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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. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  2. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

  3. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

  4. Mazel Tov to the newlyweds. And to those bakers, photographers, printers, clerks, judges and others who will lose careers and social standing for not saluting the New World (Dis)Order, we can all direct our Two Minutes of Hate as Big Brother asks of us. Progress! Onward!

  5. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

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