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Farmer v. United States

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee

March 28, 2018




         Petitioner Christopher Ray Farmer has filed a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 [Doc. 1385]. The government responded in opposition to Petitioner's requested relief [Doc. 1753]. 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, No. 3:15-CV-65 will be dismissed.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Petitioner was charged with one count of conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine [Doc. 3].[1] Petitioner subsequently pleaded guilty to the charge [Doc. 439] pursuant to a plea agreement [Doc. 412]. The Court sentenced Petitioner to a term of 246 months' imprisonment [Doc. 1125]. Petitioner filed an appeal of his conviction and sentence, but the Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal as untimely [Doc. 1394]. Petitioner also filed the instant § 2255 motion [Doc. 1385], which the government opposes [Doc. 1753].


         The relief authorized by 28 U.S.C. § 2255 “does not encompass all claimed errors in conviction and sentencing.” United States v. Addonizio, 442 U.S. 178, 185 (1979). Rather, to obtain relief, a petitioner must establish (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 proceedings invalid. Moss v. United States, 323 F.3d 445, 454 (6th Cir. 2003). He “must clear a significantly higher hurdle than would exist on direct appeal” and demonstrate a “fundamental defect in the proceedings which necessarily results in a complete miscarriage of justice or an egregious error violative of due process.” Fair v. United States, 157 F.3d 427, 430 (6th Cir. 1998).

         Moreover, a petitioner alleging ineffective assistance of counsel must satisfy the two-part test set forth in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687 (1987). He must identify specific acts or omissions to prove that counsel's performance was deficient and that counsel did not provide “reasonably effective assistance, ” id., as measured by “prevailing professional norms, ” Rompilla v. Beard, 545 U.S. 374, 380 (2005). Counsel is presumed to have provided effective assistance, and petitioner bears the burden of showing otherwise. Mason v. Mitchell, 320 F.3d 604, 616-17 (6th Cir. 2003); see also Strickland, 466 U.S. at 689 (a reviewing court “must indulge a strong presumption that counsel's conduct falls within the wide range of reasonable professional assistance”). A petitioner must also establish “a reasonable probability that, but for [counsel's acts or omissions], the result of the proceedings would have been different.” Strickland, 466 U.S. at 694. “An error by counsel, even if professionally unreasonable, does not warrant setting aside the judgment of a criminal proceeding if the error had no effect on the judgment.” Id. at 691; see also Smith v. Robbins, 528 U.S. 259, 285-86 (2000). Because a petitioner “must satisfy both prongs of Strickland to obtain relief on an ineffectiveness claim, the inability to prove either one of the prongs- regardless of which one-relieves the reviewing court of any duty to consider the other.” Nichols v. United States, 563 F.3d 240, 249 (6th Cir. 2009) (en banc) (emphasis in original); accord Strickland, 466 U.S. at 697.

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Petitioner's Motion Is Insufficient In Form And Substance

         Petitioner's motion is a two page, hand-written letter. Although the letter appears to be signed by Petitioner, the signature is neither given under oath nor by affirmation. Thus, the motion violates the requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 2255(b)(5). Moreover, the motion substantively amounts to a request for an “extension” of time in which to file (1) the actual recitation of the “facts of this appeal” and (2) a statement of the “grounds” of the appeal. As such, the Motion fails to satisfy the requirements that a §2255 motion must:

(1) specify all the grounds for relief available to the moving party; and
(2) state the facts supporting each ground.

         Rule 2(b), Rules Governing Section 2255 cases in the United States District Courts.

         Finally, the motion requests the appointment of counsel, because, as Petitioner states, “I wish to not go farther until I have proper representation.” However, a § 2255 motion is not a proper vehicle to request the appointment of counsel. Moreover, Petitioner filed a prior ...

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