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Harris v. United States

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division

July 17, 2019

ANTON DURRELL HARRIS, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          THERESA CARROLL BUCHANAN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the Court on Petitioner Anton Durrell Harris' ("Harris") Motion to Stay Statute of Limitations Due to Exigent Circumstances (Dkt. 254) ("Mot. to Stay"). Relatedly, Harris also has filed a Motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody (Dkt. 252) ("Mot. to Vacate") and a Motion to Dismiss or Withdraw Without Prejudice to Refile Motion to Vacate (Dkt. 253) ("Mot. to Withdraw"). On June 11, 2019, the District Judge referred this matter to the undersigned. (Dkt. 256.) On June 20, 2019, the Government filed a Response in Opposition to Harris' Motion to Stay Statute of Limitations (Dkt. 258) ("Gov't Opp'n").

         For the following reasons, the Court finds that Harris' Motion to Stay Statute of Limitations be GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART and that Harris' Motion to Dismiss or Withdraw be held in ABEYANCE.

         I. PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         On May 18, 2017, a federal grand jury returned a forty-one (41) count indictment charging Harris, along with three other individuals, for participating in multiple armed robberies. (Dkt. 18.) Specifically, Harris was charged with seventeen counts, consisting of one (1) count of conspiracy to obstruct commerce by robbery, six (6) counts of obstructing commerce by robbery, six (6) counts of using, carrying, and brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, and four (4) counts of possessing a firearm after having been convicted of a felony. (Id.) Harris initially pleaded not guilty as to all seventeen counts at his arraignment and demanded a jury trial. (Dkt. 28.)

         On January 16, 2018, on the eve of trial, Harris appeared before the District Judge for a change of plea. (Dkt. 146.) Pursuant to a plea agreement with the United States, Harris pleaded guilty to Counts 27 and 28 of the indictment. (Id; Dkt. 147 at 1.) Both counts charged Harris with using, carrying, and brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 924(c) and 2. (Dkt. 147 at 1.)

         On May 31, 2018, Harris again appeared before the District Judge for sentencing. (Dkt. 211.) The District Judge sentenced Harris to 384 months of imprisonment. (Id.) The Court entered Harris' judgment of conviction on that same day. (Dkt. 214.) Harris did not commence a direct appeal of his conviction.

         More than a year later, on June 6, 2019, the Clerk of the Court docketed three separate motions filed by Harris. However, those filings all include different signature dates as well as postmarks.

         First, Harris filed a Motion to Vacate under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 for ineffective assistance of counsel. The motion is signed and dated as of May 1, 2019. (Mot. to Vacate at 9.) While not quite legible, the envelope accompanying the motion appears to have been postmarked on May 2, 2019. (Mot. to Vacate, Ex. 1.)

         Second, Harris filed a Motion to Dismiss or Withdraw Without Prejudice to Refile Motion to Vacate. Harris also signed this motion but did not specifically include a date near his signature line. (Mot. to Withdraw at 3.) Nonetheless, Harris did include a "Certificate of Service" section that states he served the motion upon the Clerk on May 22, 2019 by placing the motion in the possession of a corrections officer. (Id.) The envelope includes a clearly legible postmark of May 24, 2019. (Id., Ex. 1 at 1.) Moreover, this filing also includes a certification from the United States Penitentiary in Pollock, Louisiana ("USP Pollock"), where Harris is currently incarcerated, stating Harris' letter "was processed through special mailing procedures" on May 24, 2019. (Id., Ex. 1 at 2.)

         Third and finally, Harris filed a Motion to Stay Statute of Limitations Due to Exigent Circumstances. Again, the motion includes Harris' signature without a corresponding date but does include a certificate of service stating the motion was served on the Clerk via a corrections officer on May 24, 2019. (Mot. to Stay at 4.) That filing also includes a "Notice of Grounds for Relief Motion Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 for Preservation Purposes," which includes a certificate of service stating Harris served the "Notice of Grounds" on the Clerk via a corrections officer on May 24, 2019. (Id. at 7.) Additionally, the filing contains a separate affidavit and certificate of service. (Id. at 9-10.) On the face of the affidavit, Harris states he served it on May 1, 2019. (Id. at 9.) On the following certificate of service, Harris swears under the penalty of perjury that he served his 2255 motion for ineffective counsel on the Clerk on May 1, 2019. (Id. at 10.) This filing includes a legible postmark of May 28, 2019 and another "special mailing procedures" certificate from USP Pollock stating the letter was processed on May 28, 2019. (Id., Ex. 1.)

         II. ANALYSIS

         With 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f)(1)'s one-year limitation fast approaching, Harris filed a slew of motions with this Court, including a 2255 Motion to Vacate. Harris' 2255 Motion mainly appears to request that the Court "reverse" his conviction on the grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel. (Mot. to Vacate at 1, 9.) Before reaching the merits of Harris' claims, however, the Court must necessarily address the timeliness of Harris' 2255 motion as well as Harris' other motions.

         A. Timeliness of ...


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