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States v. Waller

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

September 12, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
JAMES WILLIE WALLER, JR., Petitioner.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          JACKSON L. KISER, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on Petitioner James Willie Waller, Jr.'s (“Petitioner”) Motion Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody (hereinafter “§ 2255 Motion”) [ECF No. 86], as well as the government's Motion to Dismiss Petitioner's § 2255 motion [ECF No. 90]. After briefing by the parties, I reviewed the record, the evidence, and the argument of the parties. For the reasons stated herein, I will grant the government's motion and dismiss Petitioner's § 2255 motion to vacate his sentence.

         I. STATEMENT OF FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Petitioner was indicted in a 24-count indictment on November 14, 2016. [ECF No. 3.] On September 6, 2017, Petitioner exercised his constitutional right to a trial by jury. Midway through the government's first witness, however, Petitioner decided to enter a plea agreement with the government, pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1)(C), and plead guilty to Counts 7, 10, 12, and 22 of the Indictment. (See Plea Agreement § A.1 [ECF No. 48].) That agreement stated, specifically:

I [Petitioner] waive any right I may have to collaterally attack, in any future proceeding, any order issued in this matter, unless such attack is based on ineffective assistance of counsel, and agree I will not file any document which seeks to disturb any such order, unless such filing is based on ineffective assistance of counsel. I agree and understand that if I file any court document (except for an appeal based on an issue not otherwise waived in this agreement; an appeal based on an issue that cannot be waived, by law; or a collateral attack based on ineffective assistance of counsel) seeking to disturb, in any way, any order imposed in my case, such action shall constitute a failure to comply with a provision of this agreement.

(Id § D.1.2 (emphasis in original.)

         Following a recess in which Petitioner, his counsel, and the government counsel conferred and finalized Petitioner's plea agreement, I placed Petitioner under oath and inquired of his desire to change his plea, as well as his understanding of his agreement with the government. (See Transcript 71:24-87:12, Sept. 6, 2017 [ECF No. 75].) Specifically, we had the following exchange:

THE COURT: Then the next paragraph, waiver or right to collaterally attack. Do you understand what a collateral attack is?
(Counsel conferred with the defendant.)
THE DEFENDANT: Yes, sir.
THE COURT: And you've given up that right, which means, Mr. Waller, that this court is the end of the line for you. You have nowhere to turn if you're dissatisfied with what's happened here.
Do you understand that? Yes?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes, sir.

(Tr. 85:23-86:8 [ECF No. 75].) Petitioner also signed the Guilty Plea form, indicating that his plea was “made knowingly and voluntarily and without threat of any kind or without promises other than ...


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