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Thompson v. Terris

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

June 30, 2017

J.A. TERRIS, Respondent,


          STEPHEN J. MURPHY, III United States District Judge.

         Petitioner William H. Thompson, Jr., a federal prisoner confined at the Federal Correctional Institution in Milan, Michigan, seeks habeas corpus relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Thompson challenges his sentence as a career offender under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1. For the reasons stated below, the Court will deny the petition.


         Thompson pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute 90 grams of cocaine base, 18 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1), in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota. The Court recites the relevant facts from the opinion and order denying Thompson's motion to vacate sentence:

Thompson first pled guilty on February 28, 2003. At that time, Thompson and the Government stipulated to an adjusted base offense level of 31, which represented a base level of 32, plus 2 offense levels for the presence of a firearm, minus 3 levels for acceptance of responsibility. (Plea Agree. ¶¶ 6-11.) At that time, the parties contemplated a criminal history category of III, but stipulated that "if the defendant's Criminal History Category, as finally computed with the aid of the PreSentence Report, is greater than Category III, the parties may not withdraw from the agreement and agree that the defendant shall be sentenced in accordance with the applicable Sentencing Guidelines." (Id. ¶ 10.) Assuming an adjusted offense level of 31 and criminal history category III, the resulting Guideline range was 135-168 months. (Id. ¶ 11.) In addition, the Government agreed to "refrain from filing a sentencing enhancement motion . . . based on the defendant's previous felony narcotics conviction." (Id. ¶ 5.) If Thompson agreed to provide substantial assistance to the Government in its investigation of drug trafficking and other criminal activity, the Government also agreed to file a motion for a downward departure pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 5K1.1 and 18 U.S.C. § 3553(e). (Id. ¶¶ 4-5.) Thompson was released on bond pending sentencing so he could assist the Government with its investigations. (Tr. Feb. 28, 2003 Hr'g at 19-20.)
After accepting Thompson's plea, the Court ordered the Probation Office to conduct a presentence investigation. Probation issued its report ("PSI") on June 18, 2003. According to the PSI, Thompson was a career offender based upon three prior convictions for drug trafficking and violent crimes. (June 18, 2003 PSI ¶ 21.) Thompson's status as a career offender and his criminal history changed the Guideline range applicable to his sentencing. Specifically, Thompson's criminal history category was increased to VI, and his total offense level was increased to 34, resulting in an applicable Guideline range from 262 to 327 months. (Id. ¶ 105.)
On September 8, 2003, a warrant was issued for Thompson's arrest because he failed to report and absconded from justice. Thompson was finally arrested in Detroit on April 1, 2004. Prior to absconding, Thompson was charged with a new state crimes-trespassing and driving after cancellation. (April 30, 2004 Revised PSI ¶ 2.)
Based on these actions, Probation issued a revised PSI and recommended a two level enhancement for obstruction of justice under U.S.S.G. § 3E1.1, and no downward adjustment for acceptance of responsibility since Thompson engaged in obstructive behavior while on bond. (Id. ¶¶ 18-20.) According the revised PSI, Thompson's new offense level was 37, with a criminal history category of VI, resulting in a revised Guideline imprisonment range of 360 months to life. (Id. ¶ 106.)
On May 13, 2004, Thompson appeared before this Court on his motion to withdraw his guilty plea. At that hearing, the Government indicated that it had no objection to Thompson withdrawing his plea, but cautioned Thompson that he could get an even longer sentence, 360 months to life, if found guilty by a jury. (Tr. May 13, 2004 Hr'g at 4-5.) The Government indicated that if Thompson pled guilty, the Government would not insist on adding offense level points for obstruction, and would not object to allowing Thompson to receive a deduction for accepting responsibility. (Id. at 3, 7.) The Court, Thompson's counsel ("Counsel"), and the Government's counsel engaged in a colloquy wherein they informed Thompson that if he was found guilty by a jury, the Court would be bound to sentence him in the 360 months to life range, and he would not be allowed to accept responsibility. (Id. at 2-10.) Counsel was concerned that Thompson was "hesitant" regarding his plea withdrawal, and the Court continued the hearing for over two weeks to give Thompson time to fully consider his decision. (Id. at 8-10.)
B. Thompson's Sentencing
On May 28, 2004, Thompson informed the Court that he did not want to withdraw his guilty plea. (Tr. May 28, 2004 Hr'g at 2.) The Court proceeded immediately to sentencing, and Counsel requested that the Court not add an obstruction of justice enhancement on the ground that Thompson's absconding did not actually hurt the case because Thompson had already pled guilty. (Id. at 3.) Counsel also asked the Court to give Thompson a reduction for acceptance of responsibility, and requested that Thompson be given the minimum sentence under the Guidelines. (Id.) The Government did not object to these requests. (Id. at 4.)
After allowing both Thompson and Counsel to make statements on Thompson's behalf, the Court granted Counsel's request and gave Thompson a 3 level decrease for acceptance of responsibility, and declined to assign an enhancement based on obstruction of justice. The Court then sentenced Thompson to the minimum sentence under the Guidelines: 262 months followed by five years supervised release. (Id. at 8.)

United States v. Thompson, No. CIV 05813MJD, 2005 WL 1923733, at *1-2 (D. Minn. Aug. 11, 2005).

         Thompson did not file a direct appeal from his conviction. He did, however, file a motion to vacate sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, which was denied. Id. at *3-6. Also, Thompson filed two additional motions for reduction of sentence, which were likewise denied. See United States v. Thompson, Crim. No. 02-308(MJD/JGL), 2010 WL 2545407 (D. Minn. June 18, 2010). Thompson has twice been denied permission by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit to file a successive motion to vacate sentence. Thompson v. United States, No. 15-3219 ...

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