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Wallace v. United States

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Newport News Division

October 23, 2019



          Raymond A. Jackson, United States District Judge.

         Before the Court is pro se litigant Antonio Renaldo Wallace's ("Petitioner") Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct a Sentence pursuant to Title 28, United States Code, Section 2255 ("2255 Motion"). Having reviewed the motion and filings, the Court finds that a hearing is not necessary to address Petitioner's motion. See 28 U.S.C. § 2255(b). For the reasons set forth below, Petitioner's 2255 Motion is DENIED.


         Petitioner was first named in an indictment on March 15, 2017. ECF No. 1. On April 12, 2017, Petitioner was named in a six-count superseding Indictment charging him with Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute Cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841, 846 (Count 1); Possession with Intent to Distribute Cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841 (Count 5); and Felon in Possession of Firearm and Ammunition, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(1) (Count 6). ECF No. 37. The Indictment alleged that between June 2016 and March 2017, Petitioner was part of a drug distribution ring responsible for more than 500 grams of cocaine. Id. Additionally, the Indictment alleged that on January 31, 2017, Petitioner possessed and intended to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine, and possessed a firearm after being convicted of a felony. Id. On January 13, 2018, Petitioner pled to Count 1 of the superseding Indictment. ECF Nos. 104-107. On May 8, 2018, this Court accepted Petitioner's guilty plea and sentenced him to a term of 162 months of imprisonment. ECF No. 143.

         On February 1, 2019, Petitioner submitted his initial 2255 Motion, which was defective. ECF No. 145. On February 21, 2019, this Court issued an order granting Petitioner 30 days to submit a properly filed 2255 Motion. ECF No. 148. On April 12, 2019 and May 7, 2019, Petitioner wrote the Court to detail his difficulties with filing his 2255 Motion. ECF Nos. 149, 150. On May 20, 2019, Petitioner submitted another defective 2255 Motion. ECF No. 151. On May 23, 2019, this Court issued an order allowing Petitioner 30 more days to resubmit his 2255 Motion. ECF No. 152. On June 10, 2019, Petitioner submitted the instant 2255 Motion. ECF No. 155. On August 8, 2019, the Government submitted a response in opposition to Petitioner's 2255 Motion. ECF No. 159. On September 3, 2019, Petitioner submitted a reply to the Government's response. ECF No. 160.


         A. Section 225S

         Section 2255 allows a federal prisoner "claiming the right to be released upon the ground that the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States . .. [to] move the court which imposed the sentence to vacate, set aside or correct the sentence." 28 U.S.C. § 2255. In a § 2255 motion, the petitioner bears the burden of proving his or her claim by a preponderance of the evidence. See Miller v. United States, 261 F.2d 546, 547 (4th Cir. 1958). Additionally, pro se filers are entitled to more liberal construction of their pleadings. Erickson v. Pardits, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007).

         When deciding a § 2255 motion, the Court must promptly grant a hearing "unless the motion and the files and records of the case conclusively show that the prisoner is entitled to no relief." 28 U.S.C. § 2255(b). Motions under § 2255 generally "will not be allowed to do service for an appeal." Sunal v. Large, 332 U.S. 174, 178-79 (1947). For this reason, issues already fully litigated on direct appeal may not be raised again under the guise of a collateral attack. United Slates v. Dyess, 730 F.3d 354, 360 (4th Cir. 2013). Issues that should have been raised on direct appeal are deemed waived, procedurally defaulted, and cannot be raised on a 2255 Motion. United States v. Mikalajunas, 186 F.3d 490, 492 (4th Cir. 1999). However, an individual may raise a procedurally defaulted claim if he/she can show (1) "cause and actual prejudice resulting from the errors of which he complains" or (2) that "a miscarriage of justice would result from the refusal of the court to entertain the collateral attack. . . . [meaning] the movant must show actual innocence by clear and convincing evidence." Id. at 492-93. To demonstrate cause and prejudice, a petitioner must show the errors "worked to [their] actual and substantial disadvantage, infecting [their] entire trial with error of constitutional dimensions." United States v. Frady, 456 U.S. 152, 170 (1982).

         B. The Commerce Power and 21 U.S.C. § 841

         Congress has the power under the Commerce Clause to regulate purely local activities that are part of an economic class of activities that have a substantial effect on interstate commerce. Wickardv. Filburn, 317 U.S. Ill. 128-29. Congress may regulate local activities if it concludes that failure to regulate that class of activity would undercut the regulation of the interstate market in that commodity. Gonzalez v. Raich, 545 U.S. 1, 18 (2005). Further, the Supreme Court's rulings in United States v. Lopez, 514 U.S. 549 (1995) and United States v. Morrison, 529 U.S. 598 (2000) regarding noneconomic activities beyond the scope of the Commerce Power do not limit congressional authority to regulate local drug manufacturing, possession, and distribution. Id. In sum, congressional regulation of local economic activities through the Controlled Substances Act and 21 U.S.C. § 841 are a valid exercise of the Commerce Power. Id.

         C. Grand Jury Errors

         Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 12 provides that an error in the grand jury proceeding must be raised by pretrial motion if the basis for the motion is then reasonably available and the motion can be determined without a trial on the merits. Fed. R. Crim. P. 12(b)(3)(A).

         D. Ineffective ...

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