United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, London
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
HORN BOOM, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
Smith is an inmate at the Federal Correctional Institution in
Manchester, Kentucky. Proceeding without a lawyer, Smith
filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2241. [R. 1] This matter is now before the
Court on initial screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2243.
See Alexander v. Northern Bureau of Prisons, 419
Fed.Appx. 544, 545 (6th Cir. 2011). For the reasons set forth
below, the Court will deny Smith's petition.
2008, a jury convicted Smith of multiple federal crimes for
his part in a multi-defendant drug conspiracy in Tennessee.
See United States v. Joshua Smith, No. 1:07-cr-146
at R. 257 (E.D. Tenn. 2008). Those crimes included conspiracy
to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine and 100
kilograms of marijuana, as well as using a communication
facility to commit a drug offense, all in violation of 21
U.S.C. §§ 841, 843, 846. See Id. At
sentencing, the trial court determined that Smith was a
career offender pursuant to section 4B1.1 of the United
States Sentencing Guidelines (U.S.S.G.) because he had at
least two prior felony convictions for either a crime of
violence or controlled substance offense. As a result,
Smith's sentence was enhanced, and the trial court
sentenced him to a total of 380 months in prison. See
Id. at Rs. 347, 386. Smith then filed a direct appeal,
but the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
affirmed Smith's convictions and sentence and, in doing
so, specifically held that “the district court did not
err in designating Joshua [Smith] as a career
criminal.” United States v. Smith et al., 395
Fed.Appx. 223, 235 (6th Cir. 2010). Finally, Smith tried to
vacate his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, but
his efforts were unsuccessful.
has now filed a § 2241 petition with this Court, and it
is clear that he is attempting to challenge the validity of
his sentence in his underlying criminal case. Smith primarily
argues that, in light of intervening case law, his prior
convictions are no longer valid predicate offenses for
purposes of a sentence enhancement under U.S.S.G. §
4B1.1. [R. 1 at 4-5; R. 1-1 at 2-17]. That said, Smith also
argues that the trial court improperly enhanced his sentence
under other provisions of the guidelines, including U.S.S.G.
§§ 2D1.1 and 3B1.1, and miscalculated his base
offense level. [R. 1-1 at 27-32]. Ultimately, Smith asks this
Court to “correct[ ] his sentence” and
“resentenc[e] him to the statutory mandatory minimum of
240 months.” [R. 1-1 at 32].
petition, however, 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 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 habeas petition). After all, a § 2241 petition is
usually only a vehicle for challenges to actions taken by
prison officials that affect the way 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, Smith cannot use a § 2241 petition as a way of
challenging his sentence.
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, in
doing so, the court expressly limited its decision to the
following, 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 Smith in 2008, well after the Supreme
Court's decision in Booker made the sentencing
guidelines advisory rather than mandatory. On this basis
alone, Smith's claims do not fall within
Hill's limited exception for bringing a §
2241 petition to challenge his federal sentence. See
Loza-Gracia v. Streeval, No. 18-5923 (6th Cir. March 12,
2019) (“Loza-Gracia cannot proceed under Hill
because he was sentenced in 2011, long after the Supreme
Court's January 2005 Booker decision made the
guidelines advisory rather than mandatory.”);
Contreras v. Ormond, No. 18-5020 (6th Cir. Sept. 10,
2018) (“[The petitioner's] case does not fall
within the narrow exception recognized by Hill
because he was sentenced post Booker in 2009, under
the advisory sentencing guidelines.”); Arroyo v.
Ormond, No. 17-5837 (6th Cir. April 6, 2018) (holding
that since the petitioner was sentenced after
Booker, his “claim does not fall within
Hill's limited exception for bringing a §
2241 habeas petition to challenge a federal sentence”).
Thus, Smith's attacks on his sentence are unavailing.
Finally, to the extent that Smith's sentence was also
enhanced pursuant to other provisions in the law, he has not
clearly identified a subsequent, retroactive change in
statutory interpretation by the Supreme Court that reveals
that his sentence was somehow improper. In short, Smith's
§ 2241 petition is without merit.
it is HEREBY ORDERED as follows:
1. Smith'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 ...