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Starks v. Mansukhani

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

August 20, 2014

Dashon C. Starks, Petitioner,
v.
Andrew Mansukhani, Warden, Respondent.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

PAIGE J. GOSSETT, Magistrate Judge.

The petitioner, Dashon C. Starks ("Petitioner"), a self-represented prisoner confined at Federal Correctional Institution ("FCI") Estill, filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. This matter is before the court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(c) DSC. Having reviewed the petition in accordance with applicable law, the court concludes that it should be summarily dismissed.

I. Factual and Procedural Background

Petitioner alleges a conviction for drug offenses in the United States District Court for the District of Florida on April 28, 2006, resulting in a sentence of 360 months' imprisonment. (ECF No. 1 at 2-3.) The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed Petitioner's conviction and sentence on January 24, 2007. (Id. at 4.) Petitioner filed a motion to vacate, set aside or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, which the sentencing court denied on April 8, 2009. (Id.) Petitioner filed a second § 2255 motion in 2012, which the sentencing court dismissed. (Id. at 5.)

Citing Descamps v. United States , 133 S.Ct. 2276 (2013), Petitioner claims that a former Florida conviction under "Fla. Statute 893.13" for possession with intent to sell or deliver cocaine "does not qualify as a controlled substance offense" and should not have been used to enhance his federal sentence. (Id. at 7; see also ECF No. 1-1 at 2.) Therefore, Petitioner asks this court to "resentence [him] without the career offender enhancement." (ECF No. 1 at 9.)

II. Discussion

A. Standard of Review

Under established local procedure in this judicial district, a careful review has been made of the pro se petition filed in this case pursuant to the Rules Governing § 2254 Cases, [1] 28 U.S.C. § 2254; the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"), Pub. L. No. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214; and in light of the following precedents: Denton v. Hernandez , 504 U.S. 25 (1992); Neitzke v. Williams , 490 U.S. 319, 324-25 (1989); Haines v. Kerner , 404 U.S. 519 (1972); Nasim v. Warden, Md. House of Corr. , 64 F.3d 951 (4th Cir. 1995) (en banc); Todd v. Baskerville , 712 F.2d 70 (4th Cir. 1983).

This court is required to liberally construe pro se petitions. Erickson v. Pardus , 551 U.S. 89 (2007). Pro se petitions are held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys, id.; Gordon v. Leeke , 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978), and a federal district court is charged with liberally construing a petition filed by a pro se litigant to allow the development of a potentially meritorious case. Hughes v. Rowe , 449 U.S. 5, 9 (1980); Cruz v. Beto , 405 U.S. 319 (1972). When a federal court is evaluating a pro se petition the petitioner's allegations are assumed to be true. Erickson , 551 U.S. at 93 (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007)).

However, the requirement of liberal construction does not mean that the court can ignore a clear failure in the pleading to allege facts which set forth a claim currently cognizable in a federal district court. Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. , 901 F.2d 387 (4th Cir. 1990). The mandated liberal construction afforded to pro se pleadings means that if the court can reasonably read the pleadings to state a valid claim on which the petitioner could prevail, it should do so; however, a district court may not rewrite a petition to include claims that were never presented, Barnett v. Hargett , 174 F.3d 1128 (10th Cir. 1999), construct the petitioner's legal arguments for him, Small v. Endicott , 998 F.2d 411 (7th Cir. 1993), or "conjure up questions never squarely presented" to the court, Beaudett v. City of Hampton , 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985).

B. Analysis

The instant petition, filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, is subject to summary dismissal because "it is well established that defendants convicted in federal court are obliged to seek habeas relief from their convictions and sentences through § 2255." Rice v. Rivera , 617 F.3d 802, 807 (4th Cir. 2010) (citing In re Vial , 115 F.3d 1192, 1194 (4th Cir. 1997)). Petitioner cannot challenge his federal conviction and sentence under § 2241, unless he can satisfy the § 2255 savings clause, which states:

An application for a writ of habeas corpus in behalf of a prisoner who is authorized to apply for relief by motion pursuant to this section, shall not be entertained if it appears that the applicant has failed to apply for relief, by motion, to the court which sentenced him, or that such court has denied him relief, unless it also appears that the remedy by motion is inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of his detention.

28 U.S.C. § 2255(e); see also Reyes-Requena v. United States , 243 F.3d 893, 901 (5th Cir. 2001); Ennis v. Olsen, No. 00-7361 , 2000 WL 1868982, at *1 (4th Cir. Dec. 22, 2000). In this case, Petitioner has been unsuccessful in seeking relief under § 2255. However, "the remedy afforded by § 2255 is not rendered inadequate or ineffective merely because an individual has been unable to obtain relief under that provision, or because an individual ...


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