Wright v. Spaulding, No. 17-4257 (6th Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
As a felon in possession of a firearm, Wright had three prior convictions for “serious drug offenses,” and qualified as an armed career criminal. A Maryland district judge accepted his plea and gave him the 15-year minimum sentence. Wright did not dispute his Armed Career Criminal Act status, nor did he appeal. Wright unsuccessfully challenged his sentence after the Supreme Court decided, in Johnson, that ACCA's “residual clause” was unconstitutionally vague. Wright’s argument had nothing to do with Johnson or the residual clause, which did not concern drug offenses. After the Supreme Court’s 2016 Mathis decision, Wright was subject to “second or successive” habeas motions limitation, 28 U.S.C. 2255(h). Wright's second habeas corpus petition, filed in the district court where he is imprisoned, was dismissed. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. In the Sixth Circuit, a federal prisoner who has already filed a section 2255 motion and cannot file another one, cannot use section 2241 to seek relief just because a new Supreme Court case hints his conviction or sentence may be defective. The prisoner must also show that binding adverse precedent (or some greater obstacle) left him with “no reasonable opportunity” to make his argument either when he was convicted and appealed or when he sought postconviction relief. Wright had several opportunities to raise his “Mathis claim,” free of any procedural impediments or hostile precedents. He cannot now use the saving clause to get "another bite at the apple."