United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
OPINION & ORDER
D. PETERSON District Judge.
petitioner Joseph Meling, a prisoner incarcerated at the
Federal Correctional Institution in Oxford, Wisconsin, seeks
a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241,
challenging his sentence from the United States District
Court for the Western District of Washington. Meling contends
that the Supreme Court's decision in Jones v. United
States, 526 U.S. 227 (1999) renders his sentence
unlawful because a jury did not find the facts that the
sentencing judge used to enhance his sentence.
petition is before the court for preliminary review under
Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases, which also
applies to Section 2241 petitions. See Rule 1(b),
Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases; 28 U.S.C. § 2243.
Under Rule 4, a district court will dismiss the petition only
if it plainly appears that the petitioner is not entitled to
relief. For the reasons discussed below, I will dismiss
Meling's petition and close the case.
the following background from Meling's petition, his
exhibits, and court records. Dkt. 1; Dkt. 2-1 through Dkt.
2-13; United States v. Meling, Case No. 92-cr-395
(W.D. Wash.), aff'd, 47 F.3d 1546 (9th Cir.
Meling was an insurance salesman when he was accused for
attempting to kill his wife. Here is what the government
presented. Meling got a $700, 000 life-insurance policy on
his wife. The day after the policy was effective, he laced a
Sudafed pill with cyanide and fed it to her. She survived,
despite her serious injuries. Meling then worried that he
might get caught, so he schemed to divert police
investigation. He laced five more packages of Sudafed with
cyanide and placed them on the shelves at local drug stores.
Two people took the adulterated Sudafed pills and died.
five-week trial, a jury found Meling guilty on 11 counts: 1
count of product tampering that resulted in great bodily
injury; 2 counts of product tampering that resulted in death;
3 counts of product tampering; 2 counts of perjury; and 3
counts of mail fraud. The district court sentenced Meling on
June 8, 1993. Meling is now serving a term of life in prison.
challenges his sentence for the two counts of product
tampering resulting in death. Under the sentencing
guidelines, the base offense level for those two convictions
depended on whether Meling had caused the victims' deaths
“intentionally or knowingly.” USSG § 2N1.1.
The sentencing judge concluded that Meling had intentionally
or knowingly caused the deaths of his victims, so following
the guidelines she cross-referenced § 2A1.1 (the
guideline for first-degree murder) instead of § 2A1.2
(the guideline for second-degree murder). The resulting base
offense level yielded a guideline range of life. Because the
guidelines were mandatory at the time (in 1993), the judge
sentenced Meling to life in prison without the possibility of
parole. Meling appealed to the Ninth
Circuit, which affirmed his conviction and sentence. The
Supreme Court denied Meling's petition for certiorari.
Meling's prior habeas petitions
has filed numerous habeas petitions. In 1999, Meling filed a
petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, but the district court
denied the petition as untimely. Meling v. United
States, Case No. 99-cv-00279 (W.D. Wash. Aug. 30, 1999).
Meling then filed another § 2255 petition in 2002,
labeled “NOT a Second or Successive § 2255,
” but the district court disagreed with the label and
transferred the case to the Ninth Circuit for authorization
to file a successive petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2255(h),
which was denied. Meling v. United States, Case No.
02-73195 (9th Cir. July 30, 2003). In 2011, Meling filed a
Rule 60(b) motion, but the court construed it as another
successive § 2255 petition and transferred to the Ninth
Circuit again for authorization. Meling v. United
States, Case No. 11-cv-169 (W.D. Wash. Feb. 4, 2011).
Meling voluntarily dismissed that case. Meling v. United
States, Case No. 11-70419 (9th Cir. April 14, 2011). In
2014, Meling filed a motion for authorization from the Ninth
Circuit to file a successive § 2255 petition based on
the Supreme Court's decisions in Alleyne v. United
States, 133 S.Ct. 2151 (2013) and Burrage v. United
States, 134 S.Ct. 881 (2014). But that motion, too, was
denied. Meling v. United States, Case No. 14-71568
(9th Cir. Feb. 27, 2015).
months later, in September 2015, Meling filed a § 2241
petition with this court, relying on Alleyne again.
In particular, he raised the same argument he raises now:
that the jury, not the sentencing judge, should have found
that he “intentionally or knowingly” killed his
two victims. I denied Meling's petition at screening.
Meling v. Ward, Case No. 15-cv-604-jd, 2016 WL
1611392, at *2 (W.D. Wis. Apr. 21, 2016). I explained that
Meling could not challenge his sentence under § 2241
because Alleyne was not a statutory-interpretation
case and it did not apply retroactively. Id. Meling
appealed, and the Seventh Circuit affirmed. Meling v.
Ward, Case No. 16-2008 (7th Cir. Oct. 18, 2016).
new § 2241 petition makes essentially the same argument
as his last petition, although it is based this time on the
Supreme Court's decision in Jones v. United
States. In Jones, the Supreme Court held that
the “serious bodily injury” requirement under the
carjacking statute, 18 U.S.C. § 2119, is an element of
the offense to be determined by the jury, not just a
sentencing consideration. 526 U.S. at 232. Meling contends
that under Jones, the jury, not the sentencing
judge, was to decide whether Meling “intentionally or
knowingly” caused the deaths of the two victims-which
is the same argument he raised in his ...