United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
A. VARLAN CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
pro se federal inmate has filed a motion to vacate, set
aside, or correct a sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255
[Doc. 126]. Petitioner has also filed the following
motions which are before the Court: (1) motion for extension
of time to file legal memorandum, for certain discovery, and
for relief under Rule 36 [Doc. 127]; (2) motion to amend his
§ 2255 motion [Doc. 133]; (3) a second motion for
extension of time to file legal memorandum, for certain
discovery, and for relief under Rule 36 [Doc. 134]; and (4)
motion for in forma pauperis status [Doc. 135]. The
Court will address these motions in turn.
Motions for Extension of Time and for Discovery
filed a motion for extension of time to file a legal
memorandum and for discovery of certain sealed documents on
January 23, 2017 [Doc. 127]. He filed an identical motion
requesting the same relief on May 8, 2017 [Doc. 134]. The
Court will first address the discovery request and will then
turn to the request for an extension of time.
Petitioner's request for discovery, “[a] judge may,
for good cause, authorize a party to conduct discovery under
the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure or Civil Procedure,
or in accordance with the practices and principles of
law.” Rule 6(a) of the Rules Governing Section 2255
Proceedings for the United States District Courts. The
“party requesting discovery must provide reasons for
the request.” Rule 6(b) of the Rules Governing Section
2255 Proceedings for the United States District Courts.
However, a petitioner is not entitled to discovery as a
matter of ordinary course. Bracy v. Gramley, 520
U.S. 899, 904 (1997).
court must provide discovery for a § 2255 motion only
upon a showing of good cause. Good cause exists “where
specific allegations before the court show reason to believe
that the petitioner may, if the facts are fully developed, be
able to demonstrate that he is . . . entitled to
relief.” Id. at 908-09 (quoting Harris v.
Nelson, 394 U.S. 286, 300 (1969)).
case, Petitioner seeks to have the Court: (1) conduct a
review, “in camera or otherwise, ” of the sealed
documents; (2) provide a summary of those documents to
Petitioner and Respondent's counsel; and (3) rule
provisionally that the documents be unsealed for
Petitioner's use solely in connection with these §
2255 proceedings [Doc. 127 pp. 2-3]. Petitioner maintains
that he has done his best to present cognizable issues for
collateral review in his § 2255 motion, but that the
sealed documents might contain crucial information which
would allow him to present full argument in connection with
those issues in his supporting memorandum brief [Id.
blanket allegations that discovery might help him collect
information germane to the claims offered in his § 2255
motion lacks factual elaboration. Petitioner has not
indicated the ways in which the sought materials would help
him develop the facts fully and he has not identified the
issues in his § 2255 motion that he wishes to expand
with further factual elaboration. He also has not shown how
such facts may be able to demonstrate that he is entitled to
any inkling as to what Petitioner seeks to discover in these
materials, the Court considers his request to be more in the
nature of a fishing expedition. This is not a proper purpose
for the discovery process. See Williams v. Bagley,
380 F.3d 932, 974 (6th Cir. 2004) (instructing that Rule 6 of
the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases does not
“sanction fishing expeditions based on conclusory
allegations”) (quoting Rector v. Johnson, 120
F.3d 551, 562 (5th Cir. 1997)); Till v. United
States, No. 107-CV-55, 2007 WL 1704397, at *7 (W.D.
Mich. June 11, 2007) (citing Bagley, 380 F.3d at
974) (observing that a § 2255 movant may not
“embark upon a ‘fishing expedition' based
solely on conclusory allegations”).
phase of the proceedings, the Court has no “reason to
believe that the petitioner may, if the facts are fully
developed, be able to demonstrate that he is . . . entitled
to relief.” See Bracy, 520 U.S. at 908-09.
Accordingly, Petitioner's request for discovery of sealed
documents will be denied.
also asks the Court for a ninety day extension of time-a
period to be triggered on the date of his receipt of the
sealed documents-to file a legal memorandum in support of his
§ 2255 motion [Doc. 127 p. 2]. Because the Court will
deny the discovery component of this motion, the Court
declines to grant the lengthy extension of time Petitioner
requests. Even so, the Court will allow Petitioner a lesser
amount of time to file his supporting brief. Therefore, the
part of the motion requesting additional time for Petitioner
to submit a supporting brief will be granted, but only to the
extent that Petitioner will have thirty days from the date on
this Order to file his supporting brief.
Relief Under Rule 36
also requests relief under Rule 36 of the Federal Rules of
Criminal Procedure for the Court to correct a clerical error
in the judgment [Doc. 127 p. 3]. Rule 36 provides that courts
“may at any time correct a clerical error in a
judgment.” Fed. R. Crim. P. 36. Petitioner contends
that the judgment reflects that he pled guilty to
“distribute and possess with intent to distribute a
kilogram or more, ” when he was actually convicted
“of a drug quantity of 100 grams or more” [Doc.
127 p. 3]. The Court notes that the judgment states that
Petitioner is guilty of “Conspiracy to Distribute and
Possess with Intent to Distribute 100 Grams or More of
Heroin” [Doc. 101 p. 1], which is the same offense
Petitioner contends he pled guilty to. Therefore, it does not
appear that there is a clerical error and Petitioner's
request for relief under Rule 36 will be denied.
Motion for In Forma Pauperis Status ...