United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
C Reeves, Chief Judge
Joseph Alan James is currently confined at the Federal
Medical Center (“FMC”)-Lexington in Lexington,
Kentucky. Proceeding without an attorney, James has filed a
petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2241 in which he seeks to challenge the validity of
his conviction. [Record No. 1] This matter is pending for
initial screening as required by 28 U.S.C. § 2243.
Alexander v. Northern Bureau of Prisons, 419
Fed.App’x 544, 545 (6th Cir. 2011).
October 2015, pursuant to a plea agreement with the United
States, James pled guilty in the United States District Court
for the District of Minnesota to one count of being a felon
in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§§ 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2). He was sentenced in
March 2016 to a term of imprisonment of 78 months. James did
not appeal his conviction or sentence. In February 2017,
however, James filed a motion to vacate his sentence pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. The district court denied the
motion and declined to issue a certificate of appealability.
Although James appealed the district court’s decision
to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit,
the appellate court denied his application for a certificate
of appealability and dismissed the appeal. United States
v. Joseph Alan James, No. 0:15-cr-255-SRN-1 (D. Minn.).
§ 2241 petition filed with this Court, James argues that
his conviction is invalid in light of the Supreme
Court’s recent decision in Rehaif v. United
States, 139 S.Ct. 2191 (2019), because the government
did not show that he knew that he belonged to a category of
persons prohibited from possession of a firearm or ammunition
at the time that he committed his crime. [Record No. 1]
However, on July 8, 2019 (prior to filing his § 2241
petition in this Court), James submitted a petition to file a
second or successive habeas petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255 in the United States Court of Appeals for the
Eighth Circuit, also seeking relief from his conviction in
light of Rehaif. Joseph James v. United
States, No. 19-2434 (8thCir.
2019). The government has filed a response
opposing the petition and James recently filed a reply to the
response. The matter is currently pending for decision by the
Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.
§ 2241 petition filed in this Court will be denied
because his motion for relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
2255 remains pending. The correct mechanism for a federal
prisoner to challenge his or her conviction or sentence is
through a motion to vacate filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
2255(a). Terrell v. United States, 564 F.3d 442, 447
(6th Cir. 2009). See also United States v. Peterman,
249 F.3d 458, 461 (6th Cir. 2001) (explaining the distinction
between a § 2255 motion and a § 2241 petition). A
§ 2241 petition may not be used for this purpose because
it does not function as an additional or alternative remedy
to the one available under § 2255. Hernandez v.
Lamanna, 16 Fed.App’x 317, 320 (6th Cir. 2001).
“savings clause” of 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e)
creates an extraordinarily narrow exception to this
prohibition if the remedy afforded by § 2255 is
“inadequate or ineffective” to test the legality
of the prisoner’s detention. Truss v. Davis,
115 Fed.App’x 772, 773-74 (6th Cir. 2004). A motion
under § 2255 is not “inadequate or
ineffective” simply because the prisoner’s time
to file a § 2255 motion has passed; he did not file a
§ 2255 motion; or he did file such a motion and was
denied relief. Copeland v. Hemingway, 36
Fed.App’x 793, 795 (6th Cir. 2002); Taylor v.
Gilkey, 314 F.3d 832, 835 (7th Cir. 2002) (holding that
§ 2241 is available “only when a structural
problem in § 2255 forecloses even one round of effective
collateral review...”). In other words, prisoners
cannot use a habeas petition under § 2241 as yet another
“bite at the apple.” Hernandez, 16
Fed.App’x at 360.
James’ motion to file a second or successive §2255
petition challenging his conviction in light of
Rehaif – the exact issue presented in his
§ 2241 petition – is presently pending before the
Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, rendering resort to a §
2241 petition to obtain the same measure of relief in this
Court premature. See Pullen v. Ormond, No. 18-6171
(6th Cir. Sept. 5, 2019) (petitioner could not
make a colorable argument that his remedy under § 2255
was “inadequate or ineffective” for purposes of
filing a § 2241 petition when a pending § 2255
motion may render his claims in his § 2241 petition
moot). See also Smith v. United States, 89 F.3d 835
(6th Cir. 1996) (unpublished disposition).
James’ pending request to file a § 2255 petition
may render his claims in this proceeding moot, he must
complete the process of seeking relief via § 2255 before
he may make even a colorable argument that his remedy under
that section is “inadequate and ineffective.”
Charles v. Chandler, 180 F.3d 753, 756 (6th Cir.
1999); White v. Grondolsky, No. 6: 06-309-DCR, 2006
WL 2385358, at *3 (E.D. Ky. Aug. 17, 2006). Accordingly, it
James’ petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 2241 [Record No. 1] is
DENIED without prejudice.
action is STRICKEN from the Court’s
 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 ...