United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, London
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Gregory F Van Tatenhove, United States District Judge.
Contreras is an inmate confined at the United States
Penitentiary - McCreary in Pine Knot, Kentucky. Proceeding
without an attorney, Contreras 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
2009, Contreras was convicted of conspiracy to possess with
the intent to distribute more than 50 kilograms of marijuana.
See United States v. Contreras, No. 5:08-cr-257
(S.D. Tex. 2009). The United States District Court for the
Southern District of Texas determined that Contreras was a
career offender pursuant to section 4B1.1 of the United
States Sentencing Guidelines because he had at least two
prior felony convictions for either a crime of violence or a
controlled substance offense. Therefore, Contreras's
sentence was enhanced, and his advisory guidelines range was
262 to 327 months in prison. The trial court sentenced
Contreras to 262 months in prison. Contreras then challenged
his conviction on direct appeal, but the United States Court
of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed that conviction.
See United States v. Contreras, No. 09-40571 (5th
six years later, in August 2016, Contreras filed a motion to
vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2255. See United States v. Contreras,
No. 5:08-cr- 257 (S.D. Tex. 2016) at R. 120 - R. 129.
Contreras argued, among other things, that in light of the
Supreme Court's decision in Mathis v. United
States, 136 S.Ct. 2243 (2016), his prior felony
convictions were no longer valid predicate offenses to
subject him to the career-offender enhancement under the
sentencing guidelines. See United States v.
Contreras, No. 5:08-cr-257 (S.D. Tex. 2016) at R. 129.
The trial court, however, denied Contreras's motion as
untimely and added that, even if his motion was timely,
Mathis did not apply to Contreras's case
“because it was decided after he was sentenced and was
not made retroactive on collateral attack.”
Id. at R. 147, 151.
has now filed his § 2241 petition with this Court, and
he restates his Mathis-related claim.
Contreras's petition, however, constitutes an
impermissible collateral attack on his sentence. That is
because although a federal prisoner may challenge the
legality of his sentence on direct appeal and through a
timely § 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,
Contreras 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, 599 (6th Cir. 2016), to support his position.
[R. 1-1 at 6.] 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 circumstances:
(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 in this case. That is because the
trial court sentenced Contreras in 2009, well after the
Supreme Court decided Booker. Plus, Contreras has
failed to identify a subsequent, retroactive change in
statutory interpretation by the Supreme Court that reveals
that one of his previous convictions is not a predicate
offense for purposes of the career-offender enhancement.
While Contreras cites Mathis, the Sixth Circuit
recently explained in a published decision that
“Mathis was dictated by prior precedent
(indeed two decades worth), ” and, thus, it did not
announce a new rule, let alone a retroactive one. In re
Conzelmann, No. 17-3270, 2017 WL 4159184, *1 (6th Cir.
September 20, 2017). Contreras's reliance on
Mathis is therefore unavailing.
IT IS ORDERED that:
1. Contreras's petition for a writ of habeas corpus
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 [R. 1] is
2. This action is DISMISSED and
STRICKEN from the ...