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Franklin v. United States

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

November 15, 2017

CHARLES EUGENE FRANKLIN, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          WAVERLY D. CRENSHAW, JR. CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         Pending before the Court are the Petitioner's pro se Motion Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 To Vacate, Set Aside, Or Correct Sentence (Doc. Nos. 1, 2); an Amended Motion For Relief Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (Doc. No. 12), filed by counsel for the Petitioner; the Government's Response (Doc. No. 25); a Second Amended Motion For Relief Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (Doc. No. 33); the Government's Response To Petitioner's Second Amended Motion (Doc. No. 42); and the Petitioner's Reply (Doc. No. 43). For the reasons set forth herein, the Petitioner's Motions Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 To Vacate, Set Aside, Or Correct Sentence (Doc. Nos. 1, 2, 12, 33) are DENIED, and this action is DISMISSED.

         II. Procedural and Factual Background

         The Petitioner was initially charged with unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon (Count One), and possession with intent to distribute cocaine and cocaine base (Count Two). (Doc. No. 10 in Case No. 3:13cr00214). Through the issuance of a Superseding Indictment, the Petitioner was charged with five more drug trafficking counts, and Count Two was amended to add a specific amount - 28 grams or more - of cocaine base. (Doc. No. 21 in Case No. 3:13cr00214). Pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 851, the Government filed an Information Alleging Prior Felony Drug Conviction (Doc. No. 40 in Case No. 3:13cr214), indicating that the Petitioner had a prior Tennessee drug trafficking conviction that subjected him to an enhanced sentence on the drug trafficking charges. Specifically, the Government alleged that the Petitioner was subject to a sentence of 10 years to life imprisonment on the first drug trafficking count, and to a maximum sentence of 30 years on the other drug trafficking counts. (Id.)

         Counsel for the Petitioner in the criminal case filed a motion to suppress on his behalf, which now-retired Judge Todd J. Campbell denied after holding an evidentiary hearing. (Doc. Nos. 26, 35, 42, 44 in Case No. 3:13cr00214). The Petitioner subsequently pled guilty to Counts One and Two. (Doc. Nos. 50, 51, 80 in Case No. 3:13cr00214). Through the Plea Agreement, the Government agreed to dismiss the remaining counts at sentencing and to withdraw the Section 851 Information, and the Petitioner agreed that the conduct charged in the dismissed counts would be considered relevant conduct for purposes of sentencing. (Doc. No. 51, at 10-11, in Case No. 3:13cr00214). The parties also agreed that the Petitioner would retain his right to appeal the denial of his suppression motion. (Id., at 17).

         At the subsequent sentencing hearing, on May 27, 2015, Judge Campbell accepted the determination of the Probation Office in the Presentence Investigation Report (Doc. No. 76, at ¶ 24, in Case No. 3:13cr00214) that the Petitioner's base offense level was 24 under U.S.S.G. § 2K2.1 because he had prior Tennessee convictions for Aggravated Burglary, Possession of Over .5 Grams of Cocaine With Intent to Distribute, and Felony Evading Arrest. (Doc. No. 81, at 4, in Case No. 3:13cr00214). Judge Campbell also concluded that the Petitioner was a career offender based on the same prior convictions, which resulted in a total offense level of 31. (Id., at 4-5; Doc. No. 76, at ¶ 31). Because the Petitioner had 21 criminal history points, Judge Campbell determined that he fell within category VI without regard to the career offender designation. (Id., at 6; Doc. No. 76, at ¶ 49). Based on a criminal history category of VI and a total offense level of 31, Judge Campbell calculated the Petitioner's advisory guideline range as 188 to 235 months of imprisonment, noting that the Petitioner was subject to a five-year mandatory minimum sentence on Count Two based on the charged quantity of cocaine base. (Id., at 6).

         Counsel for the Petitioner called the Petitioner's sister to testify on his behalf at the sentencing hearing, and requested a downward variance to 130 to 162 months of imprisonment. (Id., at 8-17; 20-26). The Government requested a sentence of 200 months. (Id., at 18). After considering the arguments of the parties, Judge Campbell rejected the suggestions of both sides, and determined that a sentence at the bottom of the guideline range - 188 months - was the appropriate sentence. (Id., at 27-36). Specifically, Judge Campbell sentenced the Petitioner to 120 months on Count One and 188 months on Count Two, to be served concurrently. (Id., at 32; Doc. Nos. 70, 71 in Case No. 3:13cr00214).

         Counsel for the Petitioner appealed the denial of the suppression motion, and the Sixth Circuit affirmed. (Doc. No. 77 in Case No. 3:13cr00214).

         III. Analysis

         A. The Petitioner's Claims

         Through his various Motions, the Petitioner raises claims based on Johnson v. United States, ___U.S. ___, 135 S.Ct. 2551, 192 L.Ed.2d 569 (2015) and Mathis v. United States, ___U.S. ___, 136 S.Ct. 2243, 195 L.Ed.2d 604 (2016), as well as an ineffective assistance of counsel claim.

         B. The Section 2255 Remedy

         28 U.S.C. Section 2255 provides federal prisoners with a statutory mechanism by which to seek to have their sentence vacated, set aside or corrected:

(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.

28 U.S.C. § 2255(a).

         In order to obtain relief under Section 2255, the petitioner must demonstrate constitutional error that had a “‘substantial and injurious effect or influence on the guilty plea or the jury's verdict.'” Hamblen v. United States, 591 F.3d 471, 473 (6th ...


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