`

Man can't collaterally attack sentence again

December 4, 2008

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has again denied a man's attempt to have his drug conviction overturned or sentence reduced because he had used the one 28 U.S.C. Section 2255 motion he was allowed and he can't challenge his sentence again under the same section.

Kevin Unthank appealed his 262-month sentence for drug convictions in Kevin Unthank v. Brian Jett, Warden, Federal Correctional Institute at Terre Haute, Indiana, No. 08-1417, something he had been doing for more than a decade, the federal appellate court noted.

Unthank filed his latest post-conviction appeal in 2007 after he was transferred to the prison in Terre Haute. U.S. District Judge Larry J. McKinney dismissed that petition.

Unthank appealed because he believed since one of his state convictions was vacated, his federal sentence should be reduced. But his collateral attack in his 1998 motion under 28 U.S.C. Section 2255 blocks access to the kind of review of his case authorized by Johnson v. United States, 544 U.S. 295 (2005), wrote Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook. Section 2255 allows for only one collateral attack unless a prisoner meets the conditions under subsection (h), which Unthank doesn't qualify for, wrote the chief judge.

Unthank also can't use Section 2241 to challenge his sentence, which he thinks can be used when a motion under Section 2255 is inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of his detention. The case, Taylor v. Gilkey, 314 F.3d 832 (7th Cir. 2002), rejected this line of argument, wrote Chief Judge Easterbrook.

"If Unthank wanted to use (Section) 2255 to argue for a lower sentence after asking a state court to vacate one or more of his prior convictions, he had only to refrain from filing a collateral attack until the state court had acted," he wrote. "He may have used unwisely the one (Section) 2255 motion allowed as of right, but he did use it in 1998 and has not met the statutory requirements for an additional round of collateral review."

ADVERTISEMENT

Recent Articles by Jennifer Nelson