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Bell v. United States

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Northeastern Division

May 25, 2017

HOWARD WAYNE BELL, Petitioner
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM

          ALETA A.TRAUGER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         Pending before the court are the Petitioner's Motion To Correct Sentence Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (Docket No. 1), the Government's Response (Docket No. 7), and the Petitioner's Reply (Docket No. 11).

         For the reasons set forth herein, the Motion To Correct Sentence (Docket No. 1) is DENIED, and this action is DISMISSED.

         II. Procedural Background

         The Petitioner pled guilty to participation in a drug trafficking conspiracy involving Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, and Alprazolam, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841, 846. (Docket Nos. 552, 553, 554, 729 in Case No. 2:11cr00002). The Plea Agreement contemplated cooperation by the Petitioner potentially leading to a Government motion for downward departure from the applicable guideline range at sentencing for substantial assistance. (Id.) At the subsequent sentencing hearing, on August 6, 2012, the court granted the Government's motion for downward departure and imposed a sentence of 75 months of imprisonment. (Docket Nos. 1131, 1134, 1135, 1958 in Case No. 2:11cr00002). The record indicates that no appeal was taken.

         On March 27, 2015, the Petitioner filed a motion seeking a sentence reduction under Amendment 782 to the Sentencing Guidelines. (Docket No. 1898 in Case No. 2:11cr00002). Amendment 782, which went into effect on November 1, 2014, reduced by two the offense levels assigned in the Drug Quantity Table, U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1, resulting in lower guideline ranges for most drug trafficking offenses. The court ultimately denied the Petitioner's motion, however, because reduction of the offense level pursuant to Amendment 782 resulted in the application of the career offender sentencing guideline, and the Petitioner's sentencing guideline range remained the same. (Docket No. 1996 in Case No. 2:11cr00002).

         III. Analysis

         A. 28 U.S.C. § 2255

         The Petitioner has brought this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Section 2255 provides a statutory mechanism for challenging the imposition of a federal sentence:

A prisoner in custody under sentence of a court established by Act of Congress claiming the right to be released upon the ground that the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, or that the court was without jurisdiction to impose such sentence, or that the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law, or is otherwise subject to collateral attack, may move the court which imposed the sentence to vacate, set aside or correct the sentence.

28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). In order to obtain relief under Section 2255, a petitioner “‘ must demonstrate the existence of an error of constitutional magnitude which had a substantial and injurious effect or influence on the guilty plea or the jury's verdict.'” Humphress v. United States, 398 F.3d 855, 858 (6th Cir. 2005)(quoting Griffin v. United States, 330 F.3d 733, 736 (6th Cir. 2003)).

         If a factual dispute arises in a § 2255 proceeding, the court is to hold an evidentiary hearing to resolve the dispute. Ray v. United States, 721 F.3d 758, 761 (6th Cir. 2013). An evidentiary hearing is not required, however, if the record conclusively shows that the petitioner is not entitled to relief. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(b); Ray, 721 F.3d at 761; Arredondo v. United States, 178 F.3d 778, 782 (6th Cir. 1999). A hearing is also unnecessary “if the petitioner's allegations ‘cannot be accepted as true because they are contradicted by the record, inherently incredible, or conclusions rather than statements of fact.'” Id.

         Having reviewed the pleadings, briefs, and records filed in the Petitioner's underlying criminal case, as well as the filings in this case, the court finds it unnecessary to hold an evidentiary hearing because the records conclusively ...


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