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Dodd v. Thomas

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

May 29, 2015

Roosevelt Dodd #XXXXX-XXX, Petitioner,
v.
L. Thomas, Warden, F.C.I. Edgefield, Respondents.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

THOMAS E. ROGERS, III, Magistrate Judge.

The petitioner, Roosevelt Dodd, ("Petitioner"), a self-represented prisoner confined at Federal Correctional Institution ("FCI") Edgefield, 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.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Petitioner is serving a 235-month sentence[1] after pleading guilty in this Court in February of 2012 to one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1), 924(a)(2), 924(e), and one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute crack cocaine. See Doc. # 35 in Cr. No. 7:12-cr-26-HMH.[2] Petitioner did not appeal. Petitioner filed a motion to vacate, set aside or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 on April 18, 2013, which the sentencing court denied on April 24, 2013. See Id. at Docs. # 40, 42. Petitioner filed a Rule 60(b) motion, which was denied. See Id. at Docs. # 52, 54. Petitioner filed an appeal from this Order, which was ultimately dismissed for failure to prosecute. (No. 14-7501).

Citing Begay v. United States, 553 U.S. 137, 128 S.Ct. 1581, 170 L.Ed.2d 490 (2008), United States v. Simmons, 649 F.3d 237 (4th Cir.2011), and Descamps v. United States, ___ U.S. ___, 133 S.Ct. 2276, 186 L.Ed.2d 438 (2013), Petitioner contends that he is actually innocent of the 18 USC 922(g) offense of which he has been convicted based on his argument that a prior arson conviction does not qualify as a predicate. Petitioner also asserts that he was sentenced on an improperly applied mandatory minimum, i.e., that he was improperly classified as, and incorrectly received an enhanced sentence under 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(1), the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), and United States Sentencing Guideline § 4B1.4 (USSG). Petitioner asserts that he satisfies the savings clause of Section 2255(e) as his Section 2255 petition is inadequate and ineffective. Therefore, Petitioner asks this court to resentence him in accordance with the current law. (ECF No. 1 at 18.).

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, [3] FN1 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, 112 S.Ct. 1728, 118 L.Ed.2d 340 (1992); Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324-25, 109 S.Ct. 1827, 104 L.Ed.2d 338 (1989); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 92 S.Ct. 594, 30 L.Ed.2d 652 (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, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 167 L.Ed.2d 1081 (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, 101 S.Ct. 173, 66 L.Ed.2d 163 (1980); Cruz v. Beto, 405 U.S. 319, 92 S.Ct. 1079, 31 L.Ed.2d 263 (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, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (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

Sentence Enhancement:

Petitioner challenges the enhancement of his sentence under the ACCA guidelines. [Doc. 1 at 13, 15, 16.] However, Petitioner fails to establish that the Court should allow him to proceed under § 2241.

"As a threshold matter, 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). A petitioner cannot challenge his federal conviction and sentence ...


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