United States District Court, D. South Carolina
OPINION AND ORDER
H. Hendricks United States District Judge.
matter is before the Court upon Petitioner Shon Edward
Meeks's (“Petitioner”) pro se
petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2241. In accordance with 28 U.S.C. 636(b)(1)(B) and
Local Rule 73.02(B)(2)(c) (D.S.C.), the matter was referred
to a United States Magistrate Judge for a Report and
Recommendation on Respondent Warden Bonita Mosely's
(“Respondent”) motion to dismiss (ECF No. 14). On
December 26, 2018, Magistrate Judge Shiva V. Hodges issued a
Report and Recommendation (“Report”), analyzing
the issues and recommending that the Court grant
Respondent's motion to dismiss (ECF No. 14), deny the
petition for writ of habeas corpus (ECF No. 1), and dismiss
the petition without prejudice. (See ECF No. 19 at
7.) Petitioner filed objections (ECF No. 24) to the Report,
and the matter is ripe for review. The Report sets forth in
detail the relevant facts and standards of law, and the Court
incorporates them here, summarizing below only in relevant
filed a pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus
pursuant to § 2241 on June 28, 2018. (ECF No. 1.) In the
petition, he asserts that he is “actually
innocent” of the enhanced sentence that he is currently
serving pursuant to his January 3, 2005 guilty plea to
distribution of cocaine base and his designation as a career
offender. (See Id. at 4-11.) Petitioner acknowledges
that he has previously filed a motion to vacate pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 2255 in the Middle District of North
Carolina, where he was convicted and sentenced. (Id.
at 4.) That court, Judge William L. Osteen presiding, denied
Petitioner's § 2255 motion on August 17, 2018.
See ECF Nos. 67 & 69, United States v.
Meeks, C/A No. 1:04-cr-466-WO-1 (M.D. N.C. ).
does not allege any new evidence to support his “actual
innocence” claim. Instead, he asserts that, under the
Fourth Circuit's holdings in United States v.
Simmons, 649 F.3d 237 (4th Cir. 2011) and Miller v.
United States, 735 F.3d 141 (4th Cir. 2013), he does not
have two predicate offenses that qualify him as a career
offender because the maximum sentences for the drug offenses
used to enhance his sentence were less than one year.
(See ECF No. 1 at 9-11.)
Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to the Court.
The recommendation has no presumptive weight, and the
responsibility to make a final determination remains with the
Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261 (1976). The
Court is charged with making a de novo determination
only of those portions of the Report to which a specific
objection is made, and the Court may accept, reject, or
modify, in whole or in part, the recommendations of the
Magistrate Judge, or recommit the matter to the Magistrate
Judge with instructions. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). In the
absence of specific objections, the Court reviews the matter
only for clear error. See Diamond v. Colonial Life &
Accident Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005)
(stating that “in the absence of a timely filed
objection, a district court need not conduct a de novo
review, but instead must ‘only satisfy itself that
there is no clear error on the face of the record in order to
accept the recommendation.'”) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P.
72 advisory committee's note).
Report, Magistrate Judge Hodges explains that the instant
§ 2241 petition is subject to dismissal because
Petitioner is unable to satisfy the § 2255 savings
clause and this Court lacks jurisdiction to consider the
petition. (See ECF No. 19 at 5-7.) The Magistrate
Judge rightly notes that § 2241 actions are generally
used to challenge the execution or implementation of a
federal prisoner's sentence, and not to collaterally
attack a conviction or sentence. (See id.)
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)
(citing In re Vial, 115 F.3d 1192, 1194 (4th Cir.
1997) (en banc)). However, § 2255 contains a
“savings clause” that allows federal prisoners to
proceed under § 2241 when a motion under § 2255
would prove “inadequate or ineffective” to test
the legality of the detention. In re Vial, 115 F.3d at
1194. Importantly, “the remedy afforded by § 2255
is not rendered inadequate or ineffective merely because an
individual has been unable to obtain relief under that
provision . . . or because an individual is procedurally
barred from filing a § 2255 motion . . . .”
Id. at n.5.
Fourth Circuit has identified circumstances when a federal
prisoner may use a § 2241 petition to contest his
sentence. Specifically, § 2255 is inadequate or
(1) at the time of the 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.
U.S. v. Wheeler, 886 F.3d 415, 429 (4th Cir. 2018)
(emphasis added). Here, Magistrate Judge Hodges determined
that Petitioner cannot meet the second prong in the
Wheeler test because Simmons and
Miller were decided before Petitioner filed his
initial § 2255 motion. (ECF No. 19 at 6.) Moreover, the
Magistrate Judge observed that the sentencing court, in
denying Petitioner's § 2255 motion, considered and
rejected Petitioner's argument under Simmons.
(Id. at 6-7.)
first objects by arguing that the Magistrate Judge was
incorrect to conclude that Petitioner cannot satisfy the
second prong of the Wheeler test. (See ECF
No. 24 at 2-3.) Petitioner expends significant effort on this
objection but fails to show that the change in law upon which
he is relying for his theory of relief-namely,
Simmons and Miller-occurred before
his first § 2255 motion. (See id.) The
Magistrate Judge ...