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Baptiste v. Flournoy

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

October 19, 2017

WAYNE BAPTISTE, Petitioner,
v.
J.V. FLOURNOY, Warden, Respondent.

          ORDER AND MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          R. STAN BAKER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Petitioner Wayne Baptiste (“Baptiste”), who is currently incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution 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. 6), and Baptiste filed a Response, (doc. 8). For the reasons which follow, I RECOMMEND that the Court GRANT Respondent's Motion, DISMISS Baptiste's Section 2241 Petition, DIRECT the Clerk of Court to CLOSE this case and enter the appropriate judgment of dismissal, and DENY Baptiste in forma pauperis status on appeal.

         BACKGROUND

         A jury in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida convicted Baptiste of conspiring to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and cocaine base. (Doc. 6-3.) On June 6, 2000, the Southern District of Florida sentenced Baptiste to 360 months' imprisonment. (Doc. 6-4.) Baptiste appealed, and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed his convictions and sentence. (Doc. 6-5.)

         Since his convictions, Baptiste has brought numerous post-conviction motions and petitions attacking his conviction and sentence obtained in the Southern District of Florida in the various districts where he has been confined and in the Eleventh Circuit. See, e.g., Pet., Baptiste v. Pearson, 2:06-cv-2305 (W.D. Tenn. May 8, 2006), ECF No. 1; Mot., Baptiste v. United States, 1:08-cv-23070 (S.D. Fla. Nov. 4, 2008), ECF No. 1; Pet., Baptiste v. Rivera, 1:10-cv-2526 (D.S.C. Sep. 29, 2010), ECF No. 1; Mot., Baptiste v. United States, 1:16-cv-22660 (S.D. Fla. June 25, 2016), ECF No. 1; Appl., In re Baptiste, No. 11-13321 (11th Cir. July 25, 2011); Appl., In re Baptiste, No. 16-12477 (11th Cir. May 16, 2016); Appl., In re Baptiste, No. 16-13589 (11th Cir. June 14, 2016).

         Undeterred by his well-established track record of defeat, Baptiste has now filed yet another Section 2241 Petition in this Court attacking his sentence on numerous grounds. (Doc. 1.) His contentions include: that the sentencing court applied an invalid mandatory Guideline range, in violation of his rights under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments; that the court labeled him a career offender based on a “non existent” predicate offense and thereby improperly enhanced his sentence; and that this Court should revisit his sentence by applying the United States Sentencing Guidelines as advisory rather than mandatory. (Id. at pp. 7-8.) As relief, Baptiste requests “to be sentence [sic] to a base offense level of 36 guideline range of 324 months or immediate release.” (Id. at p. 8.)

         Respondent moves to dismiss Baptiste's Petition, contending that he does not satisfy the requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e)'s “saving clause” in light of the Eleventh Circuit's decision in McCarthan v. Director of Goodwill Industries-Suncoast, Inc., 851 F.3d 1076 (11th Cir. 2017). (Doc. 6.) Baptiste filed a Response to the Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. 8.)

         DISCUSSION

         I. Whether Baptiste 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 Fed.Appx. 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 Fed.Appx. 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 can satisfy” the saving clause. McCarthan, 851 F.3d at 1081.

         After McCarthan, to determine whether a prisoner satisfies the saving clause, a court need only analyze “whether the motion to vacate is an adequate procedure to test the prisoner's claim.” Id. at 1086. To answer this question, a court should “ask whether the prisoner would have been permitted to bring that claim in a motion to vacate. In other words, a prisoner has a meaningful opportunity to test his claim whenever section 2255 can provide him a remedy.” Id. at 1086-87. In short, when reviewing a Section 2241 petition, courts should look to whether the petitioner's claim is of a kind that is “cognizable” under Section 2255. If so, the petitioner cannot meet the “saving clause” and cannot proceed under Section 2241. To be sure, “[t]he remedy [afforded] by [a Section 2255] motion is not ineffective unless the procedure it provides is incapable of adjudicating the claim.” Id. at 1088. Whether the petitioner could ...


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