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Nelson v. United States

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

October 19, 2017

Samuel Nelson, Movant,
v.
United States of America, Respondent.

          ORDER DENYING MOVANT'S MOTION TO VACATE, SET ASIDE, OR CORRECT SENTENCE [92]; AND DENYING AS MOOT RESPONDENT'S MOTION FOR EXTENSION OF TIME TO FILE [103]

          Arthur J. Tarnow Senior United States District Judge

         On November 9, 2015, Movant Samuel Nelson filed a Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence [Dkt. #92] pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. On April 8, 2016, the Government filed its Response [104]. On May 13, 2016, Movant filed a Reply [105]. For the reasons stated below, the Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence [92] is DENIED and a Certificate of Appealability is DENIED.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         On appeal from Movant's conviction, the Sixth Circuit summarized the background of this case as follows:

In January 2011, pursuant to a warrant, the police searched Nelson's residence and discovered nine firearms, ammunition, body armor, seventeen marijuana plants, dried marijuana, and nine digital scales. Nelson was later charged in a six-count indictment with various drug and firearm offenses as the result of the search. He was arrested in September 2011, after a traffic stop. At the time of his arrest, Nelson was found to be in possession of marijuana and a firearm.
In March 2012, Nelson pleaded guilty to all six counts of the indictment, without the benefit of a plea agreement. In July 2012, Nelson moved to withdraw his guilty plea, and the district court granted the motion. Following the withdrawal of his guilty plea, the government filed a superseding indictment, adding three counts based on Nelson's September 2011 arrest.
The parties eventually entered into a plea agreement whereby Nelson agreed to plead guilty to two counts of the superseding indictment: felon in possession of a firearm (Count 8), in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g); and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime (Count 9), in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). The agreement provided that the remaining counts would be dismissed; the results of the January 2011 search of Nelson's residence would be considered relevant conduct for the purposes of sentencing; and Nelson would waive his right to appeal his conviction or sentence unless it exceeded the maximum guidelines range agreed to by the parties.
The agreement provided that Nelson's guidelines range of imprisonment would be 168 to 195 months based upon a total offense level of 29 and a criminal history category of III, which resulted in a guidelines range of imprisonment of 108 to 135 months for Count 8 and a mandatory minimum consecutive 60-month term of imprisonment for Count 9.
Following a plea hearing, the district court accepted Nelson's pleas. At the time Nelson signed his plea agreement, the Supreme Court was considering the case of Florida v. Jardines, 133 S.Ct. 1409 (2013), which involved the search of a residence based on an alert from a drug-sniffing dog. Because Nelson believed that the outcome of the case provided him with an argument that the January 2011 search of his residence was unconstitutional, he filed a motion for new counsel, asserting that counsel had misinformed him that his January 2011 offenses would not be considered relevant conduct because of Jardines.
Nelson also claimed that he did not understand why he was guilty of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Following a hearing, the district court denied the motion.
A presentence report calculated Nelson's total offense level as 29 and his criminal history category as III, resulting in a guidelines range of 108 to 135 months. Because the statutorily authorized maximum sentence of 120 months was less than the maximum of the applicable guideline range, however, the guidelines range became 108 to 120 months. USSG § 5G1.2(b). The report noted that a 60-month consecutive term was required for Count 9.
The district court ultimately sentenced Nelson to a 60-month term of imprisonment for Count 8 and the mandatory consecutive 60-month term of imprisonment for Count 9, for a total term of 120 months. The court imposed a 36-month term of supervised release on each count, to be served concurrently.

United States v. Samuel Nelson, No. 13-2278, (6th Cir. Oct. 8, ...


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