United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
Jackson L. Riser Senior United States District Judge.
Jonathan Russell Wright, a federal inmate proceeding pro se,
filed this petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28
U.S.C. § 2241, alleging that his life sentence for
possession of crack cocaine is unlawful. Upon review of the
record, the court concludes that the petition must be
summarily dismissed as without merit.
in the United States District Court for the Eastern District
of Arkansas found Wright guilty of one count of possessing
crack cocaine with intent to distribute in violation of 21
U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). In December 2012, that court
sentenced Wright to life in prison, pursuant to 21 U.S.C.
§ 841(b)(1)(A). Wright's appeal was unsuccessful.
United States v. Wright. 739 F.3d 1160 (8th Cir.
2014). Thereafter, Wright filed a motion to vacate, set aside
or correct the sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, alleging
that "his trial lawyer and his appellate lawyer were
ineffective in failing to raise certain issues regarding the
issuance of the search warrant pursuant to which the cocaine
that resulted in his conviction was discovered."
United States v. Wright, No. 4:11CR00168 JLH, 2014
WL 4355180, at *1 (E.D. Ark. Sept. 3, 2014). The trial court
reviewed Wright's claims, found them to be without merit,
and denied relief. Id., at * 5.
who is confined at a federal prison located in this district,
filed his § 2241 petition in June 2019. He contends that
this court may grant him relief under § 2241 because of
the Supreme Court's decision on June 17, 2013, in
Alleyne v. United States, 570 U.S. 99 (2013).
Alleyne held that any fact which increases the
mandatory minimum sentence for a crime is an element of that
crime that "must be submitted to the jury and found
beyond a reasonable doubt." Id. at 103. Because
Wright was sentenced before the Alleyne decision,
the jury was not asked to make a finding as to the amount of
crack cocaine for which Wright was held accountable for
sentencing. He argues that this court can now correct the
defect by granting him relief under §2241.
prisoner must generally use a motion pursuant to § 2255
to collaterally attack the legality of his detention under a
federal judgment. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a); Davis v.
United States. 417 U.S. 333, 343 (1974). A district
court cannot entertain a petition for a writ of habeas corpus
under § 2241 petition challenging the lawfulness of a
federal inmate's detention 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");
United States v. Wheeler, 886 F.3d 415, 423 (4th
Cir. 2018), cert denied, 139 S.Ct. 1316(2019).
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." In re Vial. 115 F.3d 1192, 1194 n.5
(4th Cir. 1997) (citations omitted). Rather, the United
States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has concluded
that § 2255 is inadequate and ineffective to test the
legality of a federal criminal sentence when these specific
factors are present:
(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.
Wheeler, 886 F.3d at 429.
§ 2241 claim relies on Alleyne. This Supreme
Court decision issued while Wright's direct appeal was
pending and well before he filed his first §
2255 motion. Thus, Wright cannot meet the second requirement
under Wheeler. As such, he has not demonstrated that
§ 2255 is inadequate and ineffective to test the
legality of his sentence, and this court has no jurisdiction
to grant the requested sentencing relief under § 2241.
Therefore, I will summarily dismiss his petition. An
appropriate order will issue herewith.
Clerk is directed to send copies of this memorandum opinion
and accompanying order to petitioner and to counsel of record
for the respondent.
 Contrary to the government's
contention, an inmate may challenge the validity of a
criminal sentence that he is not yet serving, but will be
required to serve in the future, pursuant to a consecutive
sentence or a detainer from another jurisdiction. See