United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Northern Division, Covington
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
William O. Bertelsman United States District Judge.
Lee Harris is a federal prisoner who 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
2000, a jury found Harris guilty of distributing cocaine in
violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841, as well as being a felon
in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
922(g). In light of Harris's prior criminal
history, this Court determined that he was a career offender
and, thus, was subject to an enhanced sentence under the
sentencing guidelines. The Court ultimately sentenced Harris
to a total of 360 months in prison. Harris then filed a
direct appeal, but the United States Court of Appeals for the
Sixth Circuit affirmed his convictions and sentence.
Harris's subsequent efforts to vacate his sentence were
is now incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution
in Glenville, West Virginia, and he recently filed a §
2241 petition with the United States District Court for the
Northern District of West Virginia. [R. 1]. The Government,
however, responded to Harris's petition by asking the
Northern District of West Virginia to transfer Harris's
case to this Court. [R. 14]. Harris then joined in that
motion [R. 19], and the Northern District of West Virginia
transferred his petition to this Court [R. 20]. Harris's
case is now before this Court on initial screening pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 2243, and the crux of his argument is
that, in light of Mathis v. United States, 136 S.Ct.
2243 (2016), as well as a number of federal circuit court
cases, his prior felony convictions are no longer valid
predicate offenses to subject him to an enhanced sentence.
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, Harris 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 9]. 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. To be sure, Harris
was sentenced before the Supreme Court decided
Booker, and he may be foreclosed from filing a
successive petition under § 2255. However, he has not
identified 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 Harris
repeatedly 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).
Harris's reliance on Mathis is therefore
IT IS ORDERED that:
Harris's petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 2241 [R. 1] is DENIED.
action is DISMISSED and
STRICKEN from the Court's docket.
corresponding judgment will ...