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Watkins v. United States

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

November 20, 2019

JASMINE WATKINS, Defendant-Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Plaintiff-Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          DONALD NUGENT Senior United States District Judge

         This matter comes before the Court upon the Petitioner's Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. (ECF #662). Petitioner seeks to vacate his sentence and conviction on Count One, Conspiracy to Possess with the Intent to Distribute and/or Distribution of Cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846 & 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(A) and Count Twenty-Eight, Felon in Possession of a Firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). He alleges that his convictions are unconstitutional. (ECF #662). For the reasons set forth below, Petitioner's Motion is DENIED.

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On November 14, 2012, Petitioner pled guilty to Conspiracy and to being a Felon in Possession of a firearm. (ECF #270). Petitioner raised no objection to the Pre-sentence Investigation Report (PSR). (ECF #337). Petitioner did, untimely, object to two of the criminal history points. (ECF #451). The government argued that (1) the Petitioner admitted to engaging in the conduct required of the offense within the relevant time period; and, (2) this additional two-level enhancement was inconsequential because without the enhancement Petitioner was still in criminal history category VI. (Id.). Although it was untimely, the District Court heard the argument, but ultimately overruled Petitioner's objection. (Id.).

         On February 1, 2013, Petitioner was sentenced to the mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 240 months. (ECF #356). Petitioner filed a timely appeal. (ECF #355). On April 1, 2014, the Court of Appeals affirmed Petitioner's conviction. (ECF #455). Petitioner then filed a Motion for a New Trial under Rule 33(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, (ECF #452), which the Court denied. (ECF #453).

         On October 17, 2019, Petitioner filed a Motion to Vacate and Correct Sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. (ECF #662).

         FACTS OF THE CASE

         Petitioner was a drug dealer with four prior drug distribution convictions. (ECF #337). On October 26, 2011, officials from Federal Bureau of Investigation executed a federal search warrant at 460 Reynolds Avenue, Columbus, Ohio, the residence of Petitioner. (ECF #12). The search yielded a Sig Sauer automatic weapon, one magazine, .40 caliber rounds, miscellaneous paper, photographs, mail, a copy of a photo ID for Petitioner, a Kodiak EasyShare, two Samsung TMobile cell phones, a notebook, 9mm rounds, books, and New York license plates. (Id.). The wiretaps and later physical surveillance revealed that Petitioner was responsible for importing multiple kilograms of cocaine into the Stark County, Ohio area. (Id.).

         DISCUSSION

         Petitioner filed a Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. (ECF #662). Title 28, U.S.C, § 2255, sets forth the four grounds upon which a federal prisoner may base a claim for relief: (1) that the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or the laws of the United States; (2) that the court was without jurisdiction to impose such sentence; (3) that the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law; or (4) that the sentence is otherwise subject to collateral attack. Hill v. United States, 368 U.S. 424, 426-27 (1962). To prevail on a § 2255 motion, Petitioner must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that his/her constitutional rights were denied or infringed. United States v. Wright, 624 F.2d 557, 558 (5th Cir. 1980).

         It is well settled that a proper § 2255 motion does not reach alleged errors that are not of a constitutional or jurisdictional magnitude and that could have been reached by a direct appeal. Stone v. Powell 428 U.S. 465, 477 (1976). To "obtain collateral relief a prisoner must clear a significantly higher hurdle than would exist on direct appeal." United States v. Fradv, 456 U.S. 152, 166 (1982). "Once the defendant's chance to appeal has been waived or exhausted, however, we are entitled to presume he stands fairly and finally convicted." Id. at 164.

         Next, the Court in Clav v. United States, 537 U.S. 522, 525-27 (2003), held that where a defendant does not seek certiorari review from the appellate court judgment, the judgment becomes final when the time to petition for a writ of certiorari expires. The petitioner in this case had a window of ninety days after the Court of Appeals affirmed his conviction to file a writ of certiorari; this window closed on June 30, 2014. Petitioner now files his motion under § 2255 more than five years after his conviction became final. Thus, the motion is time barred.

         CONCLUSION

         Based on the above rationale, Petitioner's Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 is DENIED without an evidentiary hearing, as the files and records of this Court establish that he is not entitled to any relief. See Valentine v. United States, 488 F.3d 325, 333 (6th Cir. 2007) (no evidentiary hearing required where "record conclusively shows that the petitioner is entitled to no relief) (quoting Arredondo v. United States, 178 F.3d 778, 782 (6th Cir. 1999)); Ross v. United States, 339 F.3d 483, 490 (6th Cir. 2003) (quoting Green v. United States, 65 F.3d 546 (6th Cir. 1995)). Petitioner has not complied with procedural requirements, as he filed the ...


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