USA v. Michael Newell
Filed Nonprecedential Disposition PER CURIAM. DISMISSED. Diane P. Wood, Chief Judge; William J. Bauer, Circuit Judge and David F. Hamilton, Circuit Judge. [6909581-1]  [17-2883]
To be cited only in accordance with Fed. R. App. P. 32.1
United States Court of Appeals
For the Seventh Circuit
Chicago, Illinois 60604
Submitted March 9, 2018*
Decided March 12, 2018
DIANE P. WOOD, Chief Judge
WILLIAM J. BAUER, Circuit Judge
DAVID F. HAMILTON, Circuit Judge
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Appeal from the United States District
Court for the Southern District of Indiana,
Terre Haute Division.
William T. Lawrence,
O R D E R
Michael Newell participated in a drug‐dealing operation to bring large amounts
of marijuana into Indiana. After being arrested, he pleaded guilty to conspiring to
distribute and to possess with intent to distribute 100 kilograms of marijuana in
violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and to conspiring to commit money laundering in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(h). As part of his plea agreement, he entered into a broad
* We have agreed to decide the case without oral argument because the briefs and
record adequately present the facts and legal arguments, and oral argument would not
significantly aid the court. See FED. R. APP. P. 34(a)(2)(C).
appeal waiver. The district court sentenced him to ten years’ imprisonment and eight
years’ supervised release.
Fourteen months later, Newell filed a motion seeking a declaratory judgment
that marijuana was not a Schedule I illegal controlled substance at the time of his
conviction in 2015. He also moved to vacate his criminal judgment because he
contended that marijuana’s status as a legal substance made his conviction for
conspiring to possess and distribute this drug void. The district court denied his
motion, explaining with reference to 21 U.S.C. § § 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(A)(vii), and
(b)(1)(B)(vii), that at both the current time and the time of his conviction, marijuana was
an unlawful controlled substance under federal law.
On appeal Newell maintains that marijuana is not a Schedule I controlled
substance and alternatively argues that this drug should be declared “lawful.” Even
though he styled his motion as seeking a declaratory judgment, he is trying to attack his
conviction collaterally. See Curry v. United States, 507 F.3d 603, 604 (7th Cir. 2007) (“[I]t
does not matter how the prisoner labels his pleading. … It is substance that controls.”).
But in his plea agreement, he waived the right to bring such a challenge, and so we
cannot consider it:
Defendant expressly waives his right to appeal the conviction and any
sentence imposed on any ground, including the right to appeal conferred
by 18 U.S.C. § 3742. Additionally, he also expressly agrees not to contest
his conviction or sentence or seek to modify his sentence or the manner in
which it was determined in any type of proceedings, including, but not
limited to, an action brought under 28 U.S.C. § 2255.
See United States v. Worthen, 842 F.3d 552, 554–55 (7th Cir. 2016) (emphasizing the
enforceability of appeal waivers). No exception to the appeal waiver is suggested by the
record in this case. See Dowell v. United States, 694 F.3d 898, 902 (7th Cir. 2012). We
therefore DISMISS the appeal.
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