United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division
JAMES C. CACHERIS, District Judge.
This matter is before the Court on Petitioner Edward Macauley's ("Petitioner") Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. [Dkt. 321.] For the following reasons, the Court will deny Petitioner's motion.
On January 17, 2012, Petitioner appeared before this Court and pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to import heroin in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 963. (Plea Mins. [Dkt. 157] at 1.) Petitioner simultaneously entered a plea agreement wherein the Government agreed to drop several other charges in exchange for Petitioner's full cooperation. (Plea Agreement [Dkt. 158] at 1, 6.) The plea agreement contained, among other terms, the following provision:
This written agreement constitutes the complete plea agreement between the United States, the defendant, and the defendant's counsel. The defendant and the defendant's attorney acknowledge that no threats, promises, or representations have been made, nor agreements reached, other than those set forth in writing in this plea agreement, to cause the defendant to plead guilty.
( Id. at 11-12.) The agreement also informed Petitioner that any subsequent motion to reduce his sentence pursuant to Rule 35(b) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure would be at the Government's sole discretion. ( Id. at 8.)
During the ensuring plea colloquy, Petitioner confirmed that he had been given ample opportunity to read over the plea agreement and consult with his attorney. The Court also affirmed that this plea agreement represented the entire bargain between the parties. The Court then reviewed with Petitioner the constitutional rights he was forfeiting by pleading guilty along with the facts alleged in the indictment. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Court found Petitioner's plea knowing and voluntary. (Plea Mins. at 1.)
On April 6, 2012, the Court sentenced Petitioner to 168 months incarceration along with five years' supervised release. (Sentencing Mins. [Dkt. 247] at 1.) Petitioner did not appeal.
Petitioner then filed the instant motion on November 4, 2013, seeking to overturn his conviction. (Mot. to Vacate at 7.) Liberally construed, Petitioner's motion asserts the following grounds for relief: (1) the Government breached its oral promise to file a sentence reduction motion under Rule 35; and (2) his extradition from Ghana was unlawful. ( Id. at 5.) The merits of these allegations are addressed below.
II. Standard of Review
A motion to vacate, set aside, or correct sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 allows a prisoner to challenge the legality of his sentence on four grounds: (1) "the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States"; (2) "the court was without jurisdiction to impose such sentence"; (3) "the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law"; or (4) the sentence is "otherwise subject to collateral attack." 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). The petitioner bears the burden of demonstrating his grounds for relief by a preponderance of the evidence. See Hall v. United States, 30 F.Supp.2d 883, 889 (E.D. Va. 1998).
A § 2255 motion is, in essence, a statutory federal habeas corpus action that collaterally attacks a sentence or conviction through the filing of a new proceeding, as contrasted with a direct appeal. See In re Jones, 226 F.3d 328, 332-33 (4th Cir. 2000) ("[Section] 2255 was intended to afford federal prisoners a remedy identical in scope to federal habeas corpus[.]'" (quoting Davis v. United States, 417 U.S. 333, 343 (1974))). The existence of the right to pursue a collateral attack, however, does not displace a direct appeal as the "usual and customary method of correcting trial errors." United States v. Allgood, 48 F.Supp.2d 554, 558 (E.D. Va. 1999). Consequently, claims regarding trial or sentencing errors that could have been, but were not, raised on direct appeal are procedurally barred from review under § 2255. See Bousley v. United States, 523 U.S. 614, 621-22 (1998). "Where a defendant has procedurally defaulted a claim by failing to raise it on direct review, the claim may be raised in habeas only if the defendant can first demonstrate either cause' and actual prejudice, '... or that he is actually innocent.'" Id. at 622 (citations omitted).