United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Northern Division, Ashland
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
R. Wilhoit Jr. United States District Judge.
Rivers is an inmate at the Federal Correctional Institution
in Ashland, Kentucky. Proceeding without a lawyer, Rivers
filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2241. [D. E. No. 1]. The parties have fully
briefed that petition and, therefore, this matter is ripe for
a decision. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will
deny Rivers's petition.
2012, Rivers pled guilty to being a felon in possession of a
firearm and ammunition, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
922(g). See United States v. Deshawn Rivers, No.
2:12-cr-148 at D. E. Nos. 40, 51 (D.S.C. 2012). At
sentencing, the trial court determined that Rivers was
subject to a 15-year mandatory minimum sentence pursuant to
the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), 18 U.S.C. §
924(e), because he had three prior convictions for serious
drug offenses. See Id. at D. E. Nos. 51, 58.
Ultimately, the trial court sentenced Rivers to 188 months in
prison. See Id. Rivers then filed a direct appeal,
but the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
dismissed that appeal as untimely. See Id. at D. E.
No. 60. Rivers's subsequent efforts to vacate his
sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 were unsuccessful.
See Id. at D. E. Nos. 82, 86, 92.
has now filed a § 2241 petition with this Court, and he
challenges the validity of his sentence. Rivers lists his
three prior convictions-(1) possession with the intent to
distribute cocaine within the proximity of a school, (2)
conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine
base, and (3) possession with the intent to distribute
cocaine base-and argues that, in light of intervening case
law, these convictions are no longer valid predicate offenses
for purposes of an ACCA enhancement. [D. E. No. 1 at 6; No.
1-1 at 11-29]. To support his petition, Rivers cites Supreme
Court decisions, including but not limited to Descamps v.
United States, 133 S.Ct. 2276 (2013), and Mathis v.
United States, 136 S.Ct. 2243 (2016), as well as a
number of federal circuit court cases. Finally, Rivers moves
to amend his submission, claiming that another intervening
federal circuit court case, United States v. Rhodes,
736 Fed.Appx. 375 (4th Cir. 2018), also supports his
petition. [D. E.No. 12].
initial matter, the Court will grant Rivers's motion to
amend and allow him to add arguments in support of his
petition. Ultimately, this Court has fully considered
Rivers's initial and supplemental arguments in resolving
said, in the end, Rivers's § 2241 petition
constitutes an impermissible collateral attack on his
sentence. Although a federal prisoner may challenge the
legality of his sentence on direct appeal and through 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,
Rivers cannot use a § 2241 petition as a way of
challenging his sentence.
nevertheless suggests 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 United States
Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit indicated for the
first time that a prisoner may challenge his sentence in a
§ 2241 petition. However, the Sixth Circuit explained
that the petitioner must show "(1) a case of statutory
interpretation, (2) that is retroactive and could not have
been invoked in the initial § 2255 motion, and (3) that
the misapplied sentence presents an error sufficiently grave
to be deemed a miscarriage of justice or a fundamental
defect." Hill, 836 F.3d at 595. The Court also
explained that its decision addressed only a narrow subset of
§ 2241 petitions- those involving a "subsequent,
retroactive change in statutory interpretation by the Supreme
Court [that] reveals that a previous conviction is not a
predicate offense for a career-offender enhancement."
Id. at 600.
circumstances do not apply in this case. That is because
Rivers has not clearly identified a subsequent, retroactive
change in statutory interpretation by the Supreme Court that
reveals that one or more of his previous drug convictions are
not valid predicate offenses for purposes of the ACCA
enhancement. Rivers has cited Descamps and
Mathis, both of which discuss the approach courts
should use to determine whether a prior conviction
constitutes a valid ACCA predicate. But Rivers has not
explained how these cases establish that the trial court
erred in deciding that his three prior drug convictions
qualified as valid predicates.
reliance on the Fourth Circuit's decision in United
States v. Rhodes, 736 Fed.Appx. 375 (4th Cir. 2018), is
also unavailing. To be sure, Rhodes involved S.C.
Code Ann. § 44-53-445(A), and Rivers's first prior
drug conviction was under that same state statute. However,
as the Respondent points out [D. E. No. 15], the Fourth
Circuit did not say in Rhodes that a
conviction under S.C. Code Ann. § 44-53-445(A) cannot
constitute a "serious drug offense" for purposes of
the ACCA. Instead, the Fourth Circuit assumed the
divisibility of S.C. Code Ann. § 44-53-445(A) and
applied the modified categorical approach to determine
whether a conviction under the statute qualified as a
"controlled substance offense" under the sentencing
guidelines. See Rhodes, 736 Fed.Appx. at 379-80.
the Fourth Circuit subsequently made it clear in United
States v. Marshall, 747 Fed.Appx. 139, 150 (4th Cir.
2018), that S.C. Code Ann. § 44-53-445(A) is indeed a
divisible statute subject to the modified categorical
approach. This allows a court to examine certain state court
documents, such as the sentencing sheet from the South
Carolina court, to determine which alternative offense formed
the basis for the petitioner's conviction. See
Marshall, 141 F. App'x at 150. Since Rivers
acknowledges [D. E. No. 1-1 at 13] and his sentencing sheet
confirms [D. E. No. 15-1] that he was convicted of possession
with the intent to distribute cocaine within the proximity of
a school, his conviction qualifies as a predicate offense
under the ACCA. See Marshall, 747 Fed.Appx. at 151
("Because the South Carolina offense of possession with
the intent to distribute corresponds directly with the ACCA
definition of a 'serious drug offense,' ... we
conclude that Marshall's prior drug convictions qualify
as predicate offenses under the ACCA."). In short,
Rivers's reliance on recent Fourth Circuit case law is
while Rivers has put forth other arguments and cited other
cases in his petition, none of those arguments or cases
demonstrate in any clear way that his sentence amounts to a
miscarriage of justice or fundamental defect.
it is ORDERED as follows:
Rivers's motion to amend [D. E. No. 12] is
GRANTED to the extent that this Court has
fully considered his additional arguments.
said, Rivers's petition for a writ of habeas corpus
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § ...