United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, London
OPINION & ORDER
E. WIER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
se Petitioner Jeremiah Corbin-a federal
inmate-seeks a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 2241. See DE 1. Corbin challenges
his sentence's career offender enhancement. The Court
conducts an initial review under 28 U.S.C. § 2243. For
the following reasons and under the applicable standards, the
Court DENIES the petition.
September 2009, in the Southern District of Indiana, Corbin
pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute 500 grams of a
mixture containing methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C.
§§ 841(a)(1) & 846 (Count One), and twice
possessing a firearm as a convicted felon, in violation of 18
U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) (Counts Six and Seven). See
United States v. Corbin, No. 2:08-cr-00014-WTL-CMM-8
(S.D. Ind.) (Corbin I), ECF Nos. 309 (Second
Superseding Indictment),  480 (Binding Plea Agreement). Prior to
the plea, the Government filed a § 851 notice citing
Corbin's two prior “felony drug offenses”;
namely, 2002 and 2004 Indiana convictions for, respectively,
meth possession and meth trafficking. Id. at ECF No.
277. In exchange for his plea, the Government agreed to amend
the § 851 notice to remove one prior felony drug
conviction. Id. at ECF No. 480, ¶ 5. The
binding 11(c)(1)(C) agreement also provided that “a
sentence within the range of 262 to 327 months'
imprisonment and a term of supervised release and fine as
imposed by the Court is the appropriate disposition of the
case.” Id. at ¶ 2. For his part, Corbin
agreed “not to contest, or seek to modify, his
conviction or his sentence or the manner in which it was
determined in any proceeding, including, but not limited to,
an action brought under 28 U.S.C. § 2255.” See
Id. at ¶ 11.
February 2010, the trial court imposed fully concurrent
262-month (on the § 846 conspiracy) and 120-month
sentences (on each of the § 922(g)(1) counts).
Id. at ECF No. 541 (Judgment). Corbin appealed his
judgment and sentence. Id. at ECF No. 563 (Notice).
In December 2010, the Seventh Circuit dismissed Corbin's
appeal based on the plea agreement appellate waiver, noting
that Corbin received a bottom-guideline sentence of 262
months and could not “maintain the benefit of the plea
agreement while challenging other parts of his conviction,
including his sentence.” United States v.
Corbin, No. 10-1693, ECF No. 45 (7th Cir. Dec. 29, 2010,
Order) (Corbin II).
years later, in October 2015, Corbin, via § 2255 motion,
challenged his USSG § 4B1.1 Career Offender enhancement.
Corbin I, ECF No. 670 (Motion). Corbin argued that
his two prior convictions for Resisting Law Enforcement could
only qualify as “crimes of violence” under the
§ 4B1.2(a)(2) residual clause, and that the Supreme
Court's invalidation of the ACCA residual clause in
Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015)
should extend to the comparable guideline provision.
Id. During the pendency of Corbin's motion, the
Supreme Court held to the contrary. See Beckles v. United
States, 137 S.Ct. 886, 894 (2017) (concluding that the
advisory nature of the post-Booker Guidelines takes
the § 4B1.2 residual clause outside
Johnson's ambit). Accordingly, the trial court
dismissed Corbin's motion. Corbin I, ECF No. 694
(“Entry Dismissing” § 2255).
before this Court, Corbin argues, again, that his career
offender enhancement was erroneous. See DE 1-1.
Corbin contends that Beckles was wrongly decided
and/or subsequently overruled because “[t]he residual
clause, as used in the guideline definition of crime of
violence contained in 4B1.2, has been invalidated by the
interplay of” United States v. LaBonte, 117
S.Ct. 1673 (1997), Sessions v. Dimaya, 138 S.Ct.
