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Jones v. United States

United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division

November 21, 2016




         This matter comes before the Court on Movant Vincent Jones's motion to vacate, set aside or correct sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (ECF No. 1) and motion to amend or correct (ECF No. 14). On September 9, 2016, the Government filed a response in opposition. (ECF No. 8.) With his motion to amend, Movant included an amended petition. The Court has reviewed the merits of his amended claims. For the reasons that follow, Movant's motion to amend is granted, and his amended § 2255 motion is denied.


         On August 20, 2013, Movant pleaded guilty to felon in possession of a firearm under 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1), 921(a), and 924(a)(2), and possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A)(i). This Court sentenced Movant to 152 months. The Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit denied Movant's challenge to his sentence and conviction. United States v. Vincent Jones, 620 F. App'x 434, 442 (6th Cir. 2015). Subsequently, Movant filed this motion to vacate, set aside or correct sentence raising claims of ineffective assistance of trial counsel, involuntary plea, and improper sentence enhancement based on Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015). He filed an amended § 2255 motion raising additional claims for warrantless arrest and surveillance in violation of the Fourth Amendment, improper guidelines sentence under § 1B1.10(d) amendments 599 and 782, and ineffective assistance of appellate counsel. Movant also requested an evidentiary hearing, under Rule 8 of § 2255, and court-appointed counsel.


         A prisoner who moves to vacate his sentence under § 2255 must show that the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, that the court was without jurisdiction to impose such a sentence, that the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law, or that it is otherwise subject to collateral attack. 28 U.S.C. § 2255. To prevail on a § 2255 motion “‘a petitioner must demonstrate the existence of an error of constitutional magnitude which had a substantial and injurious effect or influence on the guilty plea or the jury's verdict.'” Humphress v. United States, 398 F.3d 855, 858 (6th Cir. 2005) (quoting Griffin v. United States, 330 F.3d 733, 736 (6th Cir. 2003)).

         Non-constitutional errors are generally outside the scope of § 2255 relief. United States v. Cofield, 233 F.3d 405, 407 (6th Cir. 2000). A petitioner can prevail on a § 2255 motion alleging non-constitutional error only by establishing a “fundamental defect which inherently results in a complete miscarriage of justice, or, an error so egregious that it amounts to a violation of due process.” Watson v. United States, 165 F.3d 486, 488 (6th Cir. 1999) (quoting United States v. Ferguson, 918 F.2d 627, 630 (6th Cir. 1990) (internal quotations omitted)).

         As a general rule, claims not raised on direct appeal are procedurally defaulted and may not be raised on collateral review unless the petitioner shows either (1) “cause” and “actual prejudice” or (2) “actual innocence.” Massaro v. United States, 538 U.S. 500, 504 (2003); Bousley v. United States, 523 U.S. 614, 621-22 (1998); United States v. Frady, 456 U.S. 152, 167-68 (1982). An ineffective assistance of counsel claim, however, is not subject to the procedural default rule. Massaro, 538 U.S. at 504. An ineffective assistance of counsel claim may be raised in a collateral proceeding under § 2255, whether or not the petitioner could have raised the claim on direct appeal. Id.


         The Government contends that Movant's section 2255 motion must be denied because, as part of his plea agreement, Movant waived the right to collaterally attack his sentence. The Court agrees as to Movant's claims that do not relate to the voluntariness of waiver and whether the waiver was the product of ineffective assistance of counsel.

         A movant “may waive any right, even a constitutional right, by means of a plea agreement.” United States v. Fleming, 239 F.3d 761, 763-64 (6th Cir. 2001). The Sixth Circuit “enforce[s] such waivers according to their terms, so long as the defendant entered into the plea agreement knowingly and voluntarily.” Hardin v. United States, 595 F. App'x 460, 461 (6th Cir. 2014). “[A] defendant who knowingly and voluntarily agreed not to contest his sentence in any post-conviction proceeding waived the right to argue in a § 2255 motion that his counsel provided ineffective assistance at sentencing.” Id. at 462 (citing Davila v. United States, 258 F.3d 448, 451 (6th Cir. 2001)).

         Based on Movant's statements under oath, the Court finds that Movant's plea was knowing and voluntary. At his plea hearing, the following exchanges occurred:

THE COURT: And is there anything medically or physically that would keep you in any way from being able to understand and ...

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