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United States v. Williams

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Newport News Division

November 15, 2016




         Robert Williams ("Petitioner") has submitted a Motion pursuant to Title 28, United States Code, Section 2255 to Vacate Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody ("§ 2255 Motion"). Having thoroughly reviewed the Parties' filings in this case, the Court finds this matter is ripe for judicial determination. For the reasons set forth below. Petitioner's § 2255 Motion is DENIED, and Respondent's Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED.


         On October 29, 2007, Criminal Information was filed against Defendant. ECF No. 1. On December 19, 2007, a writ of habeus corpus ad prosequendum was issued for Robert Williams. ECF No. 6. On January 2, 2008, Petitioner, in open court, waived his right to prosecution by indictment and consented that the proceeding may be by information rather than indictment. ECF No. 9. On that same day, Petitioner also entered a plea agreement and pled guilty to Count One and Count Two. ECF No. 10. Count One charged Petitioner with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than fifty grams of cocaine base, in violation of 21 United States Code ("U.S.C.") §§ 846 and 841(a)(1). Id. Count Two charged Petitioner with possession of a firearm during a drug trafficking offense, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). Id. On April 3, 2008, the Court found Petitioner guilty of Counts One and Two, and sentenced him to two hundred and forty months for Count One, and sixty months for Count Two all to be served consecutively. ECF No. 18. Additionally, the sentences imposed for Counts One and Two run concurrently with Petitioner's sentence imposed in Williamsburg Circuit Court. Id.

         On May 16, 2016, Petitioner filed a pro se Motion to Vacate Sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 ("§ 2255"), and requested that his case be reviewed pursuant to Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015). ECF No. 48. On July 14, 2016, the Court Ordered under seal that the Federal Public Defender represent Petitioner in this matter. ECF No. 50.

         On September 6, 2016, Respondent filed a sealed Motion to Dismiss Petitioner's challenge to his sentence under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). ECF No. 53. On September 23, 2016, Petitioner filed a response, through counsel, stating, "after evaluation of the Petitioner's pro se motion pursuant to § 2255 seeking relief under Johnson, undersigned counsel rests on the Petitioner's motion and submits no additional arguments at this time." ECF No. 54.


         When a petitioner in federal custody wishes to collaterally attack his sentence or conviction, the appropriate motion is a § 2255 motion. United States v. Winestock, 340 F.3d 200, 203 (4th Cir. 2003). Section 2255 of Title 28 of the United States Code governs post-conviction relief for federal prisoners. It provides in pertinent part:

A prisoner in custody under sentence of a court established by Act of Congress claiming the right to be released upon the ground that the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, or that the court was without jurisdiction to impose such sentence, or that the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law, or is otherwise subject to collateral attack, may move the court which imposed the sentence to vacate, set aside or correct the sentence.

28 U.S.C. § 2255(a).

         In a proceeding to vacate a judgment of conviction, the petitioner bears the burden of proving his or her claim by a preponderance of the evidence. Miller v. United States, 261 F.2d 546, 547 (4th Cir. 1958). Motions under § 2255 "will not be allowed to do service for an appeal." Sunal v. Large, 332 U.S. 174, 178 (1947). For this reason, issues already fully litigated on direct appeal may not be raised again under the guise of a collateral attack. Boeckenhaupt v. United States, 537 F.2d 1182, 1183 (4th Cir. 1976).

         When deciding a § 2255 motion, the Court must promptly grant a hearing "unless the motion and the files and records of the case conclusively show that the prisoner is entitled to no relief." 28 U.S.C. § 2255(b). Whether a hearing is mandatory for a § 2255 Motion and whether petitioner's presence is required at the hearing is within the district court's sound discretion and is reviewed for abuse of discretion. Raines v. United States, 423 F.2d 526, 529 (4th Cir. 1970) (citing Machibroda v. United States, 368 U.S. 487 (1962)).


         A. 28 U.S.C. ...

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