United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
Glen E. Conrad Senior United States District Judge
Tate, a federal inmate proceeding pro se, has filed a
petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2241, asking for release from detention because
limited law library access in prison interfered with his
ability to collaterally attack his federal conviction and
sentence. After review of the record, the court will
summarily dismiss the petition.
November 2008, Tate was indicted in the United States
District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee in
Chattanooga for distribution of 50 grams or more of cocaine
base ("crack"). Tate v. United States, No.
1:08-CR-118-HSM-WBC, 2015 WL 5089139, at *1 (E.D. Tenn. Aug.
27, 2015). After Tate developed conflicts with three,
successive court-appointed attorneys, he waived his right to
counsel and elected to represent himself with standby
counsel. Id. at *2. A superseding indictment
returned in June 2009 recharged Tate with the distribution
offense and added three additional charges arising from
allegations that Tate had attempted to kill a confidential
informant by shooting her in the face to prevent her from
communicating with law enforcement or testifying against him.
Id. In November 2009, Tate was convicted by a jury
on all charges. Id. at *6. He is serving a sentence
of life plus ten years in prison. Id. at *7. His
direct appeal was unsuccessful. Id. at *8.
February 2013, Tate filed his first motion under 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255, which the trial court dismissed as without
merit. Id. at *20. Tate appealed, seeking a
certificate of appealability on the merits of his
constitutional claims in the § 2255. Pet. 2, ECF No. 1.
On March 28, 2016, he filed a second § 2255 motion,
raising the same constitutional issues as presented in his
first § 2255 motion. In addition, Tate "complained
about prison officials not furnishing adequate law libraries
or adequate assistance from persons trained in the law in
violation of Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343
(1996)." Id. On April 4, 2016, the district
court transferred Tate's second § 2255 motion to the
United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit as a
second or successive motion under 28 U.S.C. §§
2244(b) and 2255(h). On April 8, 2016, the Sixth Circuit
denied a certificate of appealability regarding the district
court's denial of his initial § 2255 motion, No.
15-6066, and, later denied Tate certification to file the
second § 2255 motion.
March 30, 2016, while Tate's appeals regarding his §
2255 motions were pending in the Sixth Circuit, prison
officials at a federal prison in Louisiana placed him in the
Special Housing Unit ("SHU"), where he remained
until June 15, 2016. While in the SHU, Tate could access a
law library computer, at most, only once per week for about
an hour and had no access to other legal materials or persons
with legal training. On April 18, 2016, under certain Sixth
Circuit rules, Tate challenged the April 8, 2016 order
denying him a certificate of appealability in No. 15-6066. On
June 8, 2016, the Court denied that motion, finding that the
April 8, 2016, order was not reviewable under the cited
15, 2016, officials transferred Tate, and after a period in
transit with no access to legal materials, he arrived at the
United States Penitentiary in Lee County, Virginia ("USP
Lee"), on June 29, 2016. At USP Lee, Tate had access to
law library computers and typewriters, but no help from
persons trained in the law.
14, 2016, Tate filed a motion to reinstate his § 2255
appeal, No. 15-6066, in the Sixth Circuit, complaining about
his lack of access to legal materials in the federal prisons
in Louisiana and Virginia. The Court informed him that No.
15-6066 was closed by final order and would not be
reinstated. Tate missed the deadline to file a petition for a
writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court
regarding No. 15-6066.
2017, Tate filed another § 2255 motion, assigned No.
17-5833 in the Sixth Circuit, raising the lack of access
claims included in the present case. In January 2018, the
Sixth Circuit entered an order in No. 17-5833, denying Tate
leave to file a second or successive § 2255 motion.
The Court stated, Tate's First Amendment claim is not the
proper subject of a § 2255 motion. Although a §
2255 motion is a post-conviction remedy, it cannot be used to
pursue every post-conviction claim and is instead limited to
claims concerning the validity of a conviction or sentence.
Tate's First Amendment claim concerns his access to legal
materials in relation to his § 2255 motion and,
therefore, has no bearing on the validity of his conviction
Pet. at 4, ECF No. 1.
filed his § 2241 petition in this court in April 2019,
arguing that inadequate access to legal materials in prison
prevented him from perfecting his petition for a writ of
certiorari in the Supreme Court regarding his § 2255
appeal in July 2016, in violation of his First and Fifth
Amendment rights. As relief, Tate asserts that under §
2255(e) and § 2241, this court should order his release
prisoner must, generally, use a motion under § 2255 to
collaterally attack the legality of his detention under a
federal conviction and sentence. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a);
Davis v. United States. 417 U.S. 333, 343 (1974). A
district court has no jurisdiction to entertain a petition
for a writ of habeas corpus under § 2241 challenging the
validity of an inmate's detention under a federal court
judgment unless a § 2255 motion is "inadequate or
ineffective to test the legality of [that inmate's]
detention." 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e) ("the savings