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Gleaton v. Ortiz

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

February 11, 2019

JEROME D. GLEATON, Petitioner,
v.
DAVID ORTIZ, Respondent.

          Jerome D. Gleaton, No. 40265-007 FCI - Ft. Dix Petitioner Pro se

          John Andrew Ruymann, Esq. John Tudor Stinson, Jr., Esq. Office of the U.S. Attorney Counsel for Respondent

          OPINION

          NOEL L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.

         Petitioner Jerome D. Gleaton, 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 a Motion to Dismiss the Petition in which he argues that the Petition should be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. ECF No. 9. Petitioner filed an opposition to the Motion, ECF No. 12, and the Motion is now ripe for disposition. For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant the Motion and dismiss the Petition for lack of jurisdiction.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On April 1, 2012, Petitioner was arrested in possession of more than $120, 000 in drug proceeds. No. 3:12-cr-63, ECF No. 1 (criminal complaint) (E.D. Va.). Later that month, a federal grand jury indicted Petitioner for attempting to possess with intent to distribute one hundred grams or more of heroin in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846, a crime with a statutory minimum sentence of five years' imprisonment and a maximum sentence of forty years' imprisonment. Id., ECF No. 8 (indictment). See 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(B). Petitioner pled guilty to the lesser offense of attempting to possess with the intent to distribute a detectable amount of heroin in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846 pursuant to a plea agreement. Id., ECF Nos. 18 (information), 19 (minute entry for change of plea hearing), 21 (plea agreement). The plea agreement contained an appellate waiver that would preclude Petitioner's ability to appeal his conviction and sentence, including the manner in which the sentence was determined, if he was sentenced within the statutory maximum of twenty years' imprisonment. See id., ECF No. 21 at 1 (statutory maximum), 3-4 (appellate waiver). The plea agreement did not contain a collateral attack waiver. See id.

         At the time Petitioner pled guilty, he had two prior felony drug trafficking convictions. Id., ECF No. 39 at 3. Those two priors were utilized in Petitioner's presentence report to qualify him as a career offender and enhance his sentence under the Guidelines. Before sentencing, the parties submitted sentencing memoranda. The Government argued in favor of an advisory range sentence, which was calculated as between 151 and 180 months. Id., ECF No. 27. Petitioner's memorandum expressly raised no objections to the presentence investigation report. Id., ECF No. 28.

         On October 17, 2012, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia sentenced Petitioner to 160 months of imprisonment, within the advisory range as outlined in the presentence report. Id., ECF No. 30. Petitioner did not file an appeal.

         On July 8, 2013, Petitioner filed a motion with his sentencing court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 challenging his sentence. Id., ECF No. 33. In the motion and supporting documents, Petitioner challenged the “career offender” Guidelines enhancement premised on prior drug trafficking convictions. See id., ECF No. 35 at 17-18; ECF No. 42 at 1-2; ECF No. 43. His motion was denied. Id., ECF No. 44. Petitioner sought to appeal the denial of his motion to the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. However, the Fourth Circuit denied him a certificate of appealability, precluding his appeal. United States v. Gleaton, 670 Fed.Appx. 812 (4th Cir. 2016).

         Petitioner then filed the instant Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 on May 21, 2018.[1] No. 18-cv-9581, ECF No. 1 (D.N.J.). In the Petition, Petitioner again challenges his career offender designation under the Guidelines. In support of his argument, Petitioner alleges that his prior conviction under the Criminal Code of the District of Columbia for attempted distribution of cocaine does not qualify as a predicate offense for the career offender enhancement under the Guidelines. He asserts that he may bring this claim in this petition through § 2255's saving clause provision because of “recent case law that changed the way court's [sic] interpret such statutes, ” specifically United States v. Wheeler, 886 F.3d 415 (4th Cir. 2018). ECF No. 1-1 at 2.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Legal Standard

         Title 28, Section 2243 of the United States Code 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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