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Metcalf v. United States

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee

May 3, 2019




         Federal inmate Charles Metcalf, Jr., has filed a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Respondent has filed a response in opposition to the motion. Having considered the pleadings and the record, along with the relevant law, the Court finds that it is unnecessary to hold an evidentiary hearing[1], and Metcalf's § 2255 motion will be denied.


         Metcalf pleaded guilty to conspiring to manufacture and distribute at least 50 grams of methamphetamine and at least 500 grams of a methamphetamine mixture, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846 and 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(A) [Doc. 386 in No. 4:11-CR-12]. The charge to which Metcalf pleaded guilty carried a statutory mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years' imprisonment, up to the statutory maximum of life imprisonment. See 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A). On November 22, 2011, the Court sentenced Metcalf to 120 months' imprisonment, the lowest sentence authorized by statute [Doc. 386 in No. 4:11-CR-12]. Metcalf did not appeal. Nearly five years later, on or about August 4, 2016, Metcalf filed the instant motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 [Doc. 1], seeking relief in light of (1) Amendment 794, which clarified the circumstances under which courts may grant a minor-role reduction under United States Sentencing Guideline (“Guideline(s)”) § 3B1.2; and (2) Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015), which held that “imposing an increased sentence under the residual clause of the Armed Career Criminal Act violates the Constitution's guarantee of due process.” Johnson, 135 S.Ct. at 2563. This Court ordered the United States to respond to Metcalf's motion, and the United States filed its response on October 11, 2016 [Doc. 5].


         After a defendant has been convicted and exhausted his appeal rights, a court may presume that “he stands fairly and finally convicted.” United States v. Frady, 456 U.S. 152, 164 (1982). A court may grant relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, but the statute “does not encompass all claimed errors in conviction and sentencing.” United States v. Addonizio, 442 U.S. 178, 185 (1979). Rather, collateral attack limits a movant's allegations to those of constitutional or jurisdictional magnitude, or those containing factual or legal errors “so fundamental as to render the entire proceeding invalid.” Short v. United States, 471 F.3d 686, 691 (6th Cir. 2006) (citation omitted); see also 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a).


         A. Timeliness

         A one-year statute of limitations applies to § 2255 motions and typically runs from “the date on which the judgment of conviction becomes final.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f)(1). Because Metcalf did not file an appeal, his conviction became final on December 6, 2011, the expiration of the time to appeal (November 22, 2011 plus 14 days). See Sanchez-Castellano v. United States, 358 F.3d 424, 428 (6th Cir. 2004) (holding where no appeal is filed, a judgment of conviction becomes “final” when the period for filing a direct appeal has elapsed); see also Fed. R. App. P. 4(b) (allowing party fourteen days to file appeal in criminal case). Metcalf, however, did not file his § 2255 motion until on or about August 4, 2016 [Doc. 1 p. 14]. Therefore, Metcalf's motion is untimely under § 2255(f)(1).

         Metcalf cites the Johnson decision to invoke the § 2255(f)(3) “running date” for the one-year limitations period. This alternate limitation period runs from “the date on which 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.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f)(3). However, Johnson was decided on June 26, 2015. Johnson, 135 S.Ct. 2551. Metcalf did not file his motion within one year of the Johnson decision. Accordingly, even under § 2255(f)(3), Metcalf's motion is untimely.

         The Court notes that the § 2255 limitations period may be tolled under extraordinary circumstances. Dunlap v. United States, 250 F.3d 1001, 1007 (6th Cir. 2001). Equitable tolling typically only applies “when a litigant's failure to meet a legally-mandated deadline unavoidably rose from circumstances beyond that litigant's control.” Jurado v. Burt, 337 F.3d 638, 642 (6th Cir. 2003). It is the petitioner's burden to prove equitable tolling's application to his case. Allen v. Yukins, 366 F.3d 396, 401 (6th Cir. 2004). To satisfy his burden, a petitioner must show “(1) that he has been pursuing his rights diligently, and (2) that some extraordinary circumstance stood in his way and prevented timely filing.” Holland v. Florida, 560 U.S. 631, 649 (2010). Metcalf has not attempted to make any such showing in this case, and he is not entitled to equitable tolling. Accordingly, the instant motion is untimely.

         B. Merits

         Alternatively, the Court finds that Metcalf's claims are without merit. First, Metcalf contends that Johnson provides a basis to reduce his sentence, as his sentence was “enhanced” by an “arbitrary” drug weight [Doc. 1 p. 5]. However, Metcalf's sentence was the lowest possible sentence to the offense to which he pleaded guilty. See 21 U.S.C. §§ 846 and 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(A) (establishing 10-year mandatory minimum). Moreover, Johnson held only that the residual clause of the Armed Career Criminal Act was unconstitutionally vague. Johnson, 135 S.Ct. at 2563. Metcalf was not sentenced as an armed career criminal. Therefore, Johnson has no application to the statute to which Metcalf admitted violating.

         Next, Metcalf seeks a sentence reduction in light of Guideline Amendment 794, which went into effect on November 1, 2015, and which clarifies under what circumstances a defendant may be eligible for a minor-role reduction under Guideline § 3B1.2. Guidelines app. C, amend. 794 (2015). It provides that, when deciding whether to grant a reduction for a minor role, courts should consider whether a defendant is “substantially less culpable than the average participant in the criminal activity.” Id. Metcalf ...

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