7th Circuit affirms man not entitled to habeas relief

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Although a federal judge erroneously held that a savings clause did not apply to a habeas petition filed by an inmate in Terre Haute, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal based on the merits of the petition.  

Augustus Light, who was convicted in Minnesota of one count of firearm possession by a felon in 2003, challenged his sentence enhancement based on the Armed Career Criminal Act. His presentence report outlined several convictions that qualified under the Act to justify enhancing his sentence from a range of 120 to 150 months to 235 to 293 months. When he was sentenced to 235 months, the judge did not specify which three convictions supported finding Light was an armed career criminal.

He filed a direct appeal and challenged the enhancement in a Section 2255 petition in Minnesota. His appeals failed in that state, so he filed a pro se habeas petition under Section 2241 in federal court in Indiana, where he is incarcerated. He relied on the “savings clause” of Section 2255(e) and argued that in light of Begay v. United States, 553 U.S. 137, 139, 143 (2008), he was entitled to a sentence reduction because one of his predicate ACCA convictions did not qualify as a “violent felony.”

Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson dismissed the petition on the grounds that relief under Section 2255 had been available to Light and had not been “inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of his detention,” so he did not qualify for the savings clause.

The 7th Circuit, using a test outlined in In Re Davenport, 147 F.3d 605, 609 (7th Circ. 1998), found that Light did in fact qualify for the savings clause. That case allows for a Section 2241 challenge based on a new statutory interpretation by the U.S. Supreme Court as long as three conditions are satisfied.

The District Court never adjudicated Light’s Section 2241 claim on the merits, but the panel’s consideration of the merits in Augustus Light v. John F. Caraway, Warden, 13-1554, led it to conclude that Light is not eligible for relief.

“Through intervening changes in the law, one of his prior predicate offenses for the ACCA enhancement no longer qualifies,” Judge John Tinder wrote, referring to the conviction of vehicular operation. “… but one that was not previously a qualifying predicate offense has become eligible. The net change is zero. Light is still eligible for the ACCA enhancement.”

Light was convicted of felony fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle, which under Sykes v. United States, 131 S. Ct. 2267, 2270 (2011), is now considered a violent felony as the term is used by the ACCA.


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  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.