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Goins v. United States

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville

July 15, 2019

QUINCY A. GOINS, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Leon Jordan United States District Judge.

         Petitioner Quincy A. Goins was indicted by a federal grand jury on one count of possessing crack cocaine with the intent to distribute, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). Petitioner's first trial ensued in a mistrial [Doc. 17, No. 3:00-CR-123].[1] At Petitioner's second trial, a jury convicted him of the controlled substance offense and the Court sentenced him to a mandatory life term.[2] Petitioner now brings two motions for the Court's consideration: (i) a motion for a refund of his appellate filing fee and (ii) a motion to set aside judgment under Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure [Docs. 25-26]. For the following reasons, the Court will deny the first motion and dismiss the second for lack of jurisdiction.

         I. RELEVANT PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On direct appeal, Petitioner's conviction and sentence were affirmed and the Supreme Court denied Petitioner's application for certiorari review. United States v. Goins, 53 Fed.Appx. 724 (6th Cir. 2002), cert. denied, 538 U.S. 971 (2003). Thereafter, Petitioner, through counsel, filed a timely motion to vacate, set aside or correct sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 [Doc. 1]. On July 2, 2007, the Court denied the § 2255 motion, denied issuance of a certificate of appealability, certified that any appeal from its decision would not be taken in good faith and would be frivolous, and denied Petitioner leave to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal [Doc. 18].

         Acting pro se, Petitioner filed a notice of appeal [Doc. 19]. Upon receipt of the notice, the Sixth Circuit sent Petitioner a letter [Doc. 20]. The letter advised Petitioner that, if he had proceeded as a pauper while his case was in the district court, and if the district judge revoked that status by ruling that an appeal would not be taken in good faith, then Petitioner had 30 days to renew his motion for pauper status in the Sixth Circuit [Doc. 20 at 2]. Both conditions existed in Petitioner's case. Petitioner had proceeded as a pauper in his § 2255 motion, and this Court revoked his pauper status by finding that an appeal would not be taken in good faith [Doc. 8].

         Petitioner did not heed the Sixth Circuit's advice. Petitioner did not apply to the Sixth Circuit for pauper status on appeal, but instead, he moved this Court for leave to proceed on appeal in forma pauperis [Doc. 21]. The Court denied his application [Doc. 22]. Petitioner's mother then submitted a $455.00 money order in satisfaction of her son's appellate filing fee [Oct. 23, 2007, Docket Entry and Remarks, Doc. 23 (Letter from Colleen Goins re: payment of appellate filing fee)]. Petitioner's appeal proceeded in due course and terminated upon the Sixth Circuit's denial of a certificate of appealability in its September 8, 2008 order [Doc. 24].

         II. MOTION FOR REFUND

         In the first pending motion, Petitioner asks the Court to refund the appellate filing fee in the § 2255 proceedings that was submitted by his mother [Doc. 25]. Petitioner maintains that the law is clear that the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”) does not apply to § 2255 proceedings, but that this Court nonetheless applied the PLRA to require him to pay the appellate filing fee for his § 2255 appeal [Doc. 25 at 1]. The application of the PLRA to Petitioner's motion to vacate was legal error, so claims Petitioner.

         “[T]he Judicial Conference has a longstanding policy prohibiting the refund of fees, ” yet an exception exists “when fees are collected without authority.” Rashada v. Gonzales, No. 1:07-CV-1055, 2007 WL 1795873, at *1 (N.D. Ohio June 20, 2007) (quoting JCUS-MAR 05, p. 11). The Court understands that Petitioner is suggesting that this Court's alleged misapplication of the PLRA to collect appellate filing fees fits within that exception, i.e., collection of filing fees without the authority to do so. Petitioner has stated the law correctly-the PLRA's filing fee requirements do not apply to motions to vacate. Kincade v. Sparkman, 117 F.3d 949, 950 (6th Cir. 1997) (finding that the filing fee provisions of the PLRA, as set forth in 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(a)-(b), are inapplicable to judgments denying § 2255 motions). Petitioner is not so circumspect with regard to the facts he has alleged in support of his motion for a refund.

         The Court has no cause to venture into the “refund” arena because it neither mentioned nor applied the PLRA in its disposition of Petitioner's pauper status request [Doc. 22]. As demonstrated by the above-detailed description of the relevant procedural history in this case, the Court did not assess Petitioner the appellate filing fee and did not require him to pay the appellate filing fee. Neither did the Court apply the PLRA's filing fee requirements or collection procedures to Petitioner. Indeed, after the Court denied Petitioner's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal, he had another, more appropriate judicial avenue open to him (as described in the letter sent to him by the Sixth Circuit) through which he could have obtained pauper status- applying for such status in the circuit court. Petitioner chose instead to submit the filing fee to this Court (through the auspices of his mother), rather than to pursue pauper status in the Sixth Circuit, as he was instructed to do by the appellate court.

         Accordingly, because the entire premise of Petitioner's motion for a refund of the filing fee rests on the Court's purported error in applying the PLRA to Petitioner's request to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal and because the Court did not commit an error in deciding his request, his motion for a refund [Doc. 25] is factually frivolous and will be denied.

         III. RULE 60(B) MOTION FOR RELIEF FROM JUDGMENT

         In Petitioner's second motion, filed March 18, 2013, he seeks relief from the judgment denying his motion to vacate, under Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure [Doc. 26]. In the Rule 60(b) motion, Petitioner asserts two claims not raised in his original § 2255 motion. First, Petitioner maintains that the ruling in Martinez v Ryan, 566 U.S. 1 (2012), [3] stands for the proposition that he was entitled to effective assistance of counsel in his § 2255 motion and the fact that his counseled § 2255 motion was dismissed without a determination, in and of itself, shows that he did not receive effective assistance in those proceedings.[4]

         Second, Petitioner maintains that the decision in Lafler v. Cooper, 566 U.S. 156 (2012), [5]applies to his case and now allows him to claim that, had counsel properly advised him as to the true risks and consequences of a trial, Petitioner would have accepted the government's plea deal of a 20-year sentence and would not have gone to trial, where he faced (and received) a mandatory life sentence [Doc. 26 at 9]. Petitioner asks the Court to vacate its order dismissing his § 2255 motion, restore the § 2255 motion to ...


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