United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Norfolk Division
OPINION & ORDER
COKE MORGAN, JR. SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter came before the Court on Petitioner Joshua Lee
Christopher's ("Petitioner's") Motion Under
28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct
Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody ("§ 2255
Motion"), Docs. 48, 64, 69, and the United States of
America's (the "Government's") Motion to
Dismiss Defendant's §2255 Motion ("Motion to
Dismiss"), Doc. 73. The Court GRANTED an evidentiary
hearing on part of Petitioner's § 2255 Motion, made
findings on the record, and DENIED Petitioner's §
2255 Motion. This Opinion & Order addresses both the
findings at the evidentiary hearing and the Court's
reasons for DENYING the remainder of the § 2255 Motion.
March 18, 2014, the Government filed a criminal information
charging Petitioner with one (1) count of Conspiracy to
Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Fifty (50)
Grams or More of Methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C.
§ 846. Doc. 27. Petitioner pled guilty to the offense on
March 19, 2014. Doc. 30. On July 7, 2014, this Court
sentenced Petitioner to two hundred forty (240) months
imprisonment. Doc. 40.
24, 2015, Petitioner filed a notice of appeal. Doc. 44. He
subsequently filed the instant § 2255 Motion on July 9,
2015. Doc. 48. On November 17, 2015, the Fourth Circuit
granted the Government's Motion to Dismiss the appeal
"based on the waiver in the plea agreement and because
the notice of appeal was not timely filed." Doc. 60. On
November 19, 2015, this Court issued a Notice & Order
advising Petitioner that he had thirty (30) days to submit a
memorandum of law in support of the instant § 2255
Motion. Doc. 62. On December 9, 2015, the Fourth Circuit
issued its mandate regarding Petitioner's appeal. Doc.
filed a memorandum in support of the instant § 2255
Motion on December 21, 2015. Doc. 64. He also filed a Motion
to Appoint Counsel, Doc. 65, which the Court DENIED, Doc. 66.
On January 6, 2016, this Court ORDERED the Government to
respond to the instant § 2255 Motion. Doc. 67. The
Government filed its opposition on March 3, 2016. Doc. 68. On
June 10, 2016, Petitioner sent a letter motion to the Court,
Doc. 69, which the Court CONSTRUED on June 21, 2016, as an
addendum to the instant § 2255 Motion, see Doc. 70. On
August 22, 2016, the Government sought a stay pending the
Supreme Court's decision in Beckles v. United
States regarding whether the Guidelines are subject to
vagueness challenges. Doc. 71. On December 13, 2016, this
Court GRANTED the stay. Doc. 72. On March 27, 2017, after the
Supreme Court decided Beckles, the Government filed
a Motion to Dismiss the instant § 2255 Motion. Doc. 73.
On May 2, 2017, the Court FOUND that an evidentiary hearing
is necessary on ineffective assistance of counsel and
appointed counsel for Petitioner pending the evidentiary
hearing. Doc. 75.
2255 is designed to correct fundamental constitutional or
jurisdictional errors, which would otherwise "inherently
result in a complete miscarriage of justice."
United States v. Addonizio, 422 U.S. 178, 185
(1979). In order to move the Court to vacate, set aside or
correct a sentence under § 2255, a petitioner must prove
that one of the following occurred: (1) that his 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; (3) that the sentence was in excess
of the maximum authorized by law; or (4) that the sentence is
otherwise subject to collateral attack. 28 U.S.C. §
2255(a). A petitioner bears the burden of proving his grounds
for collateral review of his sentence by a preponderance of
the evidence. Jacobs v. United States, 350 F.2d 571, 574 (4th
Cir. 1965); Hall v. United States. 30 F.Supp.2d 883,
889 (E.D. Va. 1998). "Generally, an evidentiary hearing
is required under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 unless it is clear
from the pleadings, files, and records that a movant is not
entitled to relief." United States v.
Witherspoon. 231 F.3d 923, 925-26 (4th Cir. 2000);
see also 28 U.S.C. § 2255(b).
prisoner must file a § 2255 motion within a one (1) year
period of limitation, which runs from the latest of:
(1) the date on which the judgment of conviction becomes
(2) the date on which 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
(3) the date on which 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 date on which the facts supporting the claim or
claims presented could have been discovered through the