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Bates v. United States

United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Eastern Division

October 3, 2017

RODNEY BATES, Movant,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent. Crim. No. 06-10017-JDT

          ORDER PARTIALLY DENYING MOTION PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 2255 AND DIRECTING UNITED STATES TO RESPOND

          JAMES D. TODD UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is a pro se motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 filed by the Movant, Rodney Bates. At the time he filed the § 2255 motion, Bates was incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Complex Low in Yazoo City, Mississippi.

         On March 20, 2006, a federal grand jury returned a one-count superseding indictment charging Bates with possession of “crack” cocaine with intent to distribute, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a). (No. 06-10017, Crim. ECF No. 1.) He entered a guilty plea on May 11, 2006 (id., Crim. ECF Nos. 17 & 20), pursuant to a written plea agreement (id., Crim. ECF No. 19). At a hearing on August 10, 2006, the Court sentenced Bates to a 188-month term of imprisonment, to be followed by four years of supervised release. (Id., Crim. ECF No. 23.) Judgment was entered on August 14, 2006. (Id., Crim. ECF No. 25.) Pursuant to an appeal waiver in the plea agreement (id., Crim. ECF No. 19 at 2-3), no direct appeal was filed at that time.

         Bates subsequently filed a motion for reduction of his sentence after passage of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, Pub. L. No. 111-220, 124 Stat. 2372 (Aug. 3, 2010), pursuant to which the U.S. Sentencing Commission amended the sentencing guidelines applicable to certain drug offenses. (No. 06-10017, Crim. ECF No. 27.) The Court denied that motion on May 16, 2014. (Id., Crim. ECF No. 30.) Bates filed a second pro se motion to reduce sentence in accordance with the Sentencing Commission's further amendment of the guidelines in 2014. (Id., Crim. ECF No. 31.) That motion also was denied. (Id., Crim. ECF No. 41.) On December 3, 2015, Bates filed a notice of appeal from the criminal judgment that had been entered in August 2006. (Id., Crim. ECF No. 37.) The Sixth Circuit dismissed the appeal as untimely. United States v. Bates, No. 15-6340 (6th Cir. Dec. 18, 2015).

         On June 29, 2016, the Clerk received and docketed Bates's pro se § 2255 motion, in which he raises the following issues:

1. Whether his attorney rendered ineffective assistance, in violation of the Sixth Amendment, in failing to file a direct appeal after being requested to do so;
2. Whether his attorney rendered ineffective assistance, in violation of the Sixth Amendment, in failing to challenge, at sentencing, the use of two of Bates's prior offenses to erroneously qualify him as a career offender under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.2;
3. Whether Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015), applies to the “residual clause” of the career offender guideline, U.S.S.G. § 4B1.2; and
4. Whether his attorney rendered ineffective assistance, in violation of the Sixth Amendment, in failing to challenge his sentence under the Fair Sentencing Act.

(ECF No. 1 at 4-8.)

         On December 19, 2016, President Barack Obama granted Bates executive clemency, commuting his sentence so that it would expire on July 31, 2017, but leaving in place the four-year period of supervised release. (No. 06-100176, Crim. ECF No. 46 at 2.) Therefore, Bates has now been released from prison. He has not provided the Court with any new address, and his current whereabouts are unknown.

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a),

[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.

         “A prisoner seeking relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 must allege either (1) an error of constitutional magnitude; (2) a sentence imposed outside the statutory limits; or (3) an error of fact or law that was so fundamental as to render the entire proceeding invalid.” Short v. ...


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