United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
JEFFREY A. PLEASANT, Petitioner,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.
E. Payne Senior United States District Judge
a jury trial, this Court convicted Jeffrey A. Pleasant of two
counts of interfering with commerce by threats or violence,
two counts of carrying a firearm during and in relation to a
crime of violence, two counts of possession of a firearm in
furtherance of a crime of violence, and one count of
possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. See United
States v. Pleasant, 31 F.App'x 91, 92 (4th Cir.
2002). The Court sentenced Pleasant to 622 months of
imprisonment. Id. By Memorandum Opinion and Order
entered on April 22, 2003, the Court denied a motion under 28
U.S.C. § 2255 filed by Pleasant. United States v.
Pleasant, No. 3:00CR71 (E.D. Va. Apr. 22, 2003), ECF
Nos. 93-94. Since the dismissal of his § 2255 motion,
Pleasant has inundated the Court with post-conviction motions
challenging his federal convictions and state charges.
matter is now before the Court on Pleasant's "Writ
for Relief From Judgment Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1651(a)." ("Writ for Relief, " ECF No. 1
(capitalization corrected).) As explained below,
Pleasant's Writ for Relief must be treated as a
successive, unauthorized 28 U.S.C. § 2255 motion.
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996
restricted the jurisdiction of the district courts to hear
second or successive applications for federal habeas corpus
relief by prisoners attacking the validity of their
convictions and sentences by establishing a "gatekeeping
mechanism." Felker v. Turpin, 518 U.S. 651, 657
(1996) (internal quotation marks omitted). Specifically,
"[b]efore a second or successive application permitted
by this section is filed in the district court, the applicant
shall move in the appropriate court of appeals for an order
authorizing the district court to consider the
application." 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(3)(A).
United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has
held that inmates may not avoid the bar on successive
collateral attacks on their convictions and sentences by
inventive labeling. See United States v. Winestock,
340 F.3d 200, 206-07 (4th Cir. 2003). "Call it a motion
for a new trial, arrest of judgment, mandamus, prohibition,
coram nobis, coram vobis, audita querela, capias, habeas
corpus . . . the name makes no difference. It is substance
that controls." Melton v. United States, 359
F.3d 855, 857 (7th Cir. 2004) (citing Thurman v.
Gramley, 97 F.3d 185, 186-87 (7th Cir. 1996)). Thus,
“[a] ny motion filed in the district court that imposed
the sentence, and substantively within the scope of §
2255[(a)], is a motion under § 2255, no matter what
title the prisoner plasters on the cover." Id.
(citing Ramunno v. United States, 264 F.3d 723 (7th
Cir. 2001)). In other words, a "motion is a second or
successive [habeas] petition if it in substance or effect
asserts or reasserts a federal basis for relief from the
petitioner's underlying conviction.'" United
States v. McCalister, 453 F.App'x. 776, 778 (10th
Cir. 2011) (alteration in original) (quoting Spitznas v.
Boone, 464 F.3d 1213, 1215 (10th Cir. 2006)).
now argues that he has been denied the ability to seek relief
through § 2255, that his federal prosecution violated
speedy trial provisions, and that he has purported newly
discovered evidence. As the Court has explained ad
nauseam to Pleasant, any attempt to challenge his
federal criminal convictions, no matter the label, will be
dismissed as a successive, unauthorized 28 U.S.C. § 2255
motion. See Melton, 359 F.3d at 857. Accordingly,
the Writ for Relief is properly construed as a successive 28
U.S.C. § 2255 motion. Because the Fourth Circuit has not
authorized this Court to entertain Pleasant's successive
§ 2255 motion, the action will be dismissed for want of
appeal may not be taken from the final order in a § 2255
proceeding unless a judge issues a certificate of
appealability ("COA"). 28 U.S.C. §
2253(c)(1)(B). A COA will not issue unless a prisoner makes
"a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional
right." 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2). This requirement is
satisfied only when "reasonable jurists could debate
whether (or, for that matter, agree that) the petition should
have been resolved in a different manner or that the issues
presented were 'adequate to deserve encouragement to
proceed further.'" Slack v. McDaniel, 529
U.S. 473, 484 (2000) (quoting Barefoot v. Estelle,
463 U.S. 880, 893 & n.4 (1983)). Pleasant fails to satisfy
this standard. Accordingly, a COA will be denied.
Clerk is directed to send a copy of this Memorandum Opinion
to Pleasant ...