United States District Court, D. South Carolina
F. Anderson, Jr. United States District Judge.
pro se Petitioner, Sonnie Charles Suttles
(“Petitioner”), is currently incarcerated at
FCI-Williamsburg, in Salters, South Carolina. Petitioner
filed the instant petition for a writ of habeas corpus
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. In accordance with 28
U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(c)
(D.S.C.), the case was referred to the Magistrate Judge.
Magistrate Judge assigned to this action prepared a
thorough Report and Recommendation (“Report”) and
opines that this Court should dismiss the petition in this
case without prejudice because Petitioner is actually seeking
28 U.S.C. § 2255 relief. The Report sets forth, in
detail, the relevant facts and standards of law on this
matter, and this Court incorporates those facts and standards
without a recitation.
was advised of his right to object to the Report, which was
entered on the docket on July 11, 2017. Petitioner filed his
objections to the Report (“Objections”) on July
27, 2017. That same day Petitioner filed an amended 28 U.S.C.
§ 2241 petition. Thus, this matter is ripe for review.
Objections, Petitioner argues that the Magistrate Judge
exceeded his authority to issue the Report by creating
“his own hybrid fact” and “self-created
fact.” (ECF No. 14 p. 1). Specifically, Petitioner
points to the Magistrate's determination that
“[b]ecause the Petitioner is seeking to have his
sentence modified, he is seeking § 2255 relief, not
§ 2241 relief.” (ECF No. 11 p. 3). Petitioner
argues that he is seeking immediate release from prison, and
therefore, the Magistrate Judge exceeded his authority. (ECF
No. 14 p. 2). To the contrary, after full consideration and
study of the appropriate case law, the Magistrate correctly
determined that the Petitioner is actually seeking §
2255 relief, despite having filled a § 2241 petition.
Therefore, Petitioner's claim that the Magistrate abused
his authority is without merit.
Petitioner disagrees with the Magistrate's determination
that it plainly appears from the petition that Petitioner is
not entitled to relief. Petitioner first argues that the
standard used by the Magistrate applies to review of §
2254 petitions and not § 2241 petitions. Petitioner is
incorrect. The Magistrate, citing Rule 4 of the Rules
Governing Section 2254 Cases in the U.S. District Courts
(2012), stated that “[t]he court is charged with
screening the petitioner's lawsuit to determine if
‘it plainly appears from the petition and any attached
exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the
district court.'” (ECF No. 11 p. 2). While the
petition here is brought under § 2241, the district
court may apply the Rule 4 standard to this petition.
See Rule 1(b), Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in
the U.S. District Courts (2012) (stating that “[t]he
district court may apply any or all of these rules to a
habeas corpus petition not covered by Rule 1(a)).
further asserts that even if the standard applies, his
petition is properly brought pursuant to § 2241.
Specifically, Petitioner objects to the Magistrate's
finding that Petitioner is actually seeking § 2255
relief rather than § 2241 relief because Petitioner is
seeking modification of his sentence rather than alleging
facts concerning the applicant's commitment or detention.
Petitioner states that he “is being unlawfully held
(i.e. detained) at F.C.I Williamsburg under or by color of
the (i.e. commitment) of the United States, ” and
therefore, is properly seeking § 2241 relief. (ECF NO.
14 p. 2).
petition under § 2255 is the exclusive means of
collaterally attacking a federal conviction. See In Re
Jones, 226 F.3d 328, 333 (4th Cir. 2000). On the other
hand, a § 2241 petition is used to attack the manner in
which a sentence is executed. Billups v. Deboo, C/A
No. 2:14-cv-7, 2014 WL 4102479, *4 (N.D.W.Va. Aug. 13, 2014).
Thus, a petition that challenges a federal conviction and
sentence is properly construed to be a § 2255 motion.
a § 2241 petition attacking a federal conviction and
sentence may, in narrow circumstances, be entertained if the
petitioner can show under the savings clause of 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255 that a § 2255 petition would be inadequate
or ineffective to test the legality of his detention. The
Fourth Circuit held that a § 2255 petition is considered
inadequate and ineffective to test the legality of a
(1) at the time of conviction, settled law of this circuit or
the Supreme Court established the legality of the conviction;
(2) subsequent to the prisoner's direct appeal and first
§ 2255 motion, the substantive law changed such that the
conduct of which the prisoner was convicted is deemed not to
be criminal; and (3) the prisoner cannot satisfy the
gatekeeping provisions of § 2255 because the new rule is
not one of constitutional law.”
re Jones, 226 F.3d at 333-334. “Based on the
language in Jones it is clear the Fourth Circuit contemplated
a situation in which a prisoner is imprisoned for an offense
which is no longer a crime.” Billups, 2014 WL
4102479 at *5. The Fourth Circuit has not extended the reach
of the savings clause to those petitioners challenging only
their sentence. United States v. Poole, 531 F.3d
263, 267 n. 7 (4th Cir. 2008). Instead, the Fourth Circuit
has “confined the § 2255 savings clause to
instances of actual innocence of the underlying offense of
conviction.” Darden v. Stephens, 426 Fed.Appx.
173, 174 (4th Cir. 2011). The claim of “actual
innocence” resulting from the change in the law
rendering the underlying offense no longer a crime.
Magistrate Judge correctly found that the savings clause does
not apply in this case. Here, Petitioner does not even argue
that the factors of In re Jones apply. Furthermore,
the Magistrate found, and this Court agrees, that the In
re Jones factors do not apply. Instead, Petitioner
repeatedly claims that he was sentenced, in part for
brandishing a firearm, but was not indicted for nor plead
guilty to that crime. Thus, Petitioner is challenging that
his sentence is incorrect and that he should not serve time
for brandishing a firearm. As explained above, this type of
relief is properly sought through a § 2255 petition, not
a §2241 petition. The Court notes that Petitioner
already filed a § 2255 petition in the Northern District
of Alabama where he was sentenced. His first § 2255
petition was denied on August 8, 2012.
Petitioner objects to the Magistrates Judge's rejection
of Petitioner's claim that he is actually innocent.
Petitioner takes issue with three of the cases cited by the
Magistrate Judge for the actual innocence claim standard.
Petitioner argues the cases are factually different, and
therefore, do not apply. Petitioner argues that Bousley
v. United States, 523, U.S. 614, 623 (1998), Schlup
v. Delo, 513 U.S. 298, 324 (1995), and Thompson v.
United States, 211 F.3d 1270 (6th Cir. 2000) are all
cases where the defendants were indicted for their alleged
offenses and found guilty of their alleged offenses. While
the cases may be factually different in that regard, the
Magistrate's use of those cases to apply the appropriate
standard was not in error. As stated above, Petitioner is
asking for § 2255 relief by asking for this Court to
correct his sentence. Petitioner has not shown or even argued
that his petition falls under the savings clause from In
re Jones, therefore, it is not proper in this case for
the Court to consider whether his sentence is incorrect.
extent the petitioner argues § 2255 is inadequate or
ineffective because he is “actually innocent” he
has offered no new facts to support this assertion. Claims of
“actual innocence” are extremely rare and must be
based on “factual innocence not mere legal
insufficiency.” Bousley, 523 U.S. at 623. To
present a credible claim of actual innocence, petitioner must
“support his allegation of constitutional error with
new reliable evidence - whether it be exculpatory scientific
evidence, trustworthy eyewitness accounts, or critical
physical evidence - that was not presented at trial.”
Schlup, 513 U.S. at 324. Petitioner does not support
his claim of actual innocence with any ...