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Zavala v. United States

United States District Court, D. Idaho

July 15, 2019

JUAN ANTONIO ZAVALA, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          B. Lynn Winmill, U.S. District Court Judge

         INTRODUCTION

         Before the Court is a Juan Antonio Zavala's Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus Under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 (Dkt. 1), as well as his request for a default judgment (Dkt. 4). The Clerk of the Court conditionally filed the § 2241 petition pending the Court's initial review. (Dkt. 2). The Court is required to screen habeas corpus petitions to determine whether they are subject to summary dismissal. See Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases.[1]

         BACKGROUND

         In May 2004, a jury convicted Zavala of two crimes: (1) conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine; and (2) distribution of 50 grams or more of methamphetamine. The Court sentenced Zavala to 360 months' imprisonment, and the Ninth Circuit affirmed. See United States v. Zavala, 520 F.3d 984 (9th Cir. 2008) (en banc).

         In May 2009, Zavala filed a motion to vacate his sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Zavala claimed his counsel was ineffective by failing to advise him of the possible benefits of pleading guilty without a plea agreement and failing to investigate mitigating evidence. After appointing counsel for Zavala and conducting an evidentiary hearing, the Court denied the motion. See Zavala v. United States, No. 1:09-cv-212-BLW (D. Idaho July 31, 2012).

         In October 2018, over six years after the Court denied his § 2255 motion, Zavala filed the pending “Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus Under 28 U.S.C. § 2241.” See Dkt. 1. Despite its label, this petition is actually a second or successive petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, which will be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.

         DISCUSSION

         A. Legal Standards Governing § 2241 and § 2255 Motions

         In general, a motion filed under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 provides the exclusive mechanism by which a federal prisoner may attack the underlying legality of his detention. Harrison v. Ollison, 519 F.3d 952, 955 (9th Cir. 2008) (citing Lorentsen v. Hood, 223 F.3d 950, 953 (9th Cir. 2000)). A § 2255 motion must be filed in the district court in which the sentencing was held. Id. at 956 (citation omitted). Once a prisoner has unsuccessfully challenged the legality of his detention in a § 2255 proceeding, he cannot file a second or successive § 2255 motion unless he first obtains the authorization of the court of appeals. See 28 U.S.C. § 2255(h). The court of appeals may grant such authorization only if it determines that the motion makes a prima facie showing that it involves either:

(1) newly discovered evidence that, if proven and viewed in light of the evidence as a whole would be sufficient to establish by clear and convincing evidence that no reasonable factfinder would have found the movant guilty of the offense; or
(2) a new rule of constitutional law, made retroactive to cases on collateral review by the Supreme Court, that was previously unavailable.

28 U.S.C. § 2255(h) (incorporating 28 U.S.C. § 2244).

         Conversely, a petition for writ of habeas corpus filed under 28 U .S.C. § 2241 is limited to challenging the manner, location, or condition under which a sentence is executed and is to be filed in the custodial court. Harrison, 519 F.3d at 956. However, a so-called “escape hatch” or “savings clause” contained within § 2255 provides that a prisoner may proceed under § 2241 to challenge the legality of his detention if the remedy under § 2255 is “inadequate or ineffective” for doing so. See § 2255(e); Stephens v. Herrera, 464 ...


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