Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. James

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division

January 31, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
SHARON MARIE JAMES, Petitioner.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Michael F. Urbanski, United States District Judge.

         Petitioner Sharon James, a federal inmate currently serving a 48 month sentence for drug offenses, has filed a Motion to Vacate, Set Aside or Correct Sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. ECF No. 273. On October 25, 2016, the United States submitted a Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 282, to which James has not responded. For the reasons set forth below, the court GRANTS the government's Motion to Dismiss.

         I.

         On September 2, 2014, James pled guilty to three drug-related counts pursuant to a written plea agreement.[1] ECF Nos. 129-32. The charges arose out of a conspiracy in which James and five co-defendants trafficked heroin and cocaine into southwest Virginia. The Presentence Investigation Report ("PSR") recommended that James receive a total offense level of 29 points under the 2014 United States Sentencing Guidelines.[2] PSR, ECF No. 206, ¶ 54. The 29 point calculation included a two-point enhancement pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1(b)(1) (hereinafter the "gun enhancement") for possession of a dangerous weapon during the course of James' criminal conduct. PSR ¶ 46. Based on a total offense level of 29 and a criminal history category of I, the PSR concluded that James was subject to a guideline imprisonment range of 87 to 108 months. PSR ¶ 80. Nevertheless, in light of James' cooperation with investigators, the government filed a Motion for Substantial Assistance (ECF No. 197) pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 5K1.1 and recommended a period of incarceration of 48 months. Government's Sentencing Memorandum, ECF No. 198, at 8.

         At the sentencing hearing held on February 23, 2015, James objected to the two-point gun enhancement included in the PSR, arguing that the firearms providing the basis for the enhancement did not belong to her; rather, a co-conspirator controlled and possessed the firearms. James' Sentencing Memorandum, ECF No. 182, at 6-7. James asserted that without the gun enhancement the proper punishment range under the guidelines was 57 to 71 months. James' Sentencing Memorandum at 8. This lower range, James argued, should have served as the starting point for the government's Motion for Substantial Assistance and that a more appropriate sentence was a period of incarceration of no more than one year and one day. James' Sentencing Memorandum at 14.

         The court heard testimony from James and from Sami Cilek, the United States Probation Officer who authored the PSR. The court overruled James' objection to the two-point gun enhancement, finding the evidence sufficient for the enhancement. The court found James' total offense level to be 29 and that the guideline imprisonment range was 87 to 108 months. However, the court granted the government's Motion for Substantial Assistance and sentenced James to 48 months of incarceration and three years of supervised release.

         James now asks the court to resentence her without application of the two-point gun enhancement. James proceeds pro se, and therefore the court construes her motion liberally. See Boag v. MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364, 365 (1982). The court gleans from the motion that James raises three arguments in' support of resentencing without the gun enhancement: (1) the record shows it was "clearly improbable that the weapon[s were] connected with the offense, " and therefore should not have been considered under the guidelines, U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1, comment, (n.11); (2) that the possession of the firearms should have been charged in the indictment and proven by a jury; and (3) that the Supreme Court's holding in Johnson v. United States. 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015) provides James relief. As outlined below, James' arguments fail on procedural and substantive grounds.

         II.

         To state a viable claim for relief under § 2255, a petitioner must prove: (1) that her sentence was "imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States;" (2) that "the court was without jurisdiction to impose such a sentence;" or (3) that "the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law, or is otherwise subject to collateral attack." 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). If a petition alleges a sentencing error that is neither constitutional nor jurisdictional, "a district court lacks authority to review it unless it amounts to a fundamental defect which inherently results in a complete miscarriage of justice." United States v. Foote. 784 F.3d 931, 936 (4th Cir.) (quoting Davis v. United States. 417 U.S. 333, 346). James bears the burden of proving grounds for a collateral attack. Jacobs v. United States. 350 F.2d 571, 574 (4th Cir. 1965).

         A. A petition under § 2255 must adhere to strict statute of limitations requirements. Specifically, a petitioner must file a § 2255 motion within one year of the latest date on which:

(1) the judgment of conviction becomes final;
(2) the impediment to making a motion created by governmental action in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States is removed, if the movant was prevented from making a motion by such governmental action;
(3) the right asserted was initially recognized by the Supreme Court, if that right has been newly recognized by the Supreme Court and made retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review; or
(4) the facts supporting the claim or claims presented could have been discovered through the ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.