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James v. Mansukhani

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division

November 18, 2014

Alphonso James, Sr., Petitioner,
v.
A. Mansukhani, Warden, Respondent.

ORDER

R. BRYAN HARWELL, District Judge.

On June 26, 2014, Alphonso James, Sr. ("Petitioner"), a federal prisoner currently confined at Federal Correctional Institution-Estill in Estill, SC, filed a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. See Pet., ECF No. 1. Petitioner is proceeding pro se. The matter is before the Court for review of the Report and Recommendation ("R & R") of United States Magistrate Judge Wallace W. Dixon, made in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Rule 73.02 for the District of South Carolina. See R & R, ECF No. 8. In his R & R, the Magistrate Judge recommends the Court dismiss Petitioner's petition without prejudice and without requiring the respondent to file a return. See id. at 10.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Petitioner alleges a conviction and sentencing for a firearm offense in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida on March 1, 1996, resulting in a sentence of 262 months of imprisonment. See ECF No. 1 at 2. Records in Petitioner's criminal case, United States v. James, indicate that Petitioner was originally sentenced to a 262 month term of imprisonment on March 5, 1996, subsequent to a jury verdict finding him guilty on September 15, 1995.[1] United States v. Janes, No. 2:95-cr-33-FTM-29, at *1 (M.D. Fla. May 23, 2014). On July 12, 1996 petitioner filed a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct the sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. See id. at 2. On October 31, 1996, Petitioner also filed a Notice of Appeal. See id. Accordingly, the Court denied Petitioner's motion to vacate for lack of jurisdiction. See id. On January 2, 2001, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed petitioner's conviction and sentence. See id. On June 4, 2001, the Court granted petitioner's Motion for Voluntary Dismissal of his Motion for Void Judgment for Lack of Jurisdiction, construed as a motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 in the same civil case, Case No. 2:96-cv-251-FTM-29. See id.

On July 9, 2001, petitioner filed another motion to vacate, set aside, or correct the sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, which was denied on April 9, 2002. See id. On November 29, 2004, the Eleventh Circuit denied leave to file a second or successive motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. See id. Petitioner then filed another motion to vacate, set aside, or correct the sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 on May 5, 2014. See id. The district court dismissed the petition for lack of jurisdiction via order dated May 23, 2014. See id. at 5.

At some point Petitioner was transferred to FCI - Estill in Estill, SC, and on June 26, 2014, he filed the Petition that is presently before the court pursuant to § 2241. Petitioner does not appear to have obtained authorization from the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit to proceed with a second or successive § 2255 petition.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to the district court. The recommendation has no presumptive weight. The responsibility to make a final determination remains with the district court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71 (1976). The Court is charged with making a de novo determination of those portions of the R & R to which specific objection is made, and the court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge, or recommit the matter with instructions. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).

The court is obligated to conduct a de novo review of every portion of the Magistrate Judge's report to which objections have been filed. Id. However, the court need not conduct a de novo review when a party makes only "general and conclusory objections that do not direct the court to a specific error in the magistrate's proposed findings and recommendations." Orpiano v. Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982) ("[D]e novo review [is] unnecessary in... situations when a party makes general and conclusory objections that do not direct the court to a specific error in the magistrate's proposed findings and recommendation."). The Court reviews only for clear error in the absence of a specific objection. See Diamond v. Colonial Life & Accident Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310 (4th Cir.2005). Furthermore, in the absence of specific objections to the R & R, this Court is not required to give any explanation for adopting the recommendation. See Diamond, 416 F.3d at 315; Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198 (4th Cir. 1983).

DISCUSSION

I. Petition, R & R, and Objections

In his Petition, Petitioner asserts that he is "innocent" of his sentence enhancement pursuant to the Armed Career Criminal Act ("ACCA"), 18 U.S.C. § 924(g), [2] as three of his four prior convictions used to enhance his sentence are no longer considered "aggravated felon[ies] pursuant to federal law." See ECF No. 1 at 5-6, 11; ECF No. 1-1 at 5. Petitioner cites to the Supreme Court's decision in Descamps v. United States, ___ U.S. ___, 133 S.Ct. 2276 (2013), which he claims has been made retroactive on collateral review. See ECF No. 1-1 at 2-3. He asserts that, applying the modified categorical approach as detailed in Descamps, several of the convictions used to enhance his sentence no longer qualify as predicate offenses under ACCA and thus he is "innocent" of the enhancement. See generally ECF No. 1-1. Petitioner seeks the following relief:

that this Court invalidate the prior convictions of non-aggravated felony of [sic] offenses, from the petitioner's sentence enhancement, and order Petitioner's immediate release, or in the alternative modify the petitioner's sentence, ...

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