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Rodriguez v. Stewart

United States District Court, D. Maryland

November 8, 2019

EDWIN RODRIGUEZ, Petitioner,
v.
TIMOTHY S. STEWART, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM ORDER

          THEODORE D. CHUANG United States District Judge

         Edwin Rodriguez, an inmate at the Federal Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Maryland ("FCI-Cumberland"), has filed a self-represented Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. S 2241, in which he challenges his sentencing enhancement as a career offender under the United States Sentencing Guidelines. Rodriguez seeks the issuance of a new Pre-Sentence Investigation Report correcting and re-calculating his guideline range to reflect that he is not a "career offender." Pet. at 10, ECF No. 1.

         In opposing the Petition, Respondent Warden Timothy Stewart argues, among other grounds, that Rodriguez may not obtain relief through a petition under 28 U.S.C. S 2241 because he has not demonstrated that a motion under 28 U.S.C. S 2255 would be "inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of his detention." 28 U.S.C. S 2255(e) (2018). Rodriguez has filed a Reply. Having reviewed the submitted materials, the Court finds that no hearing is necessary. See D. Md. Local R. 105.6. For reasons set forth below, the Petition will be DISMISSED.

         BACKGROUND

         The material facts of the case are not in dispute. On May 16, 1996, after a jury trial in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Rodriguez was convicted of conspiracy to distribute cocaine, in violation of21 U.S.C. S 846. United States v. Rodriguez, No. 94-CR-0192-WB-10(E.D.Pa. 1994). On November 20, 1997, Rodriguez was sentenced to a total term of imprisonment of 360 months followed by ten years of supervised release. Rodriguezss sentence was based on the sentencing court's determinaiion that he was a career offender pursuant to the then-mandatory United States Sentencing Guidelines, U.S.S.G. S 4B1.1(a), by virtue of his 1987 Pennsylvania state conviction for involuntary manslaughter, and his 1987 conviction in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania ("Eastern District of Pennsylvania") for distribution of cocaine. Rodriguezss direct appeal was denied by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

         On November 3, 1999, Rodriguez filed his first Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence under 28 U.S.C. S 2255, which was denied by the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. On November 22, 2002, the Third Circuit denied Rodriguezss request for a certificate of appealability.

         On May 8, 2003, Rodriguez filed a motion pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) seeking reconsideraiion of the denial of his S 2255 motion. The motion was denied. On appeal, the Rule 60(b) motion was construed as a second or successive S 2255 motion and, after a limited remand, the motion was denied. Rodriguezss subsequent application to file a second or successive S 2255 motion was also denied by the Third Circuit.

         On June 16, 2008, Rodriguez filed a Motion to Reduce Sentence pursuant to 18 U.S.C. S 3582(c)(2) on the ground that the United States Sentencing Guidelines were no longer mandatory pursuant to United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220, 265 (2005). The Eastern District of Pennsylvania dismissed the motion as an improper second or successive S 2255 motion. The Third Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal and denied a certificate of appealability. Rodriguez next filed a Petition for Writ of Audita Querela, again arguing he was entitled to resentencing. The district court's denial of the petition was affirmed by the Third Circuit.

         On October 23, 2013 and May 20, 2014, Rodriguez filed with the Third Circuit applications for leave to file a second or successive petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. S 2244(b)(3). The applications were denied.

         Next, on July 8, 2014, Rodriguez filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. S 2241 in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, alleging that his Pennsylvania state conviction for involuntary manslaughter no longer qualifies as a "crime of violence" in light of Begay v. United States, 553 U.S. 137 (2008), abrogated by Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015). The petition was dismissed on August 14, 2014.

         On June 16, 2016, Rodriguez filed in the Eastern Dis~rict of Pennsylvania another Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence under 28 U.S.C. S 2255, alleging that in light of Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015), his prior Pennsylvania conviction for involuntary manslaughter was no longer a crime of violence for purposes of the career offender enhancement under U.S.S.G. S 4B1.1. On November 17, 2017, the Third Circuit granted Rodriguez leave to file a second or successive S 2255 motion. The Eastern District of Pennsylvania stayed the motion pending the resolution of United States v. Green, 898 F.3d 315 (3d Cir. 2018). Upon the resolution of Green, the federal public defender determined that Rodriguez was not entitled to relief and withdrew his S 2255 motion in April 2019.

         While that S 2255 motion was pending, on October 26, 208,, Rodriguez filed the instant Petition in this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. S 2241. In the Petition, Rodriguez again argues that he should be resentenced because in light of Johnson, his state conviction for involuntary manslaughter no longer qualifies as a predicate offense for purposes of the career offender enhancement that was applied against him at the time of his sentencing.

         DISCUSSION

         Respondenss argue that the Petition should be dismissed because the requested relief must be sought through a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct the sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. S 2255, not a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. S 2241. A S 2241 petition may be filed to attack the manner in which a sentence is executed. In re Vial,115 F.3d 1192, 1194 n.5 (4th Cir. 1997) (en banc). Such a petition must be filed in the district in which the petitioner is incarcerated. See 28 U.S.C. S 2241(a). A collateral attack on the validity ofa federal conviction or sentence, however, is properly brought through as 2255 ...


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