jackson knowingly and voluntarily waived his
right to contest or collaterally attack his conviction and
sentence in his plea agreement. As this Court has recognized
on numerous occasions, such waivers are valid and enforceable
in § 2241 proceedings. See Ewing v. Sepanek,
No. 0:14-cv-111-HRW (E.D. Ky. Jan. 6, 2015);
Solis-Caceres v. Sepanek, No. 0:13-cv-021-HRW (E.D.
Ky. Aug. 6, 2013) (collecting cases); Combs v.
Hickey, No. 5:11-cv-012-JMH (E.D. Ky. Jan. 7, 2011).
Jackson is therefore barred from challenging his sentence in
his habeas petition.
said, even if Jackson's plea waiver was not enforceable,
his § 2241 petition would still constitute an
impermissible collateral attack on his 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,
Jackson cannot use a § 2241 petition as a way of
challenging his sentence.
nevertheless argues that he can attack his sentence in a
§ 2241 petition, and he cites Hill v. Masters,
836 F.3d 591 (6th Cir. 2016), to support his position. It is
true that, in Hill, the Sixth Circuit indicated for
the first time that a prisoner may challenge his sentence in
a § 2241 petition. However, in doing so, the court
expressly limited its decision to the following, very narrow
(1) prisoners who were sentenced under the mandatory
guidelines regime pre-United States v. Booker, 543
U.S. 220 . . . (2005), (2) who were foreclosed from filing a
successive petition under § 2255, and (3) when a
subsequent, retroactive change in statutory interpretation by
the Supreme Court reveals that a previous conviction is not a
predicate offense for a career-offender enhancement.
Id. at 599-600.
circumstances do not apply here. As an initial matter, the
trial court sentenced Jackson in November 2007, well after
the Supreme Court decided Booker. Furthermore,
Jackson has not identified a subsequent, retroactive change
in statutory interpretation by the Supreme Court that reveals
that his previous conviction is not a “felony drug
offense” for purposes of the § 841(b)(1)
enhancement. While Jackson has cited Descamps and
Mathis, 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. Here, the trial court enhanced Jackson's
sentence pursuant to § 841(b)(1), an entirely different
statute with broader language. See Hernandez v.
Ormond, No. 6: 17-cv-081-DLB (E.D. Ky. Sept. 18, 2017)
(explaining that the analysis described in Mathis is
not applicable to enhancements pursuant to §
841(b)(1)'s broad language). In short, Jackson has not
explained how Descamps and Mathis represent
intervening changes in the law that establish that his
sentence was improperly enhanced. Accordingly, it is hereby
Jackson's petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § ...