United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Northern Division
ORDER DENYING MOTION TO VACATE SENTENCE
L. LUDINGTON United States District Judge
Honorable Thomas L. Ludington On December 3, 2013, Petitioner
Steven Yuker pleaded guilty to distributing cocaine base. ECF
No. 29. He was sentenced to 90 months of imprisonment, and
judgment was entered on March 25, 2014. ECF No. 33. He did
not appeal. On June 6, 2017, Yuker filed a motion to vacate
his sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Yuker argues that
his plea was unintelligent and involuntary because he pled
guilty to an act which was not criminal behavior under the
law, citing McFadden v. United States, 135 S.Ct.
2298 (2015) and Burrage v. United States, 134 S.Ct.
881 (2014). The Court then directed Yuker to explain why his
motion was timely, noting that both McFadden and
Burrage had been decided over a year ago and thus
were outside the limitations period of 28 U.S.C. §
2255(f). ECF No. 41.
response, Yuker argues that his motion is timely because the
“savings clause” of § 2255(e) applies. ECF
No. 42 at 2. That section states, in full:
An application for a writ of habeas corpus in behalf of a
prisoner who is authorized to apply for relief by motion
pursuant to this section, shall not be entertained if it
appears that the applicant has failed to apply for relief, by
motion, to the court which sentenced him, or that such court
has denied him relief, unless it also appears that the remedy
by motion is inadequate or ineffective to test the legality
of his detention.
asserts that he “is not collaterally challenging his
sentence, but is Challenging [sic] the illegality of his
detention, which § 2255 is inadequate and ineffective to
test.” ECF No. 42 at 3.
also cites Bousley v. United States for the
proposition that, because he is actually innocent of the
crime he was convicted of, a fundamental miscarriage of
justice has occurred and his claim should not be time-barred.
523 U.S. 614, 620 (1998). Bousley involved a §
2255 challenge to a sentence where, like Yuker, the
petitioner asserted that he was actually innocent of the
crime which he had pleaded guilty to. Id. at 621.
The Supreme Court found that, if the petitioner made a
showing of actual innocence, the merits of his claim could be
reached, despite his procedural default. Id. at
true that a “convincing actual innocence claim”
can overcome the § 2255(f) time limitations.
McQuiggin v. Perkins, 133 S.Ct. 1924, 1931 (2013).
But “‘actual innocence' means factual
innocence, not mere legal insufficiency.”
Bousley, 523 U.S. at 623. And, more importantly, an
actual innocence claim merits review despite untimeliness
only when “a petition presents ‘evidence of
innocence so strong that a court cannot have confidence in
the outcome of the trial unless the court is also satisfied
that the trial was free of nonharmless constitutional
error.'” McQuiggan, 133 S.Ct. at 1936 (quoting
Schlup v. Delo, 513 U.S. 298, 316 (1995)).
does not contend that he is factually innocent. Rather, he
relies on McFadden and Burrage for the
proposition that he misunderstood the elements of the offense
(as articulated by those cases) when he pleaded guilty.
See Mot. Vacate at 5, ECF No. 38. In other words,
Yuker contends that, after McFadden and
Burrage, the Government's case against him was
sufficiently weakened that he would have proceeded to trial.
Yuker's motion to vacate is notable for its lack of any
facts (or even contention) indicating that Yuker was, in
fact, actually innocent of the crime. Even broadly construed,
Yuker's motion is asserting a legal insufficiency
argument. He has presented no evidence of actual innocence,
much less evidence sufficient to shake the Court's
confidence in the legitimacy of his conviction. As discussed
above, that is insufficient to justify untimely review of the
motion. Yuker's motions will be denied.
Petitioner may appeal the Court's decision, a certificate
of appealability must be issued. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 2253(c)(1)(a); Fed. R. App. P. 22(b). A certificate of
appealability may be issued “only if the applicant has
made a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional
right.” 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2). When a court
denies relief on the merits, the substantial showing
threshold is met if the petitioner demonstrates that
reasonable jurists would find the court's assessment of
the constitutional claim debatable or wrong. Slack v.
McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484-85 (2000). When a court
denies relief on procedural grounds without addressing the
merits, a certificate of appealability should be issued if it
is shown that jurists of reason would find it debatable
whether the petitioner states a valid claim of the denial of
a constitutional right and that jurists of reason would find
it debatable whether the court was correct in its procedural
considered the matter, the Court concludes that reasonable
jurists would not dispute whether Petitioner's motion to
vacate was time-barred. Accordingly, a certificate of
appealability is not warranted in this case. The Court
further concludes that Petitioner should not be granted leave
to proceed in ...