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Farmer v. Antonelli

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

August 13, 2018

Josand Farmer, Petitioner,
v.
Warden Antonelli, FCI Williamsburg, Respondent.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          PAIGE J. GOSSETT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         The petitioner, Josand Farmer, a self-represented prisoner confined at Federal Correctional Institution Williamsburg, 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) (D.S.C.). Having reviewed the Amended Petition in accordance with applicable law, the court concludes that it should be summarily dismissed.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         Petitioner, a federal inmate being held at FCI Williamsburg, indicates he was convicted of conspiracy to distribute cocaine base and two counts of aiding and abetting to distribute cocaine base on March 24, 2011 in the Eastern District of North Carolina. (Am. Pet., ECF No. 6 at 1, ECF No. 6-1 at 2.) He indicates he was sentenced on September 26, 2011. (Id., ECF No. 6 at 1.) In 2012, Petitioner filed a motion to alter or amend his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 in the Eastern District of North Carolina, which was denied in 2013. (Id. at 4.)

         Petitioner now seeks a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, asking the court to vacate his conspiracy conviction and remand for resentencing. Petitioner raises two grounds for relief in the Amended Petition. First, he argues his sentence was erroneously increased because the sentencing court failed to conduct “a reasonable foreseeable determination” to “accurately set” his mandatory minimum. (Id. at 6.) Specifically, Petitioner argues that the Government's informants who testified at his trial did not present sufficient evidence that the drugs were attributable to Petitioner, and thus, the sentencing court incorrectly increased his sentence under 21 U.S.C. § 841. (Id. at 5-6.) Second, he argues his mandatory minimum was erroneously increased because the sentencing court used a non-existent predicate offense under 21 U.S.C. § 851. (Id. at 7.)

         II. Discussion

         A. Standard of Review

         Under established local procedure in this judicial district, a careful review has been made of the pro se Amended Petition filed 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 pleadings, which are held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); King v. Rubenstein, 825 F.3d 206, 214 (4th Cir. 2016). Nonetheless, 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 cognizable in a federal district court. See Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387 (4th Cir. 1990); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 684 (2009) (outlining pleading requirements under Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for “all civil actions”).

         B. Analysis

         A petitioner cannot challenge his federal conviction and sentence under § 2241 unless he can show under the “savings clause” of § 2255(e) that a § 2255 motion is “inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of his detention.” See 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e); see also Rice v. Rivera, 617 F.3d 802, 807 (4th Cir. 2010) (providing that if a federal prisoner brings a § 2241 petition that does not fall within the scope of the savings clause, the district court must dismiss the unauthorized habeas petition for lack of jurisdiction). The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has held that a petitioner must establish the following criteria to demonstrate that a § 2255 motion is inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of a prisoner's sentence:

(1) [A]t the time of sentencing, settled law of this circuit or the Supreme Court established the legality of the sentence; (2) subsequent to the prisoner's direct appeal and first § 2255 motion, the aforementioned settled substantive law changed and was deemed to apply retroactively on collateral review; (3) the prisoner is unable to meet the gatekeeping provisions of § 2255(h)(2) for second or successive motions; and (4) due to this retroactive change, the sentence now presents an error sufficiently grave to be deemed a fundamental defect.

United States v. Wheeler, 886 F.3d 415, 429 (4th Cir. 2018).

         Here, the two grounds for relief raised in the Amended Complaint do not rely on a change in the substantive law that has been made applicable to Petitioner's sentence on collateral review. Rather, Petitioner relies on law existing at the time of his conviction and sentence to challenge the lawfulness of his sentence. Therefore, under Fourth Circuit ...


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