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Lightbourn v. Ormond

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, London

June 22, 2018

DONAVEON LIGHTBOURN, Petitioner,
v.
J. RAY ORMOND, Warden, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          CLARIA HORN BOOM, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.

         Inmate Donaveon Lightbourn has filed a pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. [R. 1] This matter is before the Court to conduct the initial screening of the petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2243. Alexander v. Northern Bureau of Prisons, 419 Fed.Appx. 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 Lightbourn's petition under a more lenient standard because he is not represented by an attorney. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Franklin v. Rose, 765 F.2d 82, 84-85 (6th Cir. 1985) (noting that “allegations of a pro se habeas petition, though vague and conclusory, are entitled to a liberal construction” including “active interpretation” toward encompassing “any allegation stating federal relief”) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted).

         In October 2008, a federal jury in Miami, Florida, found Lightbourn guilty of possessing a firearm and ammunition after having been convicted of a felony in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). During the sentencing hearing, Lightbourn did not object to information in the Presentence Investigation Report (“PSR”) indicating that he had one prior juvenile conviction, ten prior adult misdemeanor convictions, eleven arrests, and seven prior adult felony convictions. These offenses involved the use of marijuana, the brandishing or use of a gun, an assault upon a police officer, carrying a concealed firearm, and second degree murder. Of those, the trial court concluded that at least three qualified as violent felonies or serious drug offenses within the meaning of 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(1), rendering him subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years imprisonment as an armed career criminal. Specifically, six prior offenses qualified as predicate offenses for purposes of the §924(e) enhancement:

(1) a 1997 conviction for the possession of cocaine with intent to sell;
(2) a separate 1997 conviction for the sale of cocaine;
(3) a 1997 conviction for battery upon a law enforcement officer;
(4) a 1999 conviction for possession of cocaine with intent to sell;
(5) a 2000 conviction for battery upon a law enforcement officer; and
(6) a 2000 conviction for escape.

         In December 2008, the trial court imposed a sentence of 293 months imprisonment at the upper end of the range established by the advisory Sentencing Guidelines. United States v. Lightbourn, No. 1: 08-CV-20367-WPD-1, (S.D. Fla. 2008). The Eleventh Circuit affirmed both Lightbourn's conviction and the enhancement of his sentence on direct appeal. United States v. Lightbourn, 357 Fed.Appx. 259 (11th Cir. 2009).

         The Supreme Court denied Lightbourn's petition for a writ of certiorari on May 25, 2010, two months after it had issued its decision in Johnson v. United States, 559 U.S. 133 (2010). Lightbourn filed a timely motion to vacate his conviction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 on May 10, 2011, which the trial court denied one week later without requiring a response from the government. The Eleventh Circuit denied a certificate of appealability.

         In 2015, Lightbourn filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 in the Middle District of Florida. In that petition, Lightbourn argued that in light of the Supreme Court's decisions in Johnson (2010) and Johnson v. United States, ___ U.S. ___, 135 S.Ct. 2551, 192 L.Ed.2d 569 (2015), his two prior Florida convictions for battery upon a law enforcement officer did not qualify as “violent felonies” to enhance his sentence under § 924(e)(1). He further argued based upon decisional law predating his conviction and sentencing that one of his convictions for drug trafficking and one of his convictions for assaulting a police officer did not constitute valid predicates because he had pled nolo contendre to each. That court denied the petition, finding that Lightbourn's claims were not cognizable in a habeas corpus petition under § 2241. Lightbourn v. Warden, No. 5: 15-CV-416-WTH-PRL (M.D. Fla. 2015).

         In his § 2241 petition before this Court, Lightbourn simply reiterates a slightly-truncated version of the same arguments he asserted unsuccessfully in his prior habeas petition. [R. 1 at p. 5] Although Lightbourn set forth in his petition the required procedural history of his criminal case and initial collateral review proceedings [R. 1 at pp. 2-3], he omits any reference to the habeas corpus proceedings which squarely rejected the same claims he presents here. Were the respondent to raise the issue, Lightbourn's claims would plainly be barred as an abuse ...


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