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Barnes v. Bragg

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Anderson/Greenwood Division

July 12, 2016

Chester Lee Barnes, Petitioner,
v.
M. Travis Bragg, Warden, Respondent.

          Chester Lee Barnes, Petitioner, Pro Se.

          M Travis Bragg, Respondent, represented by Robert F. Daley, Jr., U.S. Attorneys Office.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          JACQUELYN D. AUSTIN, Magistrate Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on Respondent's motion to dismiss. [Doc. 16.] Petitioner is a federal prisoner, proceeding pro se, who seeks relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. [Doc. 1.] Pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(c), D.S.C., this magistrate judge is authorized to review post-trial petitions for relief and submit findings and recommendations to the District Court.

         Petitioner filed this Petition for writ of habeas corpus on July 16, 2015.[1] [Doc. 1.] On November 10, 2015, Respondent filed a motion to dismiss [Doc. 16] and a return and memorandum [Doc. 17]. On November 12, 2015, pursuant to Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975), Petitioner was advised to respond to the motion and of the possible consequences if he failed to adequately respond. [Doc. 19.] Petitioner's response in opposition was filed on December 7, 2015. [Doc. 21.]

         Having carefully considered the parties' submissions and the record in this case, the Court recommends Respondent's motion to dismiss be granted.

         BACKGROUND

         Underlying Conviction, Appeal, and Previous Collateral Attack

         Subsequent to a guilty plea, Petitioner was sentenced in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina on July 29, 2008 to 320 months' imprisonment for violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1)-intent to distribute more than five grams of cocaine base-and violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A)-possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. [E.D. N.C. Case No. 5:07-cr-00351-BO-1, Doc. 31].[2] Specifically, Petitioner was sentenced to consecutive sentences of 260 months' imprisonment for his conviction for possession with intent to distribute more than five grams of cocaine and sixty months' imprisonment for possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. [ Id. ] Petitioner did not file a direct appeal. On February 9, 2012, Petitioner filed a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. [ Id., Doc. 33.] The motion was dismissed as untimely. [ Id., Doc. 46.] Subsequently, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of Petitioner's § 2255 motion. United States v. Barnes, 509 F.Appx. 279 (4th Cir. 2013) (unpublished decision).

         Instant Petition and Motion to Dismiss

         On July 16, 2015, Petitioner filed the instant § 2241 Petition. [Doc. 1.] Petitioner challenges a career offender sentence enhancement imposed under § 4B1.1 of the United States Sentencing Guidelines and alleges that one of his prior convictions used to enhance his sentence no longer qualifies as a predicate offense in light of United States v. Simmons, 649 F.3d 237 (4th Cir. 2011). Petitioner argues that in light of Simmons, he should not have been classified as a career offender, and that his advisory guideline range was therefore calculated incorrectly. [Doc. 1 at 6-10.]

         Respondent first argues that the waiver contained in Petitioner's plea agreement precludes Petitioner's right to attack his conviction and sentence. [Doc. 16-1 at 4-5.] Second, Respondent asserts that this Court lacks jurisdiction to consider Petitioner's 28 U.S.C. § 2241 Petition because Petitioner cannot meet the conditions pronounced in In re Jones, 226 F.3d 328, 333-34 (4th Cir. 2000), to satisfy the savings clause under 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e) and proceed under § 2241. [ Id. at 5-7.]

         Petitioner responds that he did not waive the current challenge because his arguments fall outside the scope of the waiver in his plea agreement. [Doc. 21 at 2-3.] Further, Petitioner argues that a § 2255 motion is inadequate and ineffective. Petitioner claims he meets all three prongs of the test articulated in In re Jones for determining whether a successive habeas petition triggers the savings clause of § 2255. [ Id. at 3-5.] Last, Petitioner ...


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