1204 (2018), the 2015 Johnson decision, and 28
U.S.C. § 994(h). Id. at 8-11. Thus, per Corbin,
the trial court improperly relied on the § 4B1.2
residual clause to enhance his sentence, notwithstanding
Beckles. Id. The Court, upon thorough
review and for the following reasons, finds that Corbin
plainly is not entitled to relief.
his plea agreement, Corbin knowingly and voluntarily waived
the right to appeal or collaterally attack the conviction or
sentence. Such waivers are enforceable and apply to
proceedings under § 2241. Slusser v. United
States, 895 F.3d 437, 439 (6th Cir. 2018) (“It is
well-settled that a knowing and voluntary waiver of a
collateral attack is enforceable.”) (citing Watson
v. United States, 165 F.3d 486, 489 (6th Cir. 1999)),
cert. denied, No. 18-6807, 2019 WL 1005877 (Mem), at
*1 (Mar. 4, 2019). For his conviction on the aggravated
quantity meth-mixture trafficking conspiracy, given
Corbin's prior felony drug offenses, Corbin, absent the
Government's § 851-amendment promise, would have
been subject to a “mandatory term of
life imprisonment[.]” 21 U.S.C. §
841(b)(1)(A). Corbin bargained for and received a substantial
reduction in the potential sentence he faced in exchange for,
inter alia, his guilty plea and collateral attack
waiver. The Seventh Circuit already enforced the waiver to
bar Corbin's direct appeal. Corbin II, ECF No.
45. The waiver likewise applies here. Moser v.
Quintana, No. CV 5:17-386-DCR, 2017 WL 5194507, at *2
(E.D. Ky. Nov. 9, 2017), aff'd, No. 17-6421 (6th
Cir. June 21, 2018); Solis-Caceres v. Sepanek, No.
13-cv-21-HRW, 2013 WL 4017119, at *3 (E.D. Ky. Aug. 6, 2013)
(collecting cases). This is a threshold, but far from the
only, fatal frailty.
Corbin's claim is not properly cognizable under §
2241. For sentencing challenges, this is the general rule.
See United States v. Peterman, 249 F.3d 458, 461
(6th Cir. 2001). Section 2255 is the proper vehicle for
collaterally attacking detention legality; § 2241,
rather, is reserved “for claims challenging the
execution or manner in which the sentence is served[,
]” such as those involving sentence credit computation
issues. Id. Foundationally, a § 2241 petition
does not function as an additional or alternative remedy to
the one available under § 2255, a route Corbin already
travelled. Hernandez v. Lamanna, 16 Fed.Appx. 317,
320 (6th Cir. 2001).
2255(e)'s so-called “savings
clause” provides an-extraordinarily narrow-
exception to this rule. A § 2241 petitioner may invoke
the savings clause by showing that the § 2255 remedy is
“inadequate and ineffective to test the legality of [ ]
detention[.]” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e); Martin v.
Perez, 319 F.3d 799, 803 (6th Cir. 2003) (The petitioner
faces the § 2255(e) burden.). A prisoner does not clear
the § 2255(e) hurdle simple because he failed to file
(or timely file) a § 2255 motion or because a previous
motion failed. See Copeland v. Hemingway, 36
Fed.Appx. 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, § 2241 does
not provide prisoners another “bite at the
apple.” Hernandez, 16 Fed.Appx. at 360.
§ 2241 and savings clause limits have, historically,
applied with special vigor to sentencing challenges.
Peterman, 249 F.3d at 462; Hayes, 473
Fed.Appx. at 502 (“The savings clause . . . does not
apply to sentencing claims.”). However, the Sixth
Circuit (like several others) has permitted such claims to
proceed through § 2255(e) where a new Supreme Court
decision- i.e., one issued after the petitioner
exhausted his direct appeal and initial § 2255 motion
opportunities-clears a path through binding precedent, thus
opening the door to an argument previously unavailable to the
petitioner. See Wright, 939 F.3d at 703 (discussing
Martin, 319 F.3d at 804-05) (“[I]n this
circuit, a federal prisoner who has already filed a §
2255 motion and cannot file another one cannot access §
2241 just because a new Supreme Court case hints his
conviction or sentence may be defective . . . [T]he prisoner
must also show that binding adverse precedent (or some
greater obstacle) left him with no reasonable opportunity to
make his argument earlier, either when he” appealed his
conviction or initially sought § 2255 relief.)
