United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, London
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
M. Hood Senior U.S. District Judge.
Maxie is an inmate at the Federal Correctional Institution in
Manchester, Kentucky. Proceeding without an attorney, Maxie
filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2241 seeking to challenge the validity of his
conviction. [DE 1]. Because Maxie failed to sign his original
petition, the Court issued a deficiency order. [DE 5]. Maxie
has now complied with the Court's deficiency order and
provided a habeas petition that satisfies Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 11. [DE 6]. Accordingly, the matter is now
before the Court for an initial screening. See 28
U.S.C. § 2243; Alexander v. Northern Bureau of
Prisons, 419 Fed.Appx. 544, 545 (6th Cir. 2011).
2014, a jury convicted Maxie of being a felon in possession
of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§
922(g)(a), 924(a)(2), and 924(e), as well as aiding and
abetting his co-defendant's possession of a firearm.
See United States v. Maxie, et al., Case No.
5:14-cr-00004-TBR (W.D. Ky. 2004), DE 61 therein. At trial,
Maxie stipulated that prior to December 1, 2010, he had been
convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term
exceeding one year. Id. at DE 70 therein. Following
the jury verdict, the Court sentenced Maxie to 180 months on
each count of conviction, to be served concurrently for a
total term of 180 months of federal imprisonment.
Id. at DE 87 therein.
appealed his sentence, but the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals
affirmed. See United States v. Maxie, 647 Fed.Appx.
551 (6th Cir. 2016). Maxie then filed a motion to vacate his
sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, arguing
ineffective assistance of counsel and that his predicate
offense no longer counted for purposes of a § 924(e)
enhancement under Welch v. United States, 136 S.Ct.
1257 (2016), and Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct.
2251 (2015). The trial court denied his § 2255 motion
and denied a certificate of appealability as to each claim
asserted. See Maxie, 5:14-cr-00004-TBR, DE 137
therein. Maxie then petitioned the Sixth Circuit for
permission to file a second or successive § 2255 motion
based on Sessions v. Dimaya, 138 S.Ct. 1204 (2018),
but the Sixth Circuit denied his r equest. Id. at DE
149 therein. Maxie now seeks relief in this Court by way of
his pending 28 U.S.C. § 2241 petition.
§ 2241 petition, Maxie 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 claims that
Rehaif renders him “actually innocent”
because at trial, he was not found to have knowingly violated
the “status” element of being a felon in
possession of a firearm. [See DE 6-1]. Upon the
Court's preliminary screening, a habeas petition will be
denied “if it plainly appears from the petition and any
attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to
relief.” See Rule 4 of the Rules Governing
§ 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts
(applicable to § 2241 petitions pursuant to Rule 1(b)).
petition must be denied upon screening because the petition
states no viable claim for habeas relief. The correct
mechanism for a federal prisoner to challenge his or her
conviction is sentence is through a 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a)
motion to vacate, not a 28 U.S.C. § 2241 petition.
See Terrell v. United States, 564 F.3d 442, 447 (6th
Cir. 2009); United States v. Peterman, 249 F.3d 458,
461 (6th Cir. 2001) (explaining the distinction between a
§ 2255 motion and a § 2241 petition). The Sixth
Circuit has made clear that a § 2241 petition 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). Instead, the
“savings clause” of 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e)
allows a petitioner to proceed via § 2241 only under
extraordinarily narrow circumstances, 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
assert a claim that he is “actually innocent” of
the underlying offense by showing that after his conviction
became final, the United States Supreme Court issued a
retroactively applicable decision reinterpreting 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 after all. Wooten v. Cauley,
677 F.3d 303, 307-08 (6th Cir. 2012).
Maxie relies on 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. Maxie
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.
[DE 6-1 at 1]. This argument fails for a number of 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. See In re Palacios, 931 F.3d 1314, 1315
(11th Cir. 2019); In re Wright, 942 F.3d 1063, 1065
(11th Cir. 2019).
Maxie stipulated during trial that he had been convicted of a
crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one
year. See Maxie, 5:14-cr-00004-TBR, DE 60 therein.
Maxie now suggests that this stipulation does not prove that
he had knowledge of his status as a person forbidden from
possessing a firearm. But Maxie's reasoning is based on
an overly-broad interpretation of Rehaif. Contrary
to his assumption, Rehaif does not hold that the
Government was required to prove that he knew he was
prohibited from possessing a firearm to sustain a conviction
under § 922(g)(1). As the Supreme Court explained:
[t]he question here concerns the scope of the word
“knowingly.” Does it mean that the Government
must prove that a defendant knew both that he engaged in the
relevant conduct (that he possessed a firearm) and also that
he fell within the relevant status (that he was a felon, an
alien unlawfully in this country, or the like)? We hold that
the word “knowingly” applies both to the
defendant's conduct and to the defendant's status. To
convict a defendant, the Government therefore must show that
the defendant knew he possessed a firearm and also that he
knew he had the relevant status when he possessed it.
Rehaif, 139 S.Ct. at 2194.
while the Government's burden includes proof that a
defendant was aware of his “relevant status, ”
meaning that he knew that he was “a felon, an alien
unlawfully in this country, or the like, ” see
Id. at 2195-96, it does not include proof that the
defendant specifically knew that he was prohibited from
possessing firearms. See United States v. Bowens,
938 F.3d 790, 797 (6th Cir. 2019) (refusing to adopt the
defendant's argument that Rehaif requires the
Government to prove “that [defendants] both knew they
possessed firearms and knew that they were unlawful users of
a controlled substance” under § 922(g)(3)).
fact, in Bowens, the Sixth Circuit rejected
Maxie's unduly expansive reading of Rehaif:
[D]efendants appear to argue that even if they knowingly used
marijuana, Rehaif requires something more: that the
Government prove each defendant “knew he was
prohibited from possession [of a firearm] because he
was an unlawful user of a controlled substance, ” that
in other words he “knew of his status as a
prohibited person . . . . [I]t is at least plausible
that they were unaware that they were prohibited from
possessing firearms under a subsection of 18 U.S.C. §