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Sandusky v. Goetz

United States District Court, D. Colorado

December 11, 2018

AARON SANDUSKY, Applicant,
v.
GOETZ, Warden, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          LEWIS T. BABCOCK, SENIOR JUDGE.

         Applicant, Aaron Sandusky, is in the custody of the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) at the Federal Prison Camp in Florence, Colorado. He initiated this action on June 8, 2018, by filing pro se a “Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus 2241.” (ECF No. 1). Pursuant to an Order Directing Applicant to Cure Deficiencies (ECF No. 3), Mr. Sandusky paid the $5.00 filing fee on July 16, 2018 (ECF No. 4), and filed an [Amended] Application for a Writ of Habeas Corpus Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 on the court-approved form on August 9, 2018. (ECF No. 7)

         I. Background and Procedural History

         In 2012, Mr. Sandusky was convicted by a jury in the United States District Court for the Central District of California of conspiracy to manufacture and possession with the intent to distribute more than 1, 000 marijuana plants, and possession with the intent to distribute at least 50 kilograms of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of marijuana. (ECF No. 7 at 3). The convictions were based on Applicant's activities as the president of a California-based Medical Marijuana Cooperative. (Id.). Applicant was sentenced to a 120-month prison term. See United States v. Sandusky, No. 13-50025, 564 Fed.Appx. 282 (9th Cir. March 17, 2014). His convictions and sentence were affirmed on direct appeal. See Id. The United States Supreme Court denied Applicant's petition for certiorari review in 2016. See Sandusky v. United States, 137 S.Ct. 604 (Dec. 12, 2016). Mr. Sandusky thereafter filed a motion to vacate, set aside or correct sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, which was denied. See Sandusky v. United States, No. 15-4352-PA (Criminal Action No. 12-cr-548-PA), 2015 WL 12724077 (C.D. Ca. Nov. 2, 2015). In the § 2255 motion, Applicant asserted the following claim for relief:

Petitioner's continued incarceration violates § 538 of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015, Pub. L. No. 113-235, § 538, 128 Stat. 2130, 2217 (2014), which provides that no “funds made available ... to the Department of Justice may be used, with respect to the [State] of ... California ... to prevent [California] from implementing [its] own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana” because his continued incarceration has a chilling effect on the operation of marijuana dispensaries in California; . . . .

Id. at *2. The sentencing court rejected this claim as being outside the scope of § 2255, stating: “Nothing about Petitioner's § 538 challenge implicates the Court's jurisdiction to impose the sentence or plausibly supports an inference that the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, or exceeded the maximum authorized by law. Id. at *6. The district court further held that the claim failed on its merits, reasoning that “Petitioner's continued incarceration simply does not violate § 538 because it is not an expenditure of funds by the Department of Justice that prevents California from implementing laws authorizing the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.” Id. Applicant did not seek a certificate of appealability from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. (ECF No. 7 at 5).

         Mr. Sandusky filed a § 2241 action in this Court on June 8, 2018. In the [Amended] Application, he claims that the BOP's expenditure of funds to incarcerate him “violates § 538 of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015, Pub. L. No. 113-235 and its successor, § 542 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, Pub. L. No. 115-31.” (ECF No. 7 at 3). For relief, Applicant requests an evidentiary hearing to determine whether his actions were wholly compliant with California state medical marijuana laws at the time he was charged and convicted of the federal crimes; and, if the court so finds, a determination that the BOP's continuing expenditure of funds to incarcerate him is unlawful and requires his immediate release. (Id. at 7, 12).

         On August 20, 2018, Magistrate Judge Gordon P. Gallagher ordered the Respondent to file a preliminary response to the [Amended] Application addressing any jurisdictional issues and procedural defenses. (ECF No. 8). After obtaining an extension of time, Respondent filed a preliminary response on October 9, 2018. (ECF No. 15). Applicant filed a reply on October 17, 2018 (ECF No. 16; see also supplemental reply, ECF No. 17).

         II. Statutory Jurisdiction

         Mr. Sandusky brings his claims under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. The statute provides that “the writ of habeas corpus shall not extend to a prisoner unless . . . he is in custody . . . in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3). “A petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 attacks the execution of a sentence rather than its validity and must be filed in the district where the prisoner is confined.” Bradshaw v. Story, 86 F.3d 164, 166 (10th Cir. 1996).

         By contrast, a prisoner's claim arises under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 if it is based on the following grounds:

the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, or that the court was without jurisdiction to impose such sentence, or that the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law, or is otherwise subject to collateral attack.

28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). “A 28 U.S.C. § 2255 petition attacks the legality of detention . . . and must be filed in the district that imposed the sentence.” Bradshaw, 86 F.3d at 166 (citation omitted). “The purpose of section 2255 is to provide a method of determining the validity of a judgment by the court which imposed the sentence, rather than by the court in the district where the prisoner is confined.” Johnson v. Taylor, 347 F.2d 365, 366 (10th Cir. 1965) (per curiam).

         A habeas corpus application 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). Rather, “the so-called “savings clause” contained in § 2255(e), . . . permits a federal prisoner to proceed under § 2241 [only] when the remedy under § 2255 is “inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of his detention.” Abernathy v. Wands,713 F.3d 538 (10th Cir. 2013)). See also Prost v. Anderson, 636 F.3d 578, 583-84 (10th Cir. 2011). The remedy available pursuant to § 2255 is inadequate or ineffective only in “extremely limited circumstances.” Caravalho v. Pugh, 177 F.3d 1177, 1178 (10th Cir. 1999). It is the petitioner's burden to show that he meets § 2255(e)'s savings clause. Prost, 636 F.3d at ...


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