(emphases, quotation marks, and citations omitted);
accord Hill, 836 F.3d at 595 (permitting a
“petition under § 2241 based on a misapplied
sentence” where, among other things, petitioner's
argument for relief hinged on a retroactive “case of
statutory interpretation” that “could not have
been invoked in [his] initial § 2255
seeking passage through the savings clause gateway, points to
Mathis v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 2243 (2016).
See DE 1-1 at 3-4. Yet, Corbin fails to link the
substance of his current claim-that his “Resisting Law
Enforcement” convictions could only qualify as
career-offender predicates under, in Corbin's view, the
“invalidated residual clause” and thus that the
trial court misapplied the § 4B1.1 enhancement (DE 1-1
at 11)-to any Mathis holding. Corbin, here, offers
no argument that, e.g., the Indiana District Court
erroneously looked beyond the elements of the state resisting
convictions in finding them qualifying career offender
predicates. Thus, Mathis does not pertain and
gives Corbin no ticket through the savings clause portal.
Petitioner's argument relies on three Supreme Court cases
and one statute. Any claim premised on Johnson,
LaBonte (a 1997 decision), or 28 U.S.C. §
994-last modified in 2006, see Pub. L. No. 109-304,
§ 17(f)(1), 120 Stat. 1708 (Oct. 6, 2006)-was available
to Corbin when he filed his § 2255 motion. In fact,
Johnson was the central basis for Corbin's
initial collateral attack. See Corbin I, ECF No. 670
at 14-15. Thus, to have any hope of savings clause passage,
Corbin needed to show that Dimaya offered a
previously unavailable legal theory undergirding his current
claim. Wright, 939 F.3d at 705 (“A new case
matters only, if at all, because of the new legal
arguments it makes available.”). Petitioner
presents no such showing. This, alone, dooms the petition.
Purnell v. United States, 496 Fed.Appx. 596, 601
(6th Cir. 2012) (“[L]iberal construction of a pro se
petitioner's pleadings does not require a court to
conjure allegations on a litigant's behalf[.]”
(quoting Martin v. Overton, 391 F.3d 710, 714 (6th
Dimaya offers no novel gloss to Corbin's claim.
Rather, Dimaya presents only a
“straightforward application” of the
“void-for-vagueness doctrine” that
“Johnson employed.” 138 S.Ct. at
1213. Corbin had an unimpeded opportunity to
present a Johnson/Dimaya vagueness
argument, as well as any perceived twist premised on
LaBonte or § 994, in his § 2255 motion.
Petitioner launched this variety of attack on his career
offender enhancement. See Corbin I, ECF No. 670.
Moreover, the trial court explicitly gave Corbin an
opportunity to address Beckles's impact at that
stage. See id., ECF No. 694. The fact that Corbin
“failed to seize” the opportunity to present his
current challenge to Beckles, or that the trial
court rejected the initial Johnson argument, does
not mean that Corbin can “now use [§ 2255(e)] to
get another bite at the apple.” Wright, 939
F.3d at 706. In short, Corbin failed to establish that §
2255 “was ‘inadequate or ineffective' to test
his sentence.” Id. (quoting 28 U.S.C. §
course, Corbin is no incarcerated innocent. The negotiated
plea deal allowed him to avoid a mandatory
life term, driven by his prior (undisputed)
drug felonies. His complaint over career offender status is a
waived attack on guidelines application. Moreover, contrary
to Corbin's take, Dimaya did not question the
persisting validity of (indeed, did not even reference) and
certainly did not overrule Beckles. See
generally Dimaya, 138 S.Ct. 1204. The two cases simply
concern different issues. See Warrick v. United
States, No. 18-6252, 2019 WL 2299252, at *1 (6th Cir.
Mar. 5, 2019) (The Beckles Court held “that
the rule announced in Johnson does not apply to the
career-offender guideline because the advisory sentencing
guidelines ‘are not subject to a due process vagueness
challenge.' . . . In Dimaya, the Supreme Court,
relying on Johnson, determined that the residual
clause definition of ‘crime of violence' contained
in Section 16(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act was
unconstitutionally vague.”). Thus, Beckles
binds this Court and dictates “that the protections
afforded by Johnson to defendants sentenced under
the ACCA's residual clause cannot be extended to [a