Guenther v. Marske, No. 17-3409 (7th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
In 2005, Guenther was convicted of possessing a firearm as a felon, 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(1). The Armed Career Criminal Act increases the penalty for that offense to a 15-year minimum and a maximum of life in prison if the defendant has three prior convictions for a “violent felony.” Guenther’s PSR identified two convictions for first-degree burglary (1990 and 1992), second-degree burglary (1986), and kidnapping (1990), all under Minnesota law. The judge applied ACCA and sentenced him to 327 months.
His Eighth Circuit direct appeal failed as did his petition for collateral review under 28 U.S.C. 2255. In 2017, incarcerated in Wisconsin, Guenther sought relief under 28 U.S.C. 2241, arguing that his Minnesota burglary convictions are not “violent felonies”
The Seventh Circuit granted habeas relief. A section 2255 motion in the sentencing court is normally the exclusive method to collaterally attack a federal sentence, but the “saving clause,” 2255(e) provides a limited exception, allowing a prisoner to seek section 2241 relief in the district of confinement if “the remedy by motion is inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of his detention.” The Seventh Circuit applies the exception when the prisoner relies on an intervening statutory decision announcing a new, retroactive rule that could not have been invoked in his first section 2255 motion and the error is serious enough to amount to a miscarriage of justice. Guenther’s Minnesota burglary convictions are not ACCA predicates under Seventh Circuit law.