United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, London
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
C. Reeves, Chief Judge United States District Court.
Christopher Dillon is currently confined at the Federal
(“FCI-Manchester”) located in Manchester,
Kentucky. Proceeding without an attorney, Dillon has filed a
petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2241, seeking 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.Appx. 544, 545
(6th Cir. 2011). Because Dillon is not entitled to habeas
relief, his petition will be denied.
March 2016, Dillon was charged in an indictment issued by a
grand jury in the United States District Court for the
Eastern District of Tennessee with one count of knowingly
possessing with intent to distribute a substance containing a
detectable amount of a-PVP (alpha-pyrrolidinopentiophenone),
a Schedule I controlled substance, in violation of 21 U.S.C.
§§ 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(C) (Count One); and one
count of being a felon in possession of a firearm in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) (Count Two).
United States v. Christopher Ryan Dillon,
No. 2:16-cr-035-RLJ-MCLC-1 (E.D. Tenn. 2016) at Record No. 3.
Dillon entered into a plea agreement with the United States
in November 2016. In relevant part, he agreed to plead guilty
to Count Two of the indictment (i.e., the charge of being a
felon in possession of a firearm). In exchange, the United
States agreed to dismiss Count One (i.e., the charge of
possessing a controlled substance with the intent to
distribute it). Id. at Record No. 13. Dillon also
stipulated to various matters, including the fact that, after
police officers arrived at a parking lot where it had been
reported that drug activity was taking place,
officers located [Dillon] sitting inside one of the vehicles,
a black Honda… Officers then observed a white male
exit a building beside the vehicles and get into the
passenger side of the black Honda. When asked if there were
any firearms in their possession, both initially denied
having a firearm. Officers then asked both [Dillon] and the
other individual to step out of the vehicle. As [Dillon] was
getting out of the vehicle, he was observed putting his hand
to his right side toward the back of the seat. Once out of
the vehicle, one of the officers saw, in plain view, a
firearm between the seat and the console, the same area where
[Dillon] was previously seen putting his hand. [Dillon]
admitted to the officers that he was trying to hide the
firearm from them, that he was transporting the firearm for a
friend, that he was a convicted felon and knew he was not
supposed to be in possession of a firearm.
Id. at Record No. 13, p. 2-3 (emphasis added).
See also id. at p. 4 (stipulating that Dillon
“told agents that the gun belonged to his girlfriend,
but that he knew the gun was in the car, ” and further
stipulating that Dillon was previously convicted of
drug-related felonies in Tennessee and Virginia).
plea agreement also contained a waiver provision, pursuant to
which Dillon agreed not to file a direct appeal of his
conviction or sentence (with an exception not relevant here)
and further “knowingly and voluntarily waive[d] the
right to file any motions or pleadings pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255 or to collaterally attack [Dillon's]
conviction(s) and/or resulting sentence.” Id.
at p. 8.
pled guilty to Count Two of the Indictment on December 15,
2016. On April 6, 2017, Dillon was sentenced to a term of
imprisonment of 110 months, to be served concurrent to
sentences imposed in multiple state criminal cases.
Id. at Record No. 16, 29. Dillon neither filed a
direct appeal of his conviction or sentence, nor did he file
a motion for vacate his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
§ 2241 petition filed in this Court, Dillon argues that
his conviction is invalid in light of the United States
Supreme Court's recent decision in Rehaif v. United
States, 139 S.Ct. 2191 (2019). Specifically, he argues
that, in light of Rehaif, he is “actually
innocent” of his crime of conviction because he did not
knowingly violate the “status” element of being a
felon in possession of a firearm. [Record No. 1 at p. 5]
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.Appx. 317, 320 (6th Cir. 2001). The “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.Appx. 772, 773-74
(6th Cir. 2004). To properly invoke the savings clause, the
petitioner must be asserting a claim that he is
“actually innocent” of the underlying offense by
showing that, after the petitioner's conviction became
final, the United States Supreme Court issued a retroactively
applicable decision re-interpreting the substantive terms of
the criminal statute under which he was convicted in a manner
that establishes that his conduct did not violate the
statute. Wooten v. Cauley, 677 F.3d 303, 307-08 (6th
Dillon relies upon the Supreme Court's decision in
Rehaif which held that, “in a prosecution
under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) and § 924(a)(2), the
Government must prove both that the defendant knew he
possessed a firearm and that he knew he belonged to the
relevant category of persons barred from possessing a
firearm.” Rehaif, 139 S.Ct. at 2200. Dillon
argues that, because he was not found to have
“knowingly” violated the “status”
element of being a felon in possession of a firearm, he is
“actually innocent” of his crime of conviction.
[Record No. 1-1 at p. 1] However, Dillon's § 2241
petition will be denied for several reasons.
to properly invoke the savings clause, the Supreme
Court's newly-announced interpretation must be
retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review.
Wooten, 677 F.3d at 308. While the Sixth Circuit has
not yet addressed this issue, the Eleventh Circuit has
specifically held that the Supreme Court has not
made the Rehaif decision retroactively applicable to
cases on collateral review. In re Palacios, 931 F.3d
1314, 1315 (11th Cir. 2019). See also In re Wright,
942 F.3d 1063, 1065 (11th Cir. 2019).
Dillon knowingly and voluntarily waived his right to contest
his conviction in a post-conviction proceeding in his plea
agreement. Such waivers are enforceable and apply to
proceedings under § 2241, including this one.
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.”) (citation omitted); 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); Rivera v. Warden, FCI, ...