Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Griffin: No savings clause for defendant whose total length of detention was valid

In Griffin v. Warden, FCC Coleman-Low, No. 15-11335 (April 1, 2016), the Court held that despite a Begay error in counting his previous conviction for the Florida crime of carrying a concealed firearm as a qualifying offense for purposes of the armed career criminal act (ACCA), the defendant was not entitled to habeas relief under the “savings clause” of 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e), that applied to inmates who, having already challenged their judgment under § 2255, now sought relief under § 2241. The Court noted that Bryant v. Warden, FCC Coleman-Medium requires a petitioner to establish that his current detention exceeds the statutory maximum authorized by Congress. The Court interpreted Bryant to require that a petitioner show not just that one of his concurrent sentences was illegal, but that his overall detention is illegal – which Brown failed to do. “Put simply, there is no fundamental defect when a prisoner is not serving more time, in total, than authorized by law.” Here, while Brown’s 188-month ACCA sentence was illegal, his 188-month detention was authorized by the statutory maxima for his drug crimes – life. Further, a Guidelines error does not trigger the savings clause.