United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
Anthony Robinson, Pro Se Petitioner.
P. Jones United States District Judge
petitioner, Anthony Robinson, a federal inmate proceeding pro
se, has filed a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, contending that his federal arrest
and conviction are unconstitutional. After review of the
record, I will summarily dismiss the petition.
April 25, 2013, after a lengthy jury trial in the United
States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri,
Robinson was convicted of a RICO conspiracy, two counts of
committing murder in aid of racketeering, attempt to commit
murder in aid of racketeering, and evidence tampering. The
court sentenced Robinson to consecutive terms of life in
prison on each of the first three offenses, and 120 months
and 240 months on the latter two offenses. See
United States v. Robinson, No. 4:11 CR 246 CDP,
2013 WL 1787571 (E.D. Mo. Apr. 24, 2013). Robinson’s
appeal was unsuccessful. United States v. Henley,
766 F.3d 893, 908 (8th Cir. 2014), cert. denied, 135
S. Ct. 2065 (2015). Robinson also filed an equally
unsuccessful motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255.
Robinson v. United States, No. 4:16 CV 533 CDP, 2017
WL 4517825 (E.D. Mo. Oct. 10, 2017), certificate of
appealability denied, No. 17-3631, 2018 WL 2717788 (8th
Cir. Apr. 23, 2018) (unpublished). Robinson is currently
confined at the United States Penitentiary in Lee County,
Virginia, located in this judicial district.
§ 2241 petition, Robinson asserts that the district
court in Missouri lacked federal jurisdiction over his
crimes, because the government failed to prove that his
motorcycle gang, Wheel of Souls, obstructed interstate
commerce. He also contends that the government failed to
present sufficient evidence on several of the counts against
him and that the court’s instructions to the jury were
faulty. On these grounds, Robinson contends that he is
challenging the validity of his detention, not the criminal
judgment as imposed, and that he is entitled to habeas relief
under § 2241.
district court may not entertain a § 2241 petition
challenging the validity of an inmate’s detention under
a federal court judgment unless a motion pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2255 is “inadequate or ineffective to
test the legality of [that inmate’s] detention.”
28 U.S.C. § 2255(e) (“the savings clause”);
Swain v. Pressley, 430 U.S. 372, 381 (1977). The
United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has
that § 2255 is inadequate and ineffective to test the
legality of a conviction when: (1) at the time of conviction,
settled law of this circuit or the Supreme Court established
the legality of the conviction; (2) subsequent to the
prisoner’s direct appeal and first § 2255 motion,
the substantive law changed such that the conduct of which
the prisoner was convicted is deemed not to be criminal; and
(3) the prisoner cannot satisfy the gate keeping provisions
of § 2255 because the new rule is not one of
In re Jones, 226 F.3d 328, 333-34 (4th Cir. 2000).
cannot satisfy this standard, because he fails to identify
any intervening change in substantive law that decriminalized
the acts for which he was convicted. Rather, his arguments in
the § 2241 petition fall squarely in the category of
claims that he could have raised in his § 2255 motion.
The fact that such claims would now be barred as successive
or untimely filed if raised in a second § 2255 motion
does not authorize Robinson to raise them instead in a §
2241 petition through the narrow window of § 2255(e).
In re Vial, 115 F.3d 1192, 1194 n.5 (4th Cir. 1997)
(“[T]he remedy afforded by § 2255 is not rendered
inadequate or ineffective merely because an individual has
been unable to obtain relief under that provision, or because
an individual is procedurally barred from filing a §
2255 motion,”) (citations omitted).
more stringent standard applies to § 2241 challenges to
the legality of an inmate’s sentence as imposed.
See United States v. Wheeler, 886 F.3d 415 (4th Cir.
2018). To bring such claims, the prisoner must show that:
(1) at the time of sentencing, settled law of this circuit or
the Supreme Court established the legality of the sentence;
(2) subsequent to the prisoner’s direct appeal and
first § 2255 motion, the aforementioned settled
substantive law changed and was deemed to apply retroactively
on collateral review; (3) the prisoner is unable to meet the
gatekeeping provisions of § 2255(h)(2) for second or
successive motions; and (4) due to this retroactive change,
the sentence now presents an error sufficiently grave to be
deemed a fundamental defect.
Id. at 429. Robinson fails to show that his sentence
now constitutes “an error sufficiently grave to be
deemed a fundamental defect” in light of particular,
post-§ 2255 changes in substantive law that have been
found to apply retroactively in a collateral proceeding.
stated reasons, I conclude that Robinson’s claims of
trial court error and insufficiency of the evidence do not
fall under the savings clause of § 2255(e) and thus
cannot be addressed under § 2241. Accordingly, ...