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Burnette v. Rhodes

United States District Court, D. Colorado

December 23, 2015

T.K. COZZA RHODES, Respondent.


Lewis T. Babcock, Senior Judge United States District Court

Applicant, Solomon Eddie Burnette, is a prisoner in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) who currently is incarcerated at the United States Penitentiary in Florence, Colorado. Mr. Burnette has filed pro se an Application for a Writ of Habeas Corpus Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 (ECF No. 1) challenging the validity of his conviction and sentence.

The Court must construe the habeas corpus application liberally because Mr. Burnette is not represented by an attorney. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972); Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991). However, the Court should not be an advocate for a pro se litigant. See Hall, 935 F.2d at 1110. The Court may take judicial notice of its own records and files that are part of the Court’s public records. See St. Louis Baptist Temple, Inc. v. Fed. Deposit Ins. Corp., 605 F.2d 1169, 1172 (10th Cir. 1979).

On November 12, 2015, Magistrate Judge Gordon P. Gallagher ordered Applicant show cause in writing within thirty (30) days from the date of this order why the habeas corpus application should not be denied because he had an adequate and effective remedy pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Mr. Burnette failed to respond to that order. For the reasons stated below, this action will be dismissed.

Mr. Burnette was convicted, in the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee on four counts of drug related charges. See United States v. Burnette, No 02:95-cr-20082. As noted above, Mr. Burnette is challenging the validity of his conviction and sentence in this habeas corpus action. Even if his allegations were sufficient, they relate to his conviction and sentencing, not the execution of his sentence. These claims may not be raised in a habeas corpus action under § 2241.

The purposes of an application for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to § 2241 and a motion pursuant to § 2255 are distinct and well established. “A petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 attacks the execution of a sentence rather than its validity” and “[a] 28 U.S.C. § 2255 petition attacks the legality of detention.” Bradshaw v. Story, 86 F.3d 164, 166 (10th Cir. 1996). A habeas corpus petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 “is not an additional, alternative, or supplemental remedy, to the relief afforded by motion in the sentencing court under § 2255.” Williams v. United States, 323 F.2d 672, 673 (10th Cir. 1963) (per curiam). Instead, “[t]he exclusive remedy for testing the validity of a judgment and sentence, unless it is inadequate or ineffective, is that provided for in 28 U.S.C. § 2255.” Johnson v. Taylor, 347 F.2d 365, 366 (10th Cir. 1965); see 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e).

Mr. Burnette bears the burden of demonstrating that the remedy available pursuant to § 2255 is inadequate or ineffective. See Prost v. Anderson, 636 F.3d 578, 584 (10th Cir. 2011). This burden is not easily satisfied because “[o]nly in rare instances will § 2255 fail as an adequate or effective remedy to challenge a conviction or the sentence imposed.” Sines v. Wilner, 609 F.3d 1070, 1073 (10th Cir. 2010); see also Caravalho v. Pugh, 177 F.3d 1177, 1178 (10th Cir. 1999) (noting that the remedy available pursuant to § 2255 is inadequate or ineffective only in “extremely limited circumstances”). The test for determining whether the remedy provided in the sentencing court pursuant to § 2255 is inadequate or ineffective is whether Mr. Burnette’s claim could have been raised in an initial § 2255 motion. See Prost, 636 F.3d at 584. “If the answer is yes, then the petitioner may not resort to the savings clause [in § 2255(e)] and § 2241.” Id.

The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit explained the limited nature of § 2241 relief in In re Dorsainvil, 119 F.3d 245 (3d Cir.1997). In that case, the Petitioner, Dorsainvil, had been convicted of a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1), which imposes punishment upon a person who "during and in relation to any ... drug trafficking crime ... uses or carries a firearm." At his trial, Dorsainvil testified that he possessed the gun but denied that the gun was related in any way to the drug transaction, stating that he bought it for protection while living in Florida. The jury convicted him on all counts. Thereafter in 1993, Dorsainvil unsuccessfully sought collateral relief from his sentence under 28 U .S.C. § 2255 on the grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel and double jeopardy. In December of 1995, the Supreme Court decided Bailey v. United States, 516 U.S. 137, 150 (1995), wherein it held that the "use" language in 21 U.S.C. § 924 required the government to prove that the defendant "actively employed the firearm during and in relation to the predicate crime." Sometime in the summer of 1996, Dorsainvil filed a second § 2255 petition in the district court. In his second 2255 motion, Dorsainvil asserted that there was insufficient evidence to show that he actively employed a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking crime and, as a consequence, his conviction under 21 U.S.C. § 924 was unlawful.

The district court ruled that it did not have jurisdiction to address Dorsainvil's second 2255 motion due to the new "gate-keeping" provisions enacted in the AEDPA. In this regard, Congress enacted "gatekeeping" provisions in the AEDPA to prohibit prisoners from filing successive actions in federal court for collateral relief. The new provisions require a prisoner to obtain a certification from a three judge panel of the appropriate court of appeals before a successive motion for collateral relief may be considered by a federal district court.

With respect to federal prisoners such as Applicant, Congress amended 28 U.S.C. § 2255, in pertinent part, as follows.

A second or successive motion must be certified as provided in section 2244 by a panel of the appropriate court of appeals to contain-
(1) newly discovered evidence that, if proven and viewed in light of the evidence as a whole, would be sufficient to establish by clear and convincing evidence that no reasonable factfinder would have found the movant guilty of the offense; or
(2) a new rule of constitutional law, made retroactive to cases on collateral review by the Supreme Court, ...

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