United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
CHRISTOPHER D. STANLEY, Pro Se, Petitioner
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent
ORDER ON § 2255 PETITION
SOLOMON OLIVER, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
pending before the court in the above-captioned case is Pro
Se Petitioner Christopher D. Stanley's
(“Petitioner” or “Stanley”) Motion to
Vacate under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (“§ 2255
Petition”) (ECF No. 1 in No. 5:19 CV 609; ECF No. 27 in
No. 5:17 CR 368).For the following reasons, the court denies
Stanley's § 2255 Petition.
September 13, 2017, a federal grand jury returned an
Indictment against Petitioner, charging him with the
following nine counts: (1) distribution of
4-Methyl-N-Ethylcathinone (“4-MEC”), a controlled
substance analogue, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§
841(a)(1), (b)(1)(C); (2) distribution of 4-MEC, a controlled
substance analogue, in violation of 21 U.S.C.
§§841(a)(1), (b)(1)(C); (3) distribution of
N-Benzylpiperazine (“BZP”), in violation of 21
U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(C); (4) distribution of
4-MEC, a controlled substance analogue, in violation of 21
U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(C); (5) distribution of
BZP, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1),
(b)(1)(C); (6) distribution of 3,
4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (“MDMA”), in
violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(C); (7)
distribution of 4-MEC, a controlled substance analogue, in
violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(C); (8)
distribution of heroin, in violation of 21 U.S.C.
§§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(C); and (9) distribution of
heroin, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1),
(b)(1)(C) and 18 U.S.C. § 2. (ECF No. 1.)
January 4, 2018, Stanley pled guilty, pursuant to a plea
agreement, to Count 8 of the Indictment, and the Government
agreed to dismiss the remaining counts. The plea agreement
contained the following language with respect to issues
reserved for appeal and post-conviction attack:
Defendant acknowledges having been advised by counsel of
Defendant's rights, in limited circumstances, to appeal
the conviction or sentence in this case, including the appeal
right conferred by 18 U.S.C. § 3742, and to challenge
the conviction or sentence collaterally through a
post-conviction proceeding, including a proceeding under 28
U.S.C. § 2255. Defendant expressly and voluntarily
waives those rights, except as specifically reserved below.
Defendant reserves the right to appeal: (a) any punishment in
excess of the statutory maximum; or (b) the Court's
determination of Defendant's Criminal History Category.
Nothing in this paragraph shall act as a bar to Defendant
perfecting any legal remedies Defendant may otherwise have on
appeal or collateral attack with respect to claims of
ineffective assistance of counsel or prosecutorial
(ECF No. 21, at PageID #129.)
April 17, 2018, the court sentenced Stanley to 84 months of
imprisonment. (ECF No. 22.) Stanley did not appeal his
conviction or sentence. On March 19, 2019, Petitioner timely
filed the instant § 2255 Petition, claiming an
unconstitutional conviction in violation of the Ninth
Amendment as well as ineffective assistance of counsel. (ECF
No. 27.) The Government submitted a response in opposition on
May 1, 2019 (ECF No. 33) and Petitioner submitted a reply to
the Government's response on May 16, 2019 (ECF No. 34).
2255, Title 28 of the United States Code, allows a district
court to vacate, set aside, or correct a federal sentence
that was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of
the United States or was imposed by a court without
jurisdiction, exceeds the maximum sentence authorized by law,
or is otherwise subject to collateral attack. 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255. Collateral relief, however, is limited, and
“[o]nce [a] defendant's chance to appeal has been
waived or exhausted, . . . we are entitled to presume he
stands fairly and finally convicted” and “a
collateral challenge may not do service for an appeal.”
United States v. Frady, 456 U.S. 152, 164-65 (1982).
Generally, to prevail on a § 2255 motion alleging a
constitutional error, the petitioner must show an error of
constitutional magnitude, which had a substantial and
injurious effect or influence on the proceedings. Brecht
v. Abrahamson, 507 U.S. 619, 637-38 (1993); see also
Murr v. United States, 200 F.3d 895, 906 (6th Cir.
2000) (confirming that Brecht standard applies in § 2255
actions, as well as § 2254 actions). On collateral
review, it is the movant's burden to establish his right
to relief. See McQueen v. United States, 58
Fed.Appx. 73, 76 (6th Cir. 2003).
LAW AND ANALYSIS
raises two claims in his § 2255 Petition. First, he
argues that the drug that he pled guilty to distributing is
not on the controlled substance analogue list. (Pet. at
PageID #212, ECF No. 27.) Thus, he contends that he did not
commit the crime for which he was charged, which violates the
Ninth Amendment. (Id. at PageID #214-15.) Second,
Petitioner claims that his counsel was ineffective because he
failed to explain to Stanley the elements of the crime to
which he pled guilty, including that he was pleading guilty
to distributing a substance not listed in the statute.
(Id. at PageID #235-37.)
court notes that under the terms of the plea agreement,
Stanley waived his right to challenge his conviction or
sentence on appeal, as well as through a post-conviction
proceeding under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 on most grounds. (Plea
Agreement, Page ID #129, ECF No. 21.) Therefore, Petitioner
waived his right to challenge his conviction on the basis
that his actions did not meet the elements of the crime. See
Short v. United States, 471 F.3d 686, 698 (6th Cir.
2006) (“[P]lea-agreement waivers of § 2255 rights
are generally enforceable.”) (quoting Davila v.
United States, 258 F.3d 448, 450 (6th Cir. 2001)). To
the extent that Petitioner styles his Ninth Amendment claim
as a challenge to “punishment in excess of the
statutory maximum, ” as reserved in his plea agreement,
this argument is also barred by waiver because Petitioner
failed to raise it on direct appeal. Similarly,
Petitioner's claim of ineffective assistance of counsel
is procedurally defaulted because he did not first raise on
direct appeal the issue that his plea was not knowing,
intelligent, and voluntary. Bousley v. United
States, 523 U.S. 614, 621 (1998) (“[T]he
voluntariness and intelligence of a guilty plea can be
attacked on a collateral review only if first challenged on
even if Petitioner's claims were not barred by waiver,
the premise of his wrongful conviction arguments are
incorrect. Although Petitioner argues that his conviction was
improper because the substances he pled to distributing were
not on a controlled analogue list, and thus, did not meet the
elements of the crime for which he was convicted, Petitioner
pled to Count 8 of the Indictment, which charges him with
distribution of heroin, a Schedule I controlled substance.
(Plea Agreement at PageID #124.) The Government ...