United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
E. CONRAD, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Douglas Meadows, Jr., a federal inmate proceeding pro
se, has filed a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct
his sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. The Government
filed a motion to dismiss Meadows' petition. Thereafter,
the Clerk of Court issued Meadows a Roseboro notice
informing him that he had the right, but no obligation, to
submit a response to the Government's motion in further
support of his claims. ECF No. 270. Meadows has not provided
the court with further information. The matter is thus ripe
for consideration. For the reasons stated, the court will
grant the Government's motion to dismiss and deny
January 19, 2017, a federal grand jury issued a multi-count
indictment, charging Meadows and several other defendants
with drug-related crimes. Count One charged Meadows and
others with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute
methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§
841(a)(1), (b)(1)(C) and 846. Counts Two and Four charged
Meadows with distribution and possession with intent to
distribute methamphetamine, respectively, in violation of 21
U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(C). ECF No. 3.
2, 2017, Meadows pled guilty to Count One. ECF No. 127. In
his written plea agreement, Meadows agreed to “waive
any right [he] 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.”
Id. at 8. Meadows stipulated that his offense level
under the United States Sentencing Guidelines should account
for 500 to 1, 500 grams of methamphetamine and possession of
a dangerous weapon. Id. at 3. Meadows further agreed
that, at the time of his plea agreement, he had “no
dissatisfaction or complaint with [his] attorney's
representation, ” and agreed to inform the court of any
such complaint “no later than at the time of
sentencing.” Id. at 11. Pursuant to that
agreement, the Government moved for dismissal of Counts Two
and Four against Meadows. Id. at 2; ECF No. 189.
later appeared before the court for a plea hearing. ECF No.
265, May 2, 2017 Hr'g Tr. (“Plea
Transcript”). During the hearing, the court conducted a
thorough Rule 11 colloquy. See Fed. R. Crim. P. 11.
As part of the plea colloquy, the court questioned Meadows
about his understanding of the plea agreement. Meadows
affirmed that he understood the agreement. Plea Transcript at
7-10. The court specifically inquired whether Meadows was
voluntarily pleading guilty and whether he was satisfied with
his attorney's representation. Id. at 11.
Meadows affirmed that he was satisfied with all the elements
of his attorney's services in his case, including
counsel's work in gathering facts. Id. at 31,
38-39. The court further established that Meadows had spoken
with his attorney about how the United States Sentencing
Guidelines might apply in his case. Id. at 14-15.
Later, Meadows agreed under oath that he was responsible for
between 500 and 1, 500 grams of methamphetamine. Id.
that same hearing, Meadows' counsel relayed that there
had been some points of contention between himself and the
Government while negotiating Meadows' plea agreement.
Id. at 10 (“There were some initially, I
won't say sticking points, but . . . the two-point
enhancement, was added because when there was a search
warrant where some drugs were found, he had his
grandfather's shotgun and groundhog rifle sitting in the
corner. So I guess, under the present standard of the
two-point enhancement, it's a point well taken.”).
The court acknowledged counsel's argument, and noted that
these facts “may be a mitigating factor down the
August 31, 2017, the probation officer assigned to
Meadows' case prepared a presentence investigation report
(the “PSR”). ECF No. 192. The PSR described
Meadows as one of three “street-level dealers” in
the drug conspiracy, alongside two other co-conspirators
described as “mid-level dealers, ” another
defendant who was responsible for obtaining “pound
quantities” of methamphetamine, and one defendant who
“directed large amounts of methamphetamine into
southwest Virginia.” Id. at 6. Meadows entered
the conspiracy after a co-defendant told him that “he
had a lot of methamphetamine and wanted to do
business.” Id. at 8.
also recounted that a search pursuant to a warrant yielded
four firearms located in Meadows' home, along with
baggies, digital scales, methamphetamine, other drugs, and
drug paraphernalia. Id. at 7, 13. The PSR relayed
that Meadows made a Mirandized statement to investigators
after his arrest, in which he admitted to purchasing nearly
1, 400 grams of methamphetamine for distribution, including
over 500 grams in a two-day period. Id. at 7-8. The
PSR computed Meadows' recommended sentence under the
Guidelines using amount of methamphetamine that Meadows had
admitted to, leading to a base offense level of 30.
Id. at 13.
the PSR recommended a net decrease in Meadows' offense
level. After applying a two-level enhancement for the
firearms, U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1(b)(1), the PSR recommended a
3-level reduction for acceptance of responsibility under
U.S.S.G. §§ 3E1.1(a)-(b), resulting in an offense
level of 29. Id. at 14. However, the PSR did not
adjust the offense level based on Meadows' role in the
offense. Id. After finding that Meadows had a
criminal history category of II, the PSR calculated a
recommended Guideline sentence of 97-121 months. Id.
at 15, 18. In addition, the PSR stated that if Meadows had
not received credit for acceptance of responsibility, his
recommended sentence under the Guidelines would have been
135-168 months. Id. at 18.
August 24, 2017, Meadows appeared before the court in a
sentencing hearing. Meadows did not object to the factual
findings or calculations in the PSR, and the court adopted
the PSR. ECF No. 264, Aug. 24, 2017 Hr'g Tr.
(“Sentencing Transcript”) at 4-7. Meadows'
counsel also presented mitigation evidence at the hearing.
For example, counsel questioned Meadows extensively about the
guns found in his residence, asking who the guns belonged to,
where they were located, and what they were used for.
Id. at 13-14. In response to these questions,
Meadows testified that three of the four guns found were used
for hunting-not to “protect” any
methamphetamine-and that the guns belonged to Meadows'
grandfather at one time and Meadows' cousin. Id.
Meadows conceded, however, that a pistol was in the house,
lying on a coffee table, in addition to two rifles and a
court was also made aware that Meadows was not a leader in
the conspiracy. See Sentencing Transcript at 24
(contrasting Meadows to “the people at the top of the
conspiracy”); see also Plea Transcript at 35
(Government proffering that “Mr. Meadows was a fairly
late joiner, an early exiter from this conspiracy”). In
sentencing Meadows, the court concluded that the recommended
sentence under the Guidelines was “way too high.”
Sentencing Transcript at 21. After considering the factors
set forth in 18 ...