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Sawyers v. Warden, FCI Jesup

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

January 25, 2018

RAYSHAWN LEWMAR SAWYERS, Petitioner,
v.
WARDEN, FCI JESUP, Respondent.

          ORDER and MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          R. STAN BAKER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Petitioner Rayshawn Lewmar Saywers (“Sawyers”), who is currently incarcerated at the Satellite Camp, Williamsburg in Salters, South Carolina, filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. (Doc. 1.) Respondent filed a Motion to Dismiss, (doc. 5), and Sawyers filed a Response, (doc. 6). For the following reasons, I RECOMMEND that the Court GRANT Respondent's Motion, DISMISS Sawyers' Section 2241 Petition, DIRECT the Clerk of Court to CLOSE this case and enter the appropriate judgment of dismissal, and DENY Sawyers in forma pauperis status on appeal.

         BACKGROUND

         Sawyers pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, conspiracy to launder money, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking offense in the Western District of Virginia on or about July 30, 2010. (Doc. 5-1.) At the sentencing hearing, with the agreement of Sawyers' counsel and the Government, the Court sentenced Sawyers to a total of 300 months imprisonment, 240 concurrent months on each of the two conspiracy convictions plus 60 consecutive months on the possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug- trafficking offense conviction. (Doc. 5-2, pp. 3-4.) The court subsequently reduced Sawyers's sentence to a total of 210 months, 150 concurrent months on each of the two conspiracy counts plus 60 consecutive months on the firearm count, due to retroactive changes to the sentencing guidelines and Sawyers substantial assistance to law enforcement. (Doc. 5-4.)

         Sawyers then sought to attack his sentence through a 28 U.S.C. § 2255 motion in his sentencing court. Motion, United States v. Sawyers, et al., No. 4:10-cr-3 (E.D. Va. Oct. 19, 2015), ECF No. 307. That court denied Sawyers' motion and denied him a certificate of appealability. Order, United States v. Sawyers, et al., No. 4:10-cr-3 (E.D. Va. March 14, 2016), ECF No. 315.

         Sawyers has now filed a Section 2241 Petition in this Court attacking his sentence. (Doc. 1.) He contends that his conviction for possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime violated due process under Dean v. United States, 137 S.Ct. 1170 (2017). (Id. at p. 7.)

         Respondent moves to dismiss Sawyers' Petition, contending that he does not satisfy the requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e)'s “saving clause” in light of the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit's decision in McCarthan v. Director of Goodwill Industries-Suncoast, Inc., 851 F.3d 1076 (11th Cir. 2017). (Doc. 5, pp. 3-8.) Additionally, Respondent contends that Sawyers waived his right to collaterally attack his sentence in his plea agreement and that his Petition fails on the merits. (Id. at pp. 8-12.) Sawyers filed a Response in which he concedes that under the Eleventh Circuit's interpretation of the saving clause in McCarthan, he cannot use Section 2241's to attack his sentence. (Doc. 6.) However, Sawyers contends that there is a split amongst the federal circuits on this issue, and he seeks to preserve his arguments for appeal. (Id.)

         DISCUSSION

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

         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. 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 ...


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