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Artis v. Ortiz

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

February 6, 2019

DAVID ORTIZ, Respondent.

          Eddie Ralph Artis, Jr., Petitioner Pro se

          John Andrew Ruymann, Esq. Mark E. Coyne, Esq. Office of the U.S. Attorney Counsel for Respondent


          Hillman, District Judge.

         Petitioner Eddie Ralph Artis, Jr., a prisoner presently confined at the Federal Correctional Institution (“FCI”) in Fort Dix, New Jersey, filed this Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241, challenging the validity of his sentence. ECF No. 1. Respondent filed an Answer to the Petition in which he argues that the Petition should be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. ECF No. 7. Petitioner filed a reply to the Answer, ECF No. 10, and the Petition is now ripe for disposition. For the reasons that follow, the Court will dismiss the Petition for lack of jurisdiction.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In March 2012, Petitioner pled guilty in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to a superseding one-count information charging him with conspiring to distribute more than twenty-eight (28) grams of crack cocaine, contrary to 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(B) and in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 860. No. 3:12-cr-174, ECF Nos. 15 (information), 16 (minute entry for change of plea hearing before magistrate judge), 19 (plea agreement), 24 (order finding Petitioner guilty) (E.D. Va.). That offense carried a statutory range of five to forty years' imprisonment. ECF No. 19 at 1 (plea agreement). In exchange for his agreement to enter that plea, the Government agreed to drop certain counts in the indictment charging him with possessing a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) and conspiring to distribute more than 280 grams of crack cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 860. See id. at 5. If convicted of those two charges, Petitioner would have faced a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of fifteen years and a maximum term of imprisonment of life plus life. No. 18-cv-14220, ECF NO. 7 at 1 (D.N.J.).

         As part of his plea agreement, Petitioner waived his right not to appeal his conviction or any sentence within the statutory range. No. 3:12-cr-174, ECF No. 19 at 3-4 (E.D. Va.). The plea agreement did not contain a collateral attack waiver. See generally id.

         In June 2013, the Eastern District of Virginia sentenced Petitioner to 156 months' imprisonment. Id., ECF No. 33 (judgment of conviction). Petitioner did not file an appeal. He did, however, later file a motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to collaterally attack his conviction and sentence, on the grounds that his attorney should have moved to suppress certain evidence and should have negotiated a better plea bargain. Id., ECF No. 36. The court dismissed the § 2255 motion as untimely. Id., ECF Nos. 49 (opinion), 50 (order). In a separate order, the court reduced Petitioner's sentence to 125 months' imprisonment under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) in light of a retroactive amendment to the drug quantity table in U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1. ECF No. 46 (memorandum order).

         In June 2018, Petitioner sought leave from the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to file a second § 2255 motion arguing that he deserved a chance to litigate whether his trial counsel was ineffective for not objecting to enhancements under U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1(b)(1) and (b)(12), not challenging certain criminal history points, and not negotiating a guilty plea to a more favorable statutory range. No. 18-cv-14220, ECF No. 7 (D.N.J.). According to Petitioner, a “fundamental miscarriage of justice” had occurred “as a result of an ineligible application of the guidelines for enhancement purposes.” Id. The Fourth Circuit denied his application on July 11, 2018, without requiring any response from the government. No. 3:12-cr-174, ECF No. 53 (E.D. Va.).

         On September 20, 2018, Petitioner filed the instant § 2241 Petition. No. 18-cv-14220, ECF No. 1 (D.N.J.). In his brief supporting the Petition, Petitioner argues that his initial sentence resulted from an incorrect advisory Guidelines range and that his counsel was ineffective for not objecting to that range or for not appealing the resulting sentence. ECF No. 1-2 at 3-7. He also asserts that he would have prevailed in a direct appeal had the plain error standard of review been applied in accordance with Molina-Martinez v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 1338 (2016), and Rosales-Mirales v. United States, 138 S.Ct. 1897 (2018). ECF No. 1-2 at 4-5, 7-8.


         A. Legal Standard

         United States Code Title 28, Section 2243, provides in relevant part as follows:

A court, justice or judge entertaining an application for a 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 ...

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