United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
JACKSON L. KISER, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Ledezma-Rodriguez, a federal inmate proceeding pro se, filed
a petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C.
§2241. Relying on 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e), United
States v. Wheeler, 886 F.3d 415 (4th Cir. 2018), and
United States v. Simmons, 649 F.3d 237 (4th Cir.
2011),  Ledezma-Rodriguez seeks to invalidate the
sentence imposed on him by the United States District Court
for the Southern District of Iowa in 2002, No. 3:00cr00071.
Upon review of the record, I conclude that the
respondent's motion to dismiss must be granted because I
lack jurisdiction to consider Ledezma-Rodriguez's §
2002, after a jury trial in the Southern District of Iowa,
the court convicted Ledezma-Rodriguez of possession with
intent to distribute more than 500 grams of mixture
containing methamphetamine and amphetamine purporting to be
methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§
841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(A); possession of cocaine with intent to
distribute, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1)
and (b)(1)(B); conspiracy to distribute cocaine and more than
500 grams of mixture containing methamphetamine and
amphetamine purporting to be methamphetamine, in violation of
21 U.S.C. §§ 846 and 841(b)(1)(B); and carrying a
firearm in relation to a drug trafficking crime, in violation
of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). Prior to trial, the United States
filed a notice of prior convictions pursuant to 21 U.S.C.
§ 851, setting forth Ledezma-Rodriguez's two prior
Oregon felony drug convictions, which increased the mandatory
minimum sentence to life imprisonment on two of the federal
drug counts. The court sentenced Ledezma-Rodriguez to life
imprisonment on the conspiracy and methamphetamine
distribution convictions, a concurrent thirty-year sentence
on the cocaine distribution conviction, and a consecutive
five-year sentence on the § 924(c) conviction.
Ledezma-Rodriguez appealed and the Court of Appeals for the
Eighth Circuit denied the appeal.
September 2003, Ledezma-Rodriguez filed a motion to vacate,
set aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to § 2255,
which the Southern District of Iowa denied and the Eighth
Circuit affirmed. In 2006, Ledezma-Rodriguez filed a petition
for a successive habeas corpus motion under 28 U.S.C. §
2244, and the Eighth Circuit denied his motion. In 2013,
Ledezma-Rodriguez filed a second § 2255 motion in the
district court and the court dismissed it without prejudice
as successive. In 2014, Ledezma-Rodriguez filed another
petition for a successive habeas corpus motion under §
2244, which the court again denied. In 2016,
Ledezma-Rodriguez filed a third petition for a successive
habeas corpus motion under § 2244, and the court again
denied his petition.
instant § 2241 petition, Ledezma-Rodriguez argues that
his sentence is unlawful because his prior Oregon drug
convictions are not qualifying offenses for the sentencing
enhancement of 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A), in light of
Simmons, 649 F.3d 237. Respondent filed a motion to
dismiss and Ledezma-Rodriguez has responded, making the
matter ripe for disposition.
prisoner generally must file a motion under § 2255 to
collaterally attack the legality of his detention under a
federal conviction or sentence. 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 challenging a federal court
judgment unless a motion pursuant to § 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). "[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." In re Vial 115 F.3d 1192, 1194 n.5
(4th Cir. 1997).
United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has
concluded that § 2255 is inadequate and ineffective to
test the legality of a sentence when:
(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. If any one of the
requirements is not met, the court is deprived of
jurisdiction and may not "entertain [the petition] to
begin with." Id. at 425. Ledezma-Rodriguez
bears the burden of proving subject matter jurisdiction.
Adams v. Bain, 697 F.2d 1213, 1219 (4th Cir. 1982).
evaluating the substantive law in a § 2255(e) savings
clause analysis, the court must "look to the substantive
law of the circuit where a defendant was convicted."
Hahn v. Moseley, 931 F.3d 295, 300-01 (4th Cir.
2019). The Iowa district court where Ledezma-Rodriguez was
convicted is within the Eighth Circuit. 28 U.S.C. § 41.
Accordingly, while the court must apply the procedural
standard in Wheeler, it must do so using Eighth
Circuit substantive law. Id.
relies exclusively on Simmons as substantive law to
support his argument. However, Simmons is a Fourth
Circuit decision that is not binding upon courts within other
circuits. See Williams v. Ziegler, No.
5:12-0398, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 183854, at *14, 2014 WL
201713, at *4 (S.D. W.Va. Dec. 30, 2013) (citing Goodwin
v. United States, No. I:12cv430; l:08crl04, 2013 U.S.
Dist. LEXIS 80093, at *9, 2013 WL 2468365, at * 3 (E.D. Term.
June 7, 2013)). Ledezma-Rodriguez has failed to identify any
retroactive Eighth Circuit case that would substantively
change the law applicable to his conviction. ...