United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division
Bryan Harwell Chief United States District Judge.
Kelvin Ross Sinclair, a federal prisoner proceeding pro se,
has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 2241. See ECF No. 1. The matter is
before the Court for review of Petitioner's objections to
the Report and Recommendation (“R & R”) of
United States Magistrate Judge Mary Gordon Baker, who
recommends summarily dismissing Petitioner's § 2241
petition without prejudice. See ECF Nos. 10 &
Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to the Court.
The Magistrate Judge's recommendation has no presumptive
weight, and the responsibility to make a final determination
remains with the Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S.
261, 270-71 (1976). The Court must conduct a de novo review
of those portions of the R & R to which specific
objections are made, and it may accept, reject, or modify, in
whole or in part, the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge
or recommit the matter with instructions. 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b).
Court must engage in a de novo review of every portion of the
Magistrate Judge's report to which objections have been
filed. Id. However, the Court need not conduct a de
novo review when a party makes only “general and
conclusory objections that do not direct the [C]ourt to a
specific error in the [M]agistrate [Judge]'s proposed
findings and recommendations.” Orpiano v.
Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982). In the absence
of specific objections to the R & R, the Court reviews
only for clear error, Diamond v. Colonial Life & Acc.
Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005), and the
Court need not give any explanation for adopting the
Magistrate Judge's recommendation. Camby v.
Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 199-200 (4th Cir. 1983).
2008, a jury convicted Petitioner of being a felon in
possession of a firearm and ammunition under 18 U.S.C. §
922(g), and this Court sentenced him to life imprisonment
under the Armed Career Criminal Act (“ACCA”), 18
U.S.C. § 924(e). See United States v. Sinclair,
No. 4:06-cr-01321-RBH, (D.S.C.). Petitioner is incarcerated
in this District and has filed a § 2241 petition
challenging his ACCA sentence, claiming several of his prior
offenses no longer qualify as ACCA predicates in light of
Mathis v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 2243 (2016).
See ECF No. 1.
Magistrate Judge recommends summarily dismissing
Petitioner's § 2241 petition because he fails to
satisfy the second prong of the test set forth in United
States v. Wheeler, wherein the Fourth Circuit held:
[Section] 2255 is inadequate and ineffective to test the
legality of a sentence when: (1) at 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.
886 F.3d 415, 429 (4th Cir. 2018) (“the
Wheeler test”). Petitioner has filed
objections to the R & R. See ECF No. 12.
Court will overrule Petitioner's objections. Because his
§ 2241 petition does not rely on a retroactively
applicable change in substantive law subsequent to his direct
appeal and first § 2255 motion, he cannot satisfy the
requirements of Wheeler. Specifically,
“Mathis did not announce a retroactively
applicable substantive change in the law.” Brooks
v. Bragg, 735 Fed.Appx. 108, 109 (4th Cir. 2018)
(concluding the petitioner could not use his § 2241
petition to challenge his ACCA sentence based on
Mathis); see also Cox v. Wilson, 740
Fed.Appx. 31, 32 (4th Cir. 2018) (“Mathis did
not announce a new, retroactively applicable rule.”).
Thus, Petitioner fails to satisfy the savings clause in 28
U.S.C. § 2255(e), and the Court must dismiss his §
2241 petition for lack of jurisdiction. See
Wheeler, 886 F.3d at 426 (noting “the savings
clause requirements are jurisdictional”).
certificate of appealability will not issue absent “a
substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional
right.” 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2). When the district
court denies relief on the merits, a prisoner satisfies this
standard by demonstrating reasonable jurists would find the
court's assessment of the constitutional claims is
debatable or wrong. Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473,
484 (2000); see Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322,
336-38 (2003). When the district court denies relief on
procedural grounds, the prisoner must demonstrate both that
the dispositive procedural ruling is debatable and that the
petition states a debatable claim of the denial of a
constitutional right. S ...