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Blackwell v. United States

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee

June 18, 2018

MICHAEL BLACKWELL, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          Christopher H. Steger Magistrate Judge

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          TRAVIS R. MCDONOUGH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court are the following motions filed by Petitioner Michael Blackwell: (1) a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to Title 28, Section 2255 of the United States Code (Doc. 106); (2) a motion for extension of time to reply to the Government's response in opposition to his motion to vacate, set aside or correct his sentence and for appointment of counsel (Doc. 109); (3) a motion to expand the record (Doc. 114); and (4) a motion for clarification (Doc. 118). For the following reasons, Petitioner's motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence (Doc. 106) will be DENIED, his motion for extension of time to reply (Doc. 109) will be GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART, his motion to expand the record (Doc. 114) will be DENIED, and his motion for clarification (Doc. 118) will be DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In 2013, Petitioner pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, in violation of Title 21, Sections 846 and 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(C). (See Doc. 54.) Petitioner was subsequently classified as a career offender pursuant to United States Sentencing Guidelines § 4B1.1, based on prior Tennessee convictions for promotion of methamphetamine manufacturing and conspiracy to promote the manufacture of methamphetamine. (Doc. 66, at 6- 7.) At sentencing, Petitioner did not object to his classification as a career offender, but did argue that his career-offender designation overrepresented the seriousness of his offense and requested a downward variance. (See Doc. 63.) Based on application of the career-offender enhancement, the underlying offense, and Petitioner's criminal history, the Court calculated Petitioner's advisory guidelines range as 188 to 235 months' imprisonment. (See id.) The Court subsequently granted Petitioner's motion for a downward variance pursuant to Title 18, Section 3553(a) of the United States Code and sentenced Petitioner to 120 months' imprisonment followed by a six-year term of supervised release. (Doc. 71.) Petitioner did not appeal his conviction or sentence to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

         On March 17, 2017, Petitioner filed this instant motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to Title 28, Section 2255 of the United States Code. (Doc. 106.) In his motion, Petitioner argues that, based on the United States Supreme Court's decision in Mathis v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 2243 (2016), his prior conviction for promotion of methamphetamine manufacturing no longer qualifies as a controlled substance offense, thereby making application of the career-offender enhancement under United States Sentencing Guideline § 4B1.1 inappropriate.

         On April 17, 2017, the Government responded to Petitioner's motion (Doc. 108.) After the Government responded, Petitioner filed a motion for extension of time to reply to the Government's response (Doc. 109). In his motion for extension of time, Petitioner also requested that the Court appoint counsel to assist in drafting his reply to the Government's response. (Id.) On June 19, 2017, Petitioner filed his reply (Doc. 117.) Petitioner's motion for extension of time to file a reply to the Government's response (Doc. 109) is GRANTED to the extent Petitioner sought an extension of time to file his reply brief, but DENIED as to his request that the Court appoint counsel to assist in drafting pleadings associated with his motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence.[1]

         Additionally, on June 5, 2017, Petitioner filed a motion to expand the record. (Doc. 114.) In his motion, Petitioner requests that the Court allow him to expand the record in connection with his motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence, but he does not specify any documents, evidence, or other materials he seeks to add to the record. Rule 7 of the Rules Governing Section 2255 Proceedings for the United States District Courts provides that if a motion is not dismissed “the judge may direct the parties to expand the record by submitting materials related to the motion, ” including, letters predating the filing of the motion, documents, exhibits, affidavits, and answers to interrogatories propounded by the judge. In this case, because Petitioner has not identified the materials he seeks to add to the record, and because the Court finds that additional materials are not necessary to resolve Petitioner's motion, Petitioner's motion to expand the record (Doc. 114) is DENIED.[2]

         II. STANDARD OF LAW

         To obtain relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, a petitioner must demonstrate: “(1) an error of constitutional magnitude; (2) a sentence imposed outside the statutory limits; or (3) an error of fact or law . . . so fundamental as to render the entire proceeding invalid.” Short v. United States, 471 F.3d 686, 691 (6th Cir. 2006) (quoting Mallett v. United States, 334 F.3d 491, 496-97 (6th Cir. 2003)). He “must clear a significantly higher hurdle than would exist on direct appeal” and establish 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).

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Timeliness of Petition

         Title 28, Section 2255(f) of the United States Code is a one-year statute of limitations on all petitions for collateral relief under § 2255 running from: (1) the date when the judgment of conviction becomes final; (2) the date when the impediment to making a motion created by governmental action in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States is removed, if the movant was prevented from making a motion by such governmental action; (3) the date when the right asserted was initially recognized by the Supreme Court, if that right has been newly recognized by the Supreme Court and made retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review; or (4) the date when the facts supporting the claim or claims presented could have been discovered through the exercise of due diligence. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f).

         In this case, Petitioner's motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence is not timely. In his motion, Petitioner asserts that his motion is timely because he filed it within one year of the Supreme Court's decision in Mathis v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 2243 (2016).[3] (Doc. 106, at 12.) Under Title 28, Section 2255(f)(3) of the United States Code, however, Petitioner's motion is considered timely only if Mathis created a newly recognized right that the Supreme Court made retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review. In In re Conzelmann, 872 F.3d 375, 376-77 (6th Cir. 2017), the Sixth Circuit held that Mathis did not announce a new rule of constitutional law made retroactive to cases on collateral review by the Supreme Court. ...


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