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Michael Ratcliffe v. United States of America

November 3, 2011

MICHAEL RATCLIFFE,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dan Aaron Polster United States District Judge

JUDGE DAN AARON POLSTER

MEMORANDUM OF OPINION AND ORDER

Before the Court is Petitioner Michael Ratcliffe's pro se Motion, under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct his Sentence (ECF No. 1). For the reasons to follow, the Motion is DENIED and the case summarily dismissed.

I.

On August 19, 2011, Ratcliffe was convicted pursuant to a written plea agreement of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1349. See Case No. 5:10 CR 470, ECF Nos. 36, 44. Ratcliffe was sentenced to 27 months in prison, the low end of the Guidelines range for offense level 18, Criminal History Category I (27-33 months). ECF No. 44, at 2.

On October 26, 2011, Ratcliffe filed the instant § 2255 Petition, alleging two grounds for relief. First, he argues that he pled guilty without understanding the nature of the charges and the consequences of his plea, in that he was not given sufficient time to review, research, or understand any of the government's evidence against him. Ratcliffe further states he was denied the effective assistance of counsel because his attorney told him he had no defense to the charges and must plead guilty, failed to share with him any of the exculpatory evidence in his favor, and failed to prepare a defense for trial.

II.

Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, a federal district court may grant relief to a prisoner in custody under a sentence imposed by that court "upon the ground that the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, or that the court was without jurisdiction to impose such sentence, or that the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law, or is otherwise subject to collateral attack . . . ." Id. To prevail on a § 2255 claim, the petitioner must show a fundamental defect in the proceedings "which necessarily results in a complete miscarriage of justice or an egregious error violative of due process." Nagi v. United States, 90 F.3d 130, 133--34 (6th Cir. 1996) (quoting Gall v. United States, 21 F.3d 107, 109 (6th Cir. 1994)).

Rule 4(b) of the Rules Governing Section 2255 Proceedings requires the judge to whom the 2555 petition is assigned to promptly make a preliminary examination of the petition, records, and transcripts relating to the judgment under attack. Rule 4(b) provides in pertinent part as follows:

If it plainly appears from the face of the motion and any annexed exhibits and the prior proceedings in the case that the movant is not entitled to relief in the district court, the judge shall make an order for its summary dismissal and cause the movant to be notified.

Otherwise, the judge shall order the United States Attorney to file an answer or other pleading within the period of time fixed by the court or to take such other action as the judge deems appropriate.

Id. The Court has promptly examined the § 2255 Petition, the record in the underlying criminal case, and the case law and finds that it plainly appears that Ratcliffe is not entitled to relief in the district court for the following reasons.

III.

In his first ground for relief, Ratcliffe claims he pled guilty without understanding the nature of the charges and the consequences of his plea. Pursuant to Fed. R. Crim. Proc. 11(b)(1), before the Court accepts a guilty plea the defendant must be placed under oath and the Court must address the defendant in open court to ensure the defendant understands the nature of each charge to which the he is pleading and the consequences of such plea. At the August 19, 2011, "Change of Plea" hearing, the Court placed Ratcliffe under oath and addressed all of the requirements in Rule 11(b)(1). Having carefully ...


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