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Taylor v. United States

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Winchester

September 13, 2017

CHAD M. TAYLOR, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          HARRY S. MATTICE, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is a pro se motion to vacate, set aside, or correct sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (“2255 Motion”) [Doc. 36], and a motion to stay the resolution of the 2255 Motion [Doc. 37] filed by federal prisoner, Chad Taylor (“Petitioner”).[1] Respondent United States of America (the “Government”) filed a response in opposition to the 2255 Motion [Doc. 42] and this matter is now ripe. For the reasons stated below, Petitioner's 2255 Motion will be DENIED and DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In 2010, Petitioner pleaded guilty pursuant to a plea agreement to distributing cocaine base (“crack”), in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a) and (b)(1)(C), and to possessing a firearm as a felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) [Doc. 16]. In his plea agreement, Petitioner waived his right to appeal his conviction or sentence unless he received a sentence “above the sentencing guideline range or any applicable mandatory minimum (whichever is greater) [as] determined by the district court.” [Doc. 16 at Page ID # 35]. He also “knowingly and voluntarily waive[d] the right to file any motions or pleadings pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255” with the sole exception of a § 2255 motion involving claims of “ineffective assistance of counsel or prosecutorial misconduct not known to the defendant by the time of the entry of judgment” [Doc. 16 at Page ID # 35-36].

         Petitioner had several prior Tennessee drug convictions, including a 1996 conviction for possession of Schedule II narcotics [Presentence Investigation Report (“PSR”) at ¶ 35]; a 2002 conviction for selling at least half a gram of Schedule II narcotics [PSR ¶ 36]; and a 2002 conviction for selling less than half a gram of Schedule II narcotics [PSR ¶ 37]. Based on those convictions, Petitioner was subject to an enhanced maximum possible sentence of thirty years' imprisonment under 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(C) [PSR ¶ 56]. Those convictions also resulted in a determination that Petitioner was a career offender under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1, with a sentencing range of 188 to 235 months' imprisonment under the applicable advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines (“Guidelines”) [PSR ¶¶ 27, 40 & 58]. Petitioner did not object to the PSR [PSR Addendum].

         Petitioner was sentenced to a below-Guidelines term of 148 months' imprisonment in a Judgment filed on May 25, 2011 [Doc. 30]. Petitioner did not appeal, so his conviction became final at the expiration of the time for seeking such review, June 8, 2011. Thus, the § 2255 limitation period expired June 8, 2012. Well over two years later-on September 2, 2014-Petitioner's 2255 Motion was filed [Doc. 36].

         II. STANDARDS

         A prisoner in federal custody may file a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct a sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 “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.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”) establishes a statute of limitations applicable to collateral challenges under § 2255.

         Rule 4(b) of the Rules Governing Section 2255 Proceedings in the United States District Courts requires a district court to summarily dismiss a § 2255 motion if “it plainly appears from the face of the motion, the attached exhibits, and the record of the prior proceedings that the movant is not entitled to relief.” See also Pettigrew v. United States, 480 F.2d 681, 684 (6th Cir. 1973) (“A motion to vacate sentence under § 2255 can be denied for the reason that it states “only bald legal conclusions with no supporting factual allegations.” (quoting Sanders v. United States, 373 U.S. 1, 19 (1963))). If the motion is not summarily dismissed under Rule 4(b), Rule 8 requires the court to determine, after a review of the answer and the records of the case, whether an evidentiary hearing is required.

         III. ANALYSIS

         In his 2255 Motion, Petitioner seeks § 2255 relief on the grounds that (1) his attorney was allegedly constitutionally ineffective by not filing a notice of appeal; and (2) he is allegedly no longer subject to an enhanced 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(C) thirty-year sentencing maximum in light of Descamps v. United States, 133 S.Ct. 2276 (2013) and Moncrieffe v. Holder, 133 S.Ct. 1678 (2013). The Government argues Petitioner's § 2255 claims are time barred, waived, and meritless and also submitted an affidavit of Petitioner's attorney stating Petitioner never asked her to file an appeal.

         A. Petitioner's 2255 Motion is Untimely

         Pursuant to the AEDPA, a one-year statute of limitations applies to the filing of a § 2255 motion. See 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f). The one-year limitation period commences on the latest of one of the four dates set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f). As pertinent here, ...


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