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Goins v. Flournoy

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Brunswick Division

May 8, 2017




         Petitioner Michael Goins (“Goins”), who is currently incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution-Low in Jesup, Georgia, filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. (Doc. 1.) Respondent filed a Motion to Dismiss, (doc. 7), to which Goins did not respond. For the reasons which follow, I hereby VACATE the Report and Recommendation entered on March 30, 2017, (doc. 9), and enter the following in its stead. For these same reasons, I RECOMMEND that the Court GRANT Respondent's Motion, DISMISS Goins' Section 2241 Petition, and DIRECT the Clerk of Court to CLOSE this case. I also RECOMMEND the Court DENY Goins in forma pauperis status on appeal.


         Goins was convicted in this Court, after entry of a guilty plea, of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute cocaine hydrochloride, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(C), and 846. The Honorable Dudley H. Bowen, Jr., sentenced Goins to 151 months' imprisonment. J., United States v. Goins, 3:14-cr-2 (S.D. Ga. May 25, 2015), ECF No. 345, pp. 1-2. Goins did not file a direct appeal.

         Goins filed a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. In that motion, Goins contended this Court abused its discretion in determining the drug quantity for which he was held accountable and his applicable offense level and by not awarding him a one-point reduction for having entered a plea. Mot., United States v. Goins, 3:14-cr-2 (S.D. Ga. Aug. 23, 2016), ECF No. 399, pp. 1-10. Goins alleged his counsel was ineffective for failing to obtain necessary records to show he did not obstruct justice willfully. (Id. at pp. 10- 11.) This Court dismissed Goins' motion as untimely filed. R. & R., Order, United States v. Goins, 3:14-cr-2 (S.D. Ga. Nov. 15, 2016, and Jan. 18, 2017), ECF Nos. 408, 418.

         Goins subsequently filed the instant Section 2241 Petition, to which Respondent filed a Motion to Dismiss. (Docs. 1, 7.) In his Motion to Dismiss, Respondent urged the Court to dismiss Goins' Petition because Goins did not cite to any new, retroactively applicable decision of the United States Supreme Court, nor did he claim Eleventh Circuit precedent foreclosed his contentions on an earlier occasion. In making these contentions, Respondent relied on the five-factor test set forth in Bryant v. Warden, FCC Coleman-Medium, 738 F.3d 1253, 1288 (11th Cir. 2013).[1] (Doc. 7, p. 5.) I recommended that the Court grant Respondent's Motion to Dismiss based on Goins' failure to meet all of Bryant's factors. (Doc. 9.) In response to my recommendation, Respondent alerted the Court to the fact that the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently eliminated the Bryant five-factor test in McCarthan v. Director of Goodwill Industries-Suncoast, Inc., 851 F.3d 1076 (11th Cir. 2017). (Doc. 10.) The Court now addresses Goins' Petition and Respondent's Motion to Dismiss in light of the McCarthan decision.


         In his current Petition, Goins contends his sentence was enhanced illegally because the Government failed to file a proper notice that it would seek a sentence enhancement. Goins asserts his counsel was ineffective, which invalidates his guilty plea. (Doc. 1, pp. 3, 4.) Goins alleges a fundamental miscarriage of justice occurred in his criminal proceedings, he is actually innocent of the crime to which he pled guilty, and this Court lacked jurisdiction over his criminal prosecution. (Id. at p. 4.) Goins also alleges he was denied due process. (Id. at p. 5.)

         Respondent contends that Goins cannot satisfy his burden of establishing entitlement to relief pursuant to Section 2255's saving clause, and his Petition should be dismissed as a result. Respondent states Goins' claims amount to nothing more than challenges to the validity of his sentence “that clearly are cognizable under § 2255.” (Doc. 10, p. 4.)

         I. Whether Goins can Proceed Pursuant to Section 2241

         Section 2241 habeas corpus petitions “are generally reserved for challenges to the execution of a sentence or the nature of confinement, not the validity of the sentence itself or the fact of confinement.” Vieux v. Warden, 616 F. App'x 891, 896 (11th Cir. 2015) (internal punctuation and citation omitted). Ordinarily, an action in which an individual seeks to collaterally attack “the validity of a federal sentence must be brought under § 2255, ” in the district of conviction. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a); Turner v. Warden Coleman FCI (Medium), 709 F.3d 1328, 1333 (11th Cir. 2013). To utilize Section 2241 to attack the validity of a federal sentence or conviction, a petitioner must show that the remedy afforded under Section 2255 is “inadequate or ineffective”. Taylor v. Warden, FCI Marianna, 557 F. App'x 911, 913 (11th Cir. 2014); Turner, 709 F.3d at 1333 (noting the petitioner bears the burden of establishing that the remedy under Section 2255 was inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of his detention). A motion to vacate covers only challenges to the validity of a sentence, but the saving clause and a petition for a writ of habeas corpus cover challenges to the execution of a sentence. Cf. Antonelli v. Warden, U.S.P. Atlanta, 542 F.3d 1348, 1351 n.1 (11th Cir. 2008) (“It is well-settled that a § 2255 motion to vacate is a separate and distinct remedy from habeas corpus proper. . . . A prisoner in custody pursuant to a federal court judgment may proceed under § 2241 only when he raises claims outside the scope of § 2255(a), that is, claims concerning execution of his sentence.”) (internal citations omitted)); United States v. Flores, 616 F.2d 840, 842 (5th Cir. 1980) (“[The prisoner's] appropriate remedy is under § 2255, not 28 U.S.C. § 2241, since the alleged errors occurred at or prior to sentencing.”).

         Section 2255(e) provides:

An application for a writ of habeas corpus in behalf of a prisoner who is authorized to apply for relief by motion pursuant to this section, shall not be entertained if it appears that the applicant has failed to apply for relief, by motion, to the court which sentenced him, or that such court has denied him relief, unless it also appears that the remedy by motion is inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of his detention.

28 U.S.C. § 2255(e) (emphasis added). The above-emphasized portion of Section 2255(e) is referred to as the “saving clause.” “Section 2255(e) makes clear that a motion to vacate is the exclusive mechanism for a federal prisoner to seek collateral relief unless he ...

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