United States District Court, D. New Jersey
LAWRENCE E. MAHER, Petitioner,
FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS, Respondent.
B. KUGLER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Lawrence E. Maher 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. On May 7,
2018, the Court dismissed the Petition for lack of
jurisdiction. (ECF Nos. 4 & 5). Currently before the
Court is Petitioner's motion for reconsideration. (ECF
No. 8). For the following reasons, the Court will deny
Petitioner's motion for reconsideration.
discussed more thoroughly in the Court's May 7, 2018,
Opinion (ECF No. 4), on 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 1;
ECF No. 1-1, at 4). Petitioner received a sentence of 262
months' imprisonment. (ECF No. 1-1, at 4). Thereafter,
Petitioner filed a § 2255 motion arguing that he did not
receive effective assistance of counsel. The District Court
of Maine denied his motion. (ECF No. 1, at 4).
then filed a habeas Petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
2241 (the “Petition”) in this Court and claimed
that he unlawfully received a two-level sentence enhancement
for possession of a firearm that was not in his indictment.
He then requested that this Court vacate his sentence and
resentence him to preclude the firearm enhancement.
screening the Petition, the Court found that § 2255 was
not inadequate or ineffective to address Petitioner's
sentencing enhancement claim and as a result, dismissed the
§ 2241 Petition for lack of jurisdiction.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Civil Rule 7.1(i) governs motions under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 59(e) and allows parties to seek reconsideration
of what they believe are “overlooked” matters.
See Carney v. Pennsauken Twp. Police Dep't, No.
11-7366, 2013 WL 4501454, at *1 (D.N.J. Aug. 21, 2013).
“The standard for reargument is high” and courts
should “only sparingly” grant reconsideration.
Yarrell v. Bartkowski, No. 10-5337, 2012 WL 1600316,
at *3 (D.N.J. May 7, 2012) (citing United States v.
Jones, 158 F.R.D. 309, 314 (D.N.J. 1994)). To be
successful on a motion for reconsideration, a party has the
burden to demonstrate: “(1) an intervening change in
the controlling law; (2) the availability of new evidence
that was not available when the court [issued its order]; or
(3) the need to correct a clear error of law or fact or to
prevent manifest injustice.” Max's Seafood
Café ex rel. Lou-Ann, Inc. v. Quinteros, 176 F.3d
669, 677 (3d Cir. 1999).
reviewing Petitioner's submissions, the Court will deny
his motion for reconsideration. In its earlier Opinion, the
Court found that it lacked jurisdiction under § 2241 to
consider Petitioner's sentencing enhancement arguments.
More specifically, Petitioner argued that the District Court
of Maine unlawfully enhanced his sentence by adding a firearm
violation that was not in his indictment. (See ECF
No. 1-1, at 3-5). Petitioner relied 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. Further, the
Supreme Court concluded that trial courts must submit such
facts to a jury, and juries must find such facts beyond a
reasonable doubt. Id.
Court rejected Petitioner's arguments because he did not
allege facts sufficient to bring him within the
Dorsainvil exception. In re Dorsainvil, 119
F.3d 245, 251-52 (3d Cir. 1997). Petitioner did not allege
that he is actually innocent of the underlying crime due to a
retroactive change in substantive law that negated the
criminality of his conduct. Rather, Petitioner's claim
was that the district court improperly gave him a sentencing
enhancement. Such an argument did not fall within the
Dorsainvil exception as it only alleged that
Petitioner was 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) (finding that
petitioner did not meet the savings clause, “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.”),
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 In re Dorsainvil does not
apply.”); Crawford v. United States, No.
12-1545, 2012 WL 5199167, at *5 (D.N.J. Oct. 19, 2012)
(“The safety valve under § 2255 does not apply
when an inmate challenges the enhancement of his sentence as
Petitioner does here.”).
this Court rejected Petitioner's argument based on the
Supreme Court's decision in Alleyne, finding
that it did not fall within the Dorsainvil
exception. As the Third Circuit held, “§ 2255 is
not inadequate or ineffective for a prisoner to raise”
Alleyne claims, and in turn, this Court could not
have jurisdiction under § 2241 to adjudicate
Petitioner's Alleyne claim. Sacksith v.
Warden Canaan USP, 552 Fed.Appx. 108, 109 (3d Cir.
2014); see also Olivier-Diaz v. Warden Fort Dix FCI,
562 Fed.Appx. 65, 66 (3d Cir. 2014).
concluding that this Court lacked jurisdiction, the Court
dismissed the Petition and held that it was not in the
interests of justice to transfer the Petition to the First
Circuit as it did not appear that Petitioner could satisfy
the requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(2). See
United States v. Winkelman, 746 F.3d 134, 136 (3d Cir.
2014) (finding that Alleyne does not apply
retroactively to cases on collateral review).
then to the instant motion, Petitioner's argument in
seeking reconsideration is fundamentally flawed. Petitioner
contends that the Fourth Circuit's recent
decision in United States v. Wheeler,
“refut[es] this Court's assertion that it has no
jurisdiction to hear this case.” 886 F.3d 415, 429 (4th
Cir. 2018); (ECF No. 8, at 1). In Wheeler, the
Fourth Circuit set forth a new savings clause test to
determine when § 2255 is “inadequate or
ineffective” to address sentencing enhancement claims.
Wheeler, 886 F.3d at 429. In essence, the Fourth
Circuit expanded its Dorsainvil-type savings clause
jurisprudence to allow § 2241 challenges to ...