United States District Court, D. New Jersey
LAWRENCE E. MAHER, Petitioner,
FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS, Respondent.
B. KUGLER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
is a federal prisoner currently incarcerated at F.C.I. Fort
Dix in Fort Dix, New Jersey. He is proceeding pro se
with a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2241. For the following reasons, the habeas
petition will be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.
April 6, 2005, Petitioner was found guilty of possession with
intent to distribute cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C.
§ 841(a)(1), in the United States District Court for the
District of Maine. (ECF No. 1 at pp. 1, 13). Petitioner was
sentenced to 262 months' imprisonment. (See Id.
at p. 13). Thereafter, Petitioner filed a § 2255 habeas
petition arguing that he was denied effective assistance of
counsel, which was denied by the District Court of Maine.
(See Id. at p. 4).
has now filed a habeas petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
2241 (the “Petition”) in this Court. Petitioner
claims that he unlawfully received a two-level sentence
enhancement for possession of a firearm that was not in his
indictment. (See Id. at pp. 12-14). Petitioner
requests that this Court vacate his sentence and resentence
him to preclude the enhancement for the firearm. (See
Id. at pp. 18-19).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
corpus petitions must meet heightened pleading
requirements.” McFarland v. Scott, 512 U.S.
849, 856 (1994). A petition must “specify all the
grounds for relief” and set forth “facts
supporting each of the grounds thus specified.” 28
U.S.C. § 2254 Rule 2(c) (amended Dec. 1, 2004),
applicable to § 2241 petitions through Habeas Rule 1(b).
A court presented with a petition for writ of habeas corpus
“shall forthwith award the writ or issue an order
directing the respondent to show cause why the writ should
not be granted, unless it appears from the application that
the applicant or person detained is not entitled
there.” 28 U .S.C. § 2243. Thus, “[f]ederal
courts are authorized to dismiss summarily any habeas
petition that appears legally insufficient on its
face.” McFarland, 512 U.S. at 856; see
also United States v. Thomas, 221 F.3d 430, 437 (3d Cir.
2000); Siers v. Ryan, 773 F.2d 37, 45 (3d Cir.
1985). “[A] district court is authorized to dismiss a
[habeas] petition summarily when it plainly appears from the
face of the petition and any exhibits annexed to it that the
petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district
court[.]” Lonchar v. Thomas, 517 U.S. 314, 320
is challenging the sentence he received in the District Court
of Maine in this § 224 federal habeas action. Generally,
a challenge to the validity of a federal conviction or
sentence must be brought under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. See
Jackman v. Shartle, 535 Fed.Appx. 87, 88 (3d Cir. 2013)
(citing Okereke v. United States, 307 F.3d 117, 120
(3d Cir. 2002)). This is generally true because § 2255
prohibits a district court from entertaining a challenge to a
prisoner's federal sentence through § 2241 unless
the remedy under § 2255 is “inadequate or
ineffective.” See 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e).
Indeed, § 2255(e) states that:
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 a
court has denied him relief, unless it also appears that the
remedy by the motion is inadequate or ineffective to test the
legality of his detention.
28 U.S.C. § 2255(e). A § 2255 motion is
“inadequate or ineffective, ” which permits a
petitioner to resort to a § 2241 petition, “only
where the petitioner demonstrates that some limitation or
procedure would prevent a § 2255 proceeding from
affording him a full hearing and adjudication of his wrongful
detention claim.” Cradle v. U.S. ex rel.
Miner, 290 F.3d 536, 538 (3d Cir. 2002) (citations
omitted). However, “[s]ection 2255 is not inadequate or
ineffective merely because the sentencing court does not
grant relief, the one-year statute of limitations has
expired, or the petitioner is unable to meet the stringent
gatekeeping requirements of ... § 2255.”
Id. At 539 (citations omitted). “It is the
inefficacy of the remedy, not the personal inability to use
it, that is determinative.” Id. at 538
(citation omitted). “The provision exists to ensure
that petitioners have a fair opportunity to seek collateral
relief, not to enable them to evade procedural
requirements.” Id. at 539 (citing In re
Dorsainvil, 119 F.3d 245, 251-52 (3d Cir. 1997)).
Dorsainvil, the Third Circuit held that the remedy
provided by § 2255 is “inadequate or ineffective,
” permitting resort to § 2241, where a prisoner
who previously had filed a § 2255 motion on other
grounds “had no earlier opportunity to challenge his
conviction for a crime that an intervening change in
substantive law may negate[.]” 119 F.3d at 251.
Nevertheless, the Third Circuit emphasized that its holding
was not suggesting that a § 2255 motion was
“inadequate or ineffective” merely because a
petitioner is unable to meet the strict gatekeeping
requirements of § 2255. See Id. The
“safety valve, ” as stated in
Dorsainvil, is a narrow one and has been held to
apply in situations where the prisoner has had no prior
opportunity to challenge his conviction for a crime later
deemed to be non-criminal by an intervening change in the
law. See Okereke, 307 F.3d at 120 (citing
Dorsainvil, 119 F.3d at 251).
Petitioner argues that the District Court of Maine unlawfully
enhanced his sentence by adding a firearm violation that was
not included in his indictment. (See ECF No. 1 at
pp. 12-14). In making his arguments, Petitioner relies on
Alleyne v. United States, 570 U.S. 99, 102 (2013),
wherein the Supreme Court held that any fact that increases a
mandatory minimum sentence for a crime is an element of the
crime that must be submitted to the jury and found beyond a
does not allege facts sufficient to bring him within the
Dorsainvil exception. Petitioner does not allege
that he is actually innocent of the underlying crime due to a
retroactive change in substantive law that negates the
criminality of his conduct. Rather, Petitioner's claim is
that the district court improperly gave him a sentencing
enhancement. Such an argument is insufficient to fall within
the Dorsainvil exception as it relates to an
argument that Petitioner is actually innocent of a sentencing
enhancement as opposed to being actually innocent of the
crime for which he was convicted. See, e.g., United
States v. Brown, 456 Fed.Appx. 79, 81 (3d Cir. 2012)
(“We have held that § 2255's ‘safety
valve' applies only in rare circumstances, such as when
an intervening change in the statute under which the
petitioner was convicted renders the petitioner's conduct
non-criminal. Brown has not satisfied that standard here, as
he makes no allegation that he is actually innocent of the
crime for which he was convicted, but instead asserts only
that he is ‘innocent' of being a career
offender.” (internal citation omitted)), cert.
denied, 568 U.S. 857 (2012); Selby v. Scism,
453 Fed.Appx. 266, 268 (3d Cir. 2011) (“Selby does not
argue that he is innocent of the offense for which he was
convicted; he argues that he is ‘innocent' of a
sentencing enhancement because of an intervening change in
law. Accordingly, the exception described in Inre Dorsainvil does not apply.”); Robinson
v. Hollingsworth, No. 13-0101, 2013 WL 141441, at *2
(D.N.J. Jan. 11, 2013) (“Section 2255 is not inadequate
or ineffective for Robinson's challenge to his sentencing
enhancement as a career offender, however, because he ...