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Meeks v. United States

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee

June 7, 2019

TONY MEEKS, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          HARRY S. MATTICE, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Federal inmate Tony Meeks 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, to which Meeks has replied. 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 Meeks' § 2255 motion will be denied.

         I. BACKGROUND FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         In 2011, Meeks' pleaded guilty to conspiring to manufacture and distribute at least 5 grams of methamphetamine and 50 grams of a mixture containing methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846 and 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(B) [Doc. 116 in No. 4:11-CR-25]. His plea agreement contained a provision waiving, with limited exceptions, Meeks' rights to file an appeal or collateral attack [Id. at ¶ 14]. Based on his three prior Tennessee convictions involving methamphetamine - specifically, manufacturing methamphetamine, possessing methamphetamine with intent to sell or deliver, and attempting to manufacture methamphetamine - Meeks was classified as a career offender with a United States Sentencing Guidelines (“Guideline(s)”) range of 262 to 327 months' imprisonment [Presentence Investigation Report (“PSR”) at ¶¶ 26, 36-38, 63 in No. 4:11-CR-25]. Meeks was ultimately sentenced to 225 months' imprisonment [Doc. 165 in No. 4:11-CR-25]. Meeks did not appeal.

         On or about June 23, 2017, Meeks filed the instant § 2255 motion challenging his conviction and sentence in light of the Supreme Court's decision in Mathis v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 2243 (2016) [Doc. 1]. After being ordered by this Court to file a response or other responsive pleading, the United States filed its response on December 5, 2017 [Doc. 6]. Meeks thereafter submitted a reply to the Government's response [Doc. 7]. This matter is ripe for review.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         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).

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Waiver

         In his plea agreement, Meeks expressly “waive[d] the right to file any motions or pleadings pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255” with the exception of “claims of ineffective assistance of counsel or prosecutorial misconduct” [Doc. 116 in No. 4:11-CR-25]. The excepted claims are not at issue here.

         A knowing and voluntary waiver of § 2255 claims is enforceable. Davila v. United States, 258 F.3d 448, 450-51 (6th Cir. 2001). There is no dispute that Meeks entered into a knowing and voluntary plea agreement. Therefore, Meeks' claims are barred by his § 2255 waiver.

         It is irrelevant that Meeks entered into his waiver before Mathis was decided. After all, a “plea agreement allocates risk, and the possibility of a favorable change in the law after a plea is simply one of the risks that accompanies pleas and plea agreements.” Slusser v. United States, 895 F.3d 437, 440 (6th Cir. 2018) (citation and quotation marks omitted). Accordingly, Meeks has waived his right to challenge his sentence under the reasoning of Mathis.

         B. Merits

         Out of an abundance of caution, the Court considers the merits of Meeks' arguments. Meeks disputes his career-offender classification, contending that his prior Tennessee felony drug convictions are no longer career-offender predicates after the Supreme Court's decision in Mathis, because the elements of the offense under the statute ...


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