United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
K. CALDWELL, CHIEF JUDGE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF KENTUCKY.
Christopher Hull is an inmate at the Federal Medical Center
in Lexington, Kentucky. Proceeding without a lawyer, Hull
recently 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 Hull's petition.
2006, a federal grand jury indicted Hull, charging him with
conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to
distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, in violation of
21 U.S.C. § 846. See United States v. Brad
Christopher Hull, No. 6:06-cr-013-NKM-1 at R. 3 (W.D.
Va. 2006). The Government then pointed out that, in October
1995, Hull was convicted in Virginia of possession of cocaine
with the intent to distribute-a felony drug offense-and,
thus, was subject to an enhanced, mandatory minimum sentence
of 20 years in prison pursuant to § 841(b)(1)(A).
See Id. at R. 73. Hull eventually went to trial, and
a jury found him guilty on the conspiracy charge. See
Id. at R. 107. The trial court then sentenced Hull to
292 months in prison, see Id. at R. 158, though it
later reduced his sentence to 240 months, the mandatory
minimum sentence under § 841(b)(1)(A). See Id.
at R. 197. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth
Circuit affirmed the trial court's judgment, see
Id. at R. 181, and Hull's subsequent efforts to
vacate his sentence were unsuccessful. See Id. at R.
has now filed a § 2241 petition with this Court.
Hull's petition and supporting memorandum is lengthy and
at times difficult to understand. However, the crux of
Hull's argument is that the trial court erred when it
determined that his October 1995 cocaine-related conviction
was a “felony drug offense” such that he was
subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison
pursuant to § 841(b)(1)(A). To support his petition,
Hull 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
petition, however, constitutes 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, Hull cannot use a § 2241 petition as a way of
challenging his sentence.
nevertheless argues that he can attack his sentence in a
§ 2241 petition. It is true that, in Hill v.
Masters, 836 F.3d 591 (6th Cir. 2016), 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.
circumstances do not apply here because, among other things,
Hull has not identified a subsequent, retroactive change in
statutory interpretation by the Supreme Court that reveals
that his October 1995 cocaine-related conviction is not
actually a “felony drug offense” for purposes of
the § 841(b)(1)(A) enhancement. While Hull 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
Hull's sentence pursuant to § 841(b)(1)(A), an
entirely different statute with much broader language. In
short, as the Sixth Circuit has clearly stated,
“Descamps and Mathis . . . are
inapplicable to sentences enhanced under §
841(b)(1)(A).” Smith v. Ormond, No. 18-5101
(6th Cir. July 30, 2018). Thus, Hull's reliance on these
cases is unavailing.
Hull appears to argue that his predicate conviction was based
on his possession of an “imitation controlled
substance” rather than cocaine and, as a result, he did
not actually commit a “felony drug offense” as
that term is defined in 21 U.S.C. § 802(44). This
argument, however, is not based on a subsequent, retroactive
change in statutory interpretation by the Supreme Court, as
required by the Hill framework. Therefore, it is
simply not proper in a § 2241 petition.
light of the foregoing analysis, it is hereby
ORDERED as follows:
1. Hull's petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § ...