United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee
A. VARLAN, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Junelle Elaine Jerrell (“Petitioner”) has filed a
motion to vacate, set aside, or correct her sentence pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 [Doc. 1401]. The United States has
responded to the motion, objecting to Petitioner's
requested relief [Doc. 1427]. The matter is now ripe for
consideration. The Court has determined that Petitioner is
not entitled to relief under § 2255, and therefore no
evidentiary hearing is necessary. For the reasons set forth
herein, Petitioner's § 2255 motion lacks merit and
will be denied. Accordingly, Case No. 3:15-CV-140 will be
March 19, 2013, a Grand Jury returned an Indictment charging
Petitioner with conspiracy to manufacture fifty grams or more
of methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§
846, 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(A). On May 1, 2013, Petitioner
entered into a Plea Agreement with the government [Doc. 426].
On June 10, 2013, the government filed an “Information
to Establish Prior Conviction, ” pursuant to 21 U.S.C.
§ 851. This placed Petitioner on notice that she was
subject to an enhanced punishment as provided for in 21
U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A) as a result of a prior felony drug
conviction. Specifically, the notice indicated Petitioner had
a prior Class B felony conviction in Tennessee entered on
October 29, 2012 for “Possession of Schedule II more
than .5 grams” [Doc. 505-1]. After the government filed
the Information, Petitioner's counsel then withdrew, and
the Court appointed new counsel on July 15, 2013 [Doc. 564].
On July 19, 2013, Petitioner signed an identical Plea
Agreement as she had entered before [Doc. 568]. In her plea
agreement, she agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to
manufacture fifty grams or more of methamphetamine and
acknowledged that “because [she] has a prior felony
drug conviction the punishment for this offense is a minimum
mandatory term of imprisonment of 20 years up to life . . .
.” [Doc. 568, Plea Agreement, pg. 1]. As part
of her plea agreement, Petitioner acknowledged that she had
purchased or obtained from others pseudoephedrine which was
used to manufacture “a conservative estimate of at
least fifty (50) grams but less than 150 grams of actual
methamphetamine, resulting in a base offense level of
32.” [Doc. 568, Plea Agreement, pg. 2]. In the
plea agreement, Petitioner waived filing a direct appeal and
any challenges to her conviction or sentence under 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255 except for claims of ineffective assistance of
counsel [Doc. 568, Plea Agreement, pg. 6].
Court then scheduled a change of plea hearing. At this
hearing, the District Court advised Petitioner that she faced
a twenty year mandatory minimum term of imprisonment [Doc.
1261, Transcript, pg. 9, 11-12]. The following
colloquy before the Court occurred:
THE COURT: Specifically, do you understand because you have a
prior felony drug conviction, the punishment for this offense
is a minimum mandatory term of imprisonment of twenty years
to life . . . .
MS. JERRELL: Yes.
[Doc. 1261, pg. 11-12].
on Petitioner's stipulation in the Plea Agreement, the
Presentence Report (“PSR”) calculated her
guideline range of imprisonment to be the statutorily
required minimum sentence of twenty years. PSR ¶ 85. No
objections were filed to the PSR [Doc. 986]. On January 16,
2014, the government filed a motion authorizing the Court to
depart from the mandatory minimum sentence pursuant to both
18 U.S.C. § 3553(e) and U.S.S.G. § 5K1.1 [Doc.
sentencing hearing on March 25, 2014, the District Court
again asked Petitioner if she understood that because of her
prior felony drug conviction, the offense “requires a
sentence consisting of a mandatory minimum term of
imprisonment of twenty years up to life” [Doc. 1273,
pg. 4]. The following colloquy then occurred regarding her
prior felony drug offense:
THE COURT: Similarly, are you aware of the fact that on June
10, 2013, the government filed a notice of enhancement based
on your prior felony drug conviction, that being possession
of Schedule II, more than .5 grams, in the Criminal Circuit
Court of Anderson County, Tennessee, Case No. B0C00905, on
October 29, 2012?
MS. JERRELL: Yes.
THE COURT: Do you affirm or deny this prior conviction?
MS. JERRELL: I affirm.
THE COURT: Do you understand any challenge to this prior
conviction not made before sentence is imposed may not
thereafter be raised to attack the sentence? Do you
understand what I'm asking there?
MS. JERRELL: I'm not sure.
THE COURT: I mean, I've asked you to affirm the prior
conviction. I'm asking you again about that, but do you
understand that if you don't make a challenge, to the
extent there could be a challenge to the fact of the prior
conviction, that if you don't make it before sentence is
imposed you can't, somewhere, time, down the road, say,
attack your ...