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United States v. Jones

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

December 16, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CHRISTOPHER R. JONES, DEFENDANT.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          HONORABLE SARA LIOI, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is the motion of defendant Christopher R. Jones (“Jones”) styled, “Petition for Permission to File for Relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255[, ]” which the Court construes as a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence. (Doc. No. 107 [“2255 Mot.”].) Plaintiff United States of America (the “government”) opposes the motion. (Doc. No. 109 [“Opp'n”].) Jones also moves the Court for the appointment of counsel. (Doc. No. 110 [“Mot. Counsel”.) For the reasons set forth below, Jones' motions are DENIED.

         I. Background

         On October 28, 2016, pursuant to a written plea agreement, Jones pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery (conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery), two counts of Hobbs Act robbery, and one count of using or carrying and brandishing a firearm in the course of committing Hobbs Act robbery.[1] (Minutes 10/28/2016; Doc. No. 52 (Plea Agreement); Doc. No. 12 (Indictment).[2]) The plea agreement contained a broad waiver provision restricting Jones' appeal rights including his right to take a direct appeal and a collateral attack of his sentence. With respect to the latter, the waiver provision generally precluded the filing of a “proceeding under 28 U.S.C. § 2255.” (Plea Agreement at 324.)

         On January 31, 2017, in accordance with the plea agreement, the Court sentenced Jones to 84 months for the using and brandishing charge to be served consecutively to 51 months on the remaining charges, for an aggregate term of imprisonment of 135 months. In consideration for his plea, the government agreed to dismiss another using and brandishing charge (Count 11) that carried a mandatory minimum sentence of seven years. (Doc. No. 71 (Judgment); see Plea Agreement at 320; Indictment.)

         Jones did not take a direct appeal. Instead, on October 22, 2018, more than 20 months after the Court entered final judgment, Jones filed the present § 2255 motion. In his motion, Jones maintains that recent authority from the United States Supreme Court and the Sixth Circuit requires the Court to find that the predicate offense supporting his using and brandishing conviction under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A)(ii)-Hobbs Act robbery-does not constitute a “crime of violence.” (Mot. at 887.) The government argues that his motion lacks merit, that it is time-barred, and that any argument Jones makes therein was knowingly and voluntarily waived by the express terms of the plea agreement.

         II. Evidentiary Hearing

         A court should hold an evidentiary hearing on a § 2255 motion “[u]nless the motion and the files and records of the case conclusively show that the prisoner is entitled to no relief[.]” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(b). Thus, “no hearing is required if the petitioner's allegations ‘cannot be accepted as true because they are contradicted by the record, inherently incredible, or conclusions rather than statements of fact.'” Arredondo v. United States, 178 F.3d 778, 782 (6th Cir. 1999) (quoting Engelen v. United States, 68 F.3d 238, 240 (8th Cir. 1995)); see also Napier v. United States, No. 93-5412, 1993 WL 406795, at *2 (6th Cir. Oct. 8, 1993) (“To be entitled to a hearing, the prisoner must set forth detailed factual allegations which, if true, would entitle him to relief under § 2255.”) (citing, among authorities, Machibroda v. United States, 368 U.S. 487, 496, 82 S.Ct. 510, 7 L.Ed.2d 473 (1962)); cf. Valentine v. United States, 488 F.3d 325, 334 (6th Cir. 2007) (finding that the burden is met where the petitioner “offers more than a mere assertion . . . he presents a factual narrative of the events that is neither contradicted by the record nor ‘inherently incredible'”). Where (as here) the judge considering the § 2255 motion also presided over the guilty plea and sentencing hearings, the judge may rely on his or her recollections of those proceedings. See Blanton v. United States, 94 F.3d 227, 235 (6th Cir. 1996) (citation omitted).

         The Court finds that an evidentiary hearing is not warranted in the present case. The undisputed facts in the record demonstrate that Jones' § 2255 motion-filed more than one year after his sentence became final-is time-barred under the governing statute.

         III. Jones' § 2255 Motion is Time-Barred

         The Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (ADEPA) “provides a one-year statute of limitations for filing a federal habeas petition.” Cleveland v. Bradshaw, 693 F.3d 626, 631 (6th Cir. 2012). Specifically, a prisoner must file his § 2255 motion within one year of the latest of:

(1) the date on which the judgment of conviction becomes final;
(2) the date on which the impediment to making a motion created by governmental action in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States is removed, if the movant was prevented from making a motion by such governmental action;
(3) the date on which the right asserted was initially recognized by the Supreme Court, if that right has been newly recognized by the Supreme Court and made retroactively ...

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