Jennings v. Quintana, 041714 FED3, 13-1531

Docket Nº:13-1531
Opinion Judge:PER CURIAM.
Party Name:GABRIEL J. JENNINGS, Appellant v. WARDEN FRANCISCO J. QUINTANA; U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL
Judge Panel:Before: RENDELL, GREENAWAY, JR. and ALDISERT, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:April 17, 2014
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
 
FREE EXCERPT

GABRIEL J. JENNINGS, Appellant

v.

WARDEN FRANCISCO J. QUINTANA; U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL

No. 13-1531

United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit

April 17, 2014

NOT PRECEDENTIAL

Submitted Pursuant to Third Circuit LAR 34.1(a) April 14, 2014.

On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania (D.C. Civil No. 1-08-cv-00322) District Judge: Honorable Sean J. McLaughlin.

Before: RENDELL, GREENAWAY, JR. and ALDISERT, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

PER CURIAM.

Gabriel Jennings, proceeding pro se, appeals from an order of the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania denying his petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. For the following reasons, we will affirm.

In 1990, Gabriel Jennings and 13 co-defendants were charged in a multi-count indictment with a host of crimes related to their participation in an organization that distributed crack cocaine and other drugs in Philadelphia. One of those counts charged that, on or around December 29, 1988, Jennings and several co-defendants used fire and explosives with the intent to damage or destroy "a building used in an activity affecting interstate commerce, that is 5801 Brush Road, which was used in the conspiracy to distribute cocaine base charged in Count One of the Indictment." 18 U.S.C. § 844(i). That address was the home of Nathaniel Gore, who was charged with, but acquitted of, making a house available for drug distribution. See 21 U.S.C. 856(a)(2).

A jury in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania found Jennings guilty of arson, conspiracy, operating a continuing criminal enterprise, a RICO violation, as well as firearms and drug-related offenses. The trial court subsequently sentenced Jennings to 432 months of imprisonment – 60 months for the firearm counts and 372 months for the remaining counts. We affirmed the convictions and sentence on direct appeal. Jennings's first 28 U.S.C. § 2255 motion was denied in 1993.1

In May 2000, the Supreme Court decided Jones v. United States, 529 U.S. 848 (2000), which interpreted an aspect of the federal arson statute under which Jennings had been convicted. The Supreme Court held that "an owner-occupied residence not used for any commercial purpose does not qualify as property 'used in' commerce or commerce-affecting activity; arson of such a dwelling, therefore, is not subject to federal prosecution under [18 U.S.C. § 844(i)]." Jones, 529 U.S. at 850-51. Relying on Jones, Jennings filed this § 2241 petition, arguing that, at the time of the arson in December 1988, Gore had converted the home back into an "exclusive owner-occupied dwelling" by refusing to allow the drug sales to continue out of his basement.2 Therefore, according to Jennings, because the property was merely Gore's private residence, he was convicted of conduct that is no longer deemed criminal. A Magistrate Judge recommended that the petition be denied. In particular, the Magistrate Judge concluded that Jennings was not actually innocent of arson under § 844(i) as interpreted by the Supreme Court in Jones because "there is evidence from which a reasonable juror could conclude that Gore's home was used as a location to sell illegal drugs and, therefore, was not solely a private residence used only for everyday family living." Over Jennings' objections, the District Court adopted the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation, and denied the §...

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