Gordon v. United States of America
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS dismissing 1 Motion to Vacate/Set Aside/Correct Sentence (2255) filed by Maurice Anthony Gordon, granting 6 MOTION to Dismiss Gordon's Successive 28 U.S.C. § 2255 Motion filed by United States of America. Objections to R&R due by 4/26/2017. Signed by Magistrate Judge G. R. Smith on 4/12/17. (wwp)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
MAURICE ANTHONY GORDON,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Movant Maurice Anthony Gordon, proceeding pro se, moves under
28 U.S.C. § 2255 to vacate his sentence. Doc.
177;1 see docs. 14
(indictment), 90 (jury verdict), 96 (judgment for 180 months’
imprisonment). The Government seeks to dismiss his motion as
successive (doc. 183); Gordon has not opposed.
This is not Gordon’s first rodeo. After judgment was entered on
March 28, 2000, he unsuccessfully appealed,
see United States v.
Gordon, 273 F.3d 1119 (Table) (11th Cir. 2001), and attempted
The Court is citing to the criminal docket in CR499-153 unless otherwise noted,
and all page numbers are those imprinted by the Court’s docketing software.
(unsuccessfully) to challenge his sentence, see doc. 137, 140 & 143
(dismissed as untimely). In August 2015, the Department of Justice
(DOJ) issued a letter informing counsel that a microscopic hair
comparison analysis prepared during the investigation had included
“erroneous . . . statements that exceeded the limits of science.” Doc.
176 at 1 (ordering a copy served on Gordon). The DOJ had apparently
reviewed Gordon’s file as part of a systematic review of “microscopic
hair comparison reports and testimony presented . . . before December
31, 1999,” and determined that his report had “overstat[ed] the
conclusions that may appropriately be drawn from a positive
association between evidentiary hair and a known hair sample.” Id. at
Gordon filed this latest motion on January 22, 2017 -- without
authorization from the Eleventh Circuit to present a successive habeas
motion -- contending that this “new” information warranted § 2255
relief. Doc. 177. To file a second or successive § 2255 motion, however,
he first had to file an application with the Eleventh Circuit for an order
authorizing the district court to consider the motion. 28 U.S.C.
§ 2244(b)(3)(A); Farris v. United States , 333 F.3d 1211, 1216 (11th Cir.
2003). A panel of the court of appeals must certify that the second or
successive motion contains:
(1) newly discovered evidence that, if proven and viewed in
light of the evidence as a whole, would be sufficient to
establish by clear and convincing evidence that no reasonable
factfinder would have found the movant guilty of the offense;
(2) a new rule of constitutional law, made retroactive to cases
on collateral review by the Supreme Court, that was
28 U.S.C. § 2255(h); In re Anderson , 396 F.3d 1336, 1337 (11th Cir.
2005). “Without authorization” from the court of appeals, a “district
court lack[s] jurisdiction to consider [a movant’s] second or successive”
motion. Carter v. United States , 405 F. App’x 409, 410 (1 1th Cir. 2010).
Since this Court dismissed Gordon’s first § 2255 motion on the
merits2 and he has not sought authorization from the Eleventh Circuit to
file a successive motion, there is no jurisdiction to consider his second
petition. In re Bradford , 830 F.3d 1273, 1277 (11th Cir. 2016); United
Dismissal as time- barred is “on the merits,” making any later motion challenging
the same conviction successive and therefore requiring authorization by the Circuit
panel prior to filing in the district court. In re Rains , 659 F.3d 1274, 1275 (10th Cir.
2011) (collecting cases).
States v. Holt , 417 F.3d 1172, 1175 (11th Cir. 2005); s ee also Medberry v.
Crosby , 351 F.3d 1049, 1061 (11th Cir. 2003) (“when a federal prisoner’s
claims fall within the ambit of § 2255, the prisoner is subject to that
section’s restrictions”). 3
Further, no exception to the successiveness bar applies here. See Stewart v. United
States , 646 F.3d 856, 861 (11th Cir. 2011) (describing a limited class of cases where
the successiveness bar would not apply because “the b asis for [the] claim did not
exist” at the time of movant’s initial § 2255 motion , such as a motion to vacate an
enhanced sentence based upon a newly-vacated conviction).
Though Gordon only recently received the DOJ’s letter, any claim that the
microscopic hair comparison analysis was insufficient was not only available to him
at the time of his first § 2255 motion, but he also argued it (extensively) during trial.
See, e.g., doc. 101 at 29- 30 (counsel’s opening statement criticizing the reliability o f
the hair analysis); id. at 245- 46 (counsel’s cross -examination of an FBI special agent,
leading to testimony that “microscopic examination of the hair . . . does not allow for
a positive identification [like] DNA testing” and that the FBI had requested “ blood
samples” and “mouth swabbings” from Gordon to “offer a more accurate
identification of the hairs”); id. at 266- 89 (lab report author’s testimony that while
she could demonstrate an “association” between “consistent” “hair exhibits” and
Gordon’s hair samples, she could not with certainty identify them as being identical
or belonging to the same individual (much less an individual of the same gender)); id.
at 371 (counsel’s closing argument that “consistent” hair samples are “not a basis for
a positive identification. It is not conclusive. There is no certainty. There is no proof
beyond a reasonable doubt.”).
And “claims based on a factual predicate not previously discoverable are
successive.” Stewart , 646 F.3d at 863 (quoting Leal Garcia v. Quarterman , 573 F.3d
214, 222 (5th Cir. 2009) (“ if the purported defect existed, or the claim was ripe, at the
time of the prior petition, the later petition is likely to be held successive even if the
legal basis for the attack was not. If, however, the purported defect did not arise, or
the claim did not ripen, until after the conclusion of the previous petition, the later
petition based on that defect may be non-successive. ”)); Scott v. United States , 81 F.
Supp. 3d 1326, 1334 (M.D. Fla. 2015) (“it is o nly defects that were wholly nonexistent
at the time the petitioner filed his initial motion to vacate that will avoid being
characterized as ‘second or successive’ in a subsequent motion to vacate.” ).
In other words, there is no claim here, about the limitations of the microscopic
hair comparison analysis, which has arisen since the time of trial (where counsel
It follows that movant cannot rely upon § 2255(h)(2) to permit his
indisputably successive filing. His motion is therefore procedurally
barred and must be DISMISSED . Accordingly, the Government’s
motion to dismiss Gordon’s § 2255 motion (doc. 183) should be
GRANTED . Also, it is plain that he raises no substantial claim of
deprivation of a constitutional right. Accordingly, no certificate of
appealability should issue. 28 U.S.C. § 2253; Fed. R. App. P. 22(b); Rule
11(a) of the Rules Governing Habeas Corpus Cases Under 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255 (“The district court must issue or deny a certificate of
appealability when it enters a final order adverse to the applicant.”).
Any motion for leave to appeal in forma pauperis therefore is moot.
This Report and Recommendation (R&R) is submitted to the
district judge assigned to this action, pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1)(B) and this Court’s Local Rule 72.3. Within 14 days of
service, any party may file written objections to this R&R with the
indisputably argued that it was insufficient and unreliable, exactly as the DOJ’s letter
indicated it to be). Hence, it cannot be considered “new evidence” invoking an
exception to the successiveness bar. Scott, 81 F. Supp. 3d at 1334. Movant’s motion
therefore must be deemed “second or successive,” and this Court lacks any
jurisdