United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Newport News Division
OPINION AND ORDER
S. DAVIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on a Motion to Vacate, Set Aside,
or Correct Sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, filed
by Elaine White ("Petitioner"). ECF No. 100.
Petitioner's § 2255 motion advances three claims
alleging that defense counsel provided constitutionally
ineffective assistance, and one claim alleging that
Petitioner was denied due process because her guilty plea was
not knowing and voluntary. Id. Also before the Court
are two related § 2255 supplements filed by Petitioner.
ECF Nos. 108, 109. For the reasons set forth below,
Petitioner's § 2255 motion, and related supplements,
are DISMISSED as untimely.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
October 7, 2013, Petitioner pled guilty, pursuant to a
written plea agreement, to "Conspiracy to Launder
Monetary Instruments/7 in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
1956(h) and § 1957. ECF No. 61. On January 16, 2014,
Petitioner was sentenced to sixty-six months imprisonment.
ECF No. 83. Petitioner did not appeal her conviction or
sentence to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth
December 21, 2015, Petitioner filed the instant § 2255
motion. ECF No. 100. The Government filed a brief
in opposition on February 18, 2016. ECF No. 104. Before her
§ 2255 motion was fully briefed, Petitioner filed a
motion seeking a "sentence reduction pursuant to 8
U.S.C. § 1228(a), " which also invoked 18 U.S.C.
§ 3582, and "5H1.1 specific offender
characteristics (age)." ECF No. 105. On May 31, 2016,
this Court denied Petitioner's motion for a sentence
reduction. ECF No. 106.
this Court issued a ruling on Petitioner's § 2255
motion, on October 3, 2016, Petitioner filed another document
labeled as a § 2255 motion. ECF No. 108. Approximately
six weeks later, she filed a "Motion in Affidavit,
" which again references 28 U.S.C. § 2255 and
advances a challenge to "the Federal Government's
Jurisdiction upon her personal being." ECF No. 109, at
1. In light of such filings, this Court issued an Order
instructing the Government to file a supplemental response.
ECF No. 110. On December 20, 2016, the Government filed a
responsive brief asserting that both of Petitioner's
supplemental § 2255 filings are untimely and lack merit.
ECF No. 111. Petitioner filed a reply brief on January 17,
2017. ECF No. 112. Accordingly, Petitioner's § 2255
motion, and associated supplements, are fully briefed and
ripe for review.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
federal prisoner may collaterally attack his sentence or
conviction by moving the district court "to vacate, set
aside or correct the sentence." 28 U.S.C. §
2255(a). To obtain such relief, a petitioner bears the burden
of proving that his sentence or conviction was "imposed
in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United
States, " that the district court "was without
jurisdiction to impose such sentence, " that the
sentence exceeds "the maximum authorized by law, "
or that the sentence or conviction is "otherwise subject
to collateral attack." Id. A petitioner must
prove the asserted grounds for relief by a preponderance of
the evidence. Miller v. United States, 261 F.2d 546,
547 (4th Cir. 1958).
§ 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. United States v.
Hadden, 475 F.3d 652, 663 (4th Cir. 2007) . The
existence of the right to pursue a collateral attack 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) . To the
contrary, with limited exceptions, a petitioner advancing new
claims asserted for the first time in a § 2255 motion
"must clear a significantly higher hurdle than would
exist on direct appeal." United States v.
Frady, 456 U.S. 152, 166 (1982).
and the President have established a one-year limitations
period within which a petitioner must file a § 2255
motion. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f). The one-year limitations
period begins running on the latest of four dates:
the "date on which the judgment of conviction becomes
final, " the date on which certain government-created
impediments to filing are removed, the date on which a new
right has been recognized by the Supreme Court and made
retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review, or
the date on which previously undiscoverable facts supporting
the claim could be discovered. Id.
original § 2255 motion, filed on December 21, 2015,
advanced three ineffective assistance claims and one due
process claim, and her supplemental filings appear to advance
a Guidelines challenge asserting that she should have
received a "minor role" adjustment at sentencing
and a challenge questioning the federal government's
jurisdiction over her "personal being." In
response, the Government contends that: (1) Petitioner's
original § 2255 motion is untimely, as are her
later-in-time supplements; and (2) Petitioner's
supplemental filings do not "relate back" to
Petitioner's initial (untimely) § 2255 motion
because they advance new claims. Importantly,
Petitioner's various motions and briefs filed in this
case fail to cite to any case law, statute, or any other
authority, that would excuse her compliance with the
limitations period set forth in § 2255(f).
argued by the Government, Petitioner had one year to file a
timely § 2255 motion from the latest of the four dates
set forth in § 2255(f). Because Petitioner fails to
assert that a government-created impediment prevented her
from filing a timely § 2255 motion, and her theories of
relief do not rely on new facts that were not previously
discoverable or newly decided Supreme Court cases made
retroactive to cases on collateral review, the one-year
limitation period began to run on "the date on which the
judgment of conviction bee[a]me final." 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255(f)(1). Petitioner's criminal judgment was
entered on the public docket on January 17, 2014, and her
conviction became final fourteen days later when
Petitioner's direct appeal period expired. See United
States v. Osborne, 452 F.App'x 294, 295 (4th Cir.
2011) (explaining that a conviction becomes "final"
for § 2255(f)(1) purposes at the "expiration of the
time for seeking [a direct appeal]" and that the appeal
period in a criminal case extends "fourteen days from
the date when judgment was 'entered on the criminal
docket7" (citations omitted)) . Petitioner, however, did
not file her initial § 2255 motion until December 21,
2015, more than 22 months after her conviction became final.
Petitioner's § 2255 supplements were filed many
months later. Having offered no valid basis to excuse the
timing of such late submissions,  for the reasons discussed in
greater detail in the Government's briefs,
Petitioner's initial § 2255 motion, and her two
related supplements, are DISMISSED as untimely.