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Arnold v. Warden Ft Dix

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

April 9, 2018

CURTIS L. ARNOLD, Petitioner,
WARDEN FT DIX, Respondent.

          Curtis L. Arnold, Petitioner pro se




         Curtis L. Arnold, a federal prisoner confined at FCI Fort Dix, New Jersey, has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, requesting his status as a career offender be removed from his judgment of conviction and that he be resentenced accordingly. Petition, Docket Entry 1. For the reasons expressed below, this Court will dismiss the petition for lack of jurisdiction.


         On December 19, 2005, Petitioner was sentenced as a career offender in the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina. Petition ¶ 4.

         Petitioner challenged his sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 in the sentencing court based on a new Fourth Circuit case, United States v. Simmons, 649 F.3d 237 (4th Cir. 2011) (en banc) (holding North Carolina convictions are “crimes punishable by a term of imprisonment exceeding one year” for federal sentencing purposes only when the defendant's particular criminal history and the nature of his offense warrant). The § 2255 motion was denied on March 30, 2015. Petition ¶ 6. He appealed the decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit arguing that he could no longer be considered a career offender in light of Simmons. Id. ¶ 7. The Fourth Circuit denied a certificate of appealability on August 25, 2015. Id. He states he did not file a second challenge because there was “[n]o was around the Government enforcement of the waiver for relief under a Simmons claim for relief of a career offender status on collateral review.” Id. ¶ 8(b).

         Petitioner filed other Simmons-based challenges to his career offender status in addition to his § 2255 proceedings. On November 23, 2011, Petitioner filed a motion for a sentence reduction under 18 U.S.C. § 3583 arguing that Simmons rendered his prior North Carolina convictions inapplicable as predicate offenses for the career offender enhancement. Id. ¶ 12. The sentencing court denied the motion. Id. Petitioner also filed a motion “to amend the Statement of Reasons for his sentence to remove the finding that he is a career offender” based on Simmons on an unknown date, but the motion was denied by the sentencing court. Order, Docket Entry 1-1 at 2. The sentencing court denied the motion on September 17, 2015 as “[t]his claim was previously raised under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 and denied. The defendant has not provided any basis in law to attack his sentence by altering the Statement of Reasons.” Id.

         Petitioner filed the instant petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 on September 1, 2017.[1] This Court administratively terminated the petition on September 13, 2017 for failure to pay the filing fee or submit an in forma pauperis application. Docket Entry 2. Petitioner paid the filing fee on October 23, 2017, and the Court reopened the matter for review.

         Petitioner raises four grounds for relief, all relating to his career offender status: (1) “Petitioner's prior North Carolina convictions were consolidated for Judgment under the North Carolina Structured Sentencing Act results in a single sentence that may serve only as one sentence for purpose of determining whether a defendant is a career offender, ”; (2) “Intervening change in Fourth Circuit law of determine [sic] whether a conviction is for a crime punishable by a prison term exceeding one year. Simmons decision overturn the Fourth Circuit controlling authority of U.S. v. Harp, making Harp no longer good law, ”; (3) “At the preparation of the P.S.R. the utilization of inaccurate information effect the execution of Petitioner's sentence by determining that the prior North Carolina convictions qualified as a predicate felony for the career offender statute and 851, ” and; (4) “Petitioner's prior offenses do not qualify as Predicate felonies under Simmons the enhancement is erroneous and in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Constitution by the unlawful execution of the career offender designation. Petitioner[‘s] sentence constituted fundamental defect and a miscarriage of justice.” He asks the Court to release him and to reduce his term of supervised release. Petition ¶ 15.


         Petitioner brings this petition as a pro se litigant. The Court has an obligation to liberally construe pro se pleadings and to hold them to less stringent standards than more formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Higgs v. Attorney Gen. of the U.S., 655 F.3d 333, 339 (3d Cir. 2011), as amended (Sept. 19, 2011) (citing Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)). A pro se habeas petition and any supporting submissions must be construed liberally and with a measure of tolerance. See Royce v. Hahn, 151 F.3d 116, 118 (3d Cir. 1998); Lewis v. Attorney Gen., 878 F.2d 714, 721-22 (3d Cir. 1989); United States v. Brierley, 414 F.2d 552, 555 (3d Cir. 1969), cert. denied, 399 U.S. 912 (1970).

         Nevertheless, a federal district court must dismiss a habeas corpus petition if it appears from the face of the petition that the petitioner is not entitled to relief. 28 U.S.C. § 2254 Rule 4 (made applicable through Rule 1(b)); see also McFarland v. Scott, 512 U.S. 849, 856 (1994); Siers v. Ryan, 773 F.2d 37, 45 (3d Cir. 1985), cert. denied, 490 U.S. 1025 (1989).

         IV.ANALY ...

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