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Ruiz v. L. Williams

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

January 16, 2018

JESUS RUIZ, Petitioner,
v.
L. WILLIAMS, Respondent.

          OPINION & ORDER

          JAMES D. PETERSON, District Judge.

         In 1998, pro se petitioner and federal prisoner Jesus Ruiz was convicted of various crimes related to a scheme to kidnap individuals and then hold them for ransom to pay off drug debts the victims allegedly owed. In this petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241, Ruiz is raising the following claims: (1) the sentencing court erred in giving him life sentences under 18 U.S.C. §§ 1201 and 1203 because the jury did not determine that his conduct was the “but for” cause of the death of one of the victims; (2) his racketeering conviction is invalid because the jury was not properly instructed on the elements;[1] and (3) his convictions for using a firearm are invalid because the jury was not required to find that he knew that his codefendants intended to use firearms. The petition is fully briefed and ready for the court's review. I will deny the petition because each of Ruiz's claims fails on either procedural or substantive grounds.

         Four other motions, all filed by Ruiz, are also before the court: (1) a motion for leave to file supplemental authority, Dkt. 13; (2) a motion for leave to supplement the petition, Dkt. 14; (3) a motion to compel the release of evidence, Dkt. 16; and (4) a motion for leave to modify the motion to compel, Dkt. 22. The first two motions are more accurately called supplemental briefs. Ruiz doesn't raise new claims, just new and more fully developed arguments. I will allow the briefs, but they make no difference to the outcome of the petition. The second two motions have nothing to do with the issues raised in Ruiz's § 2241 petition. Rather, they are requests to obtain new evidence to prove Ruiz's innocence. Because Ruiz's requests are outside the scope of his petition and he cites no authority for the requests, I will deny them.

         BACKGROUND

         In 1996, Ruiz and three others were charged in the Northern District of Illinois with various crimes related to four kidnappings. The government alleged that all four victims were kidnapped because the defendants believed them to owe, or to be related to someone who owed, debts connected with cocaine trafficking. One of the victims, Jamie Estrada, died after receiving a gunshot wound inflicted by one of Ruiz's codefendants.

         Ruiz's 11-count indictment included the following charges:

1) one count of operating a criminal enterprise that engaged in a conspiracy to kidnap and hold victims for ransom, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d);
2) four counts of hostage taking, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1203(a);
3) one count of conspiring to commit kidnapping, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1201(c);
4) one count of kidnapping, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1201(a);
5) one count of assault of a law enforcement officer, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 111;
6) one count of using a firearm during the conspiracy to take a hostage, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1);
7) one count of using a firearm during a kidnapping, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1); and
8) one count of using a firearm during the assault of a law enforcement official, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1).

         The charges relevant to this petition are hostage taking under § 1203(a), kidnapping under § 1201(a), and using a firearm under § 924(c). The jury convicted Ruiz on all counts.

         The trial court sentenced Ruiz to life for the kidnapping, hostage taking, and racketeering convictions; 20 years for using a firearm during the kidnapping; 20 years for using a firearm during the assault; and five years for using a firearm during the ...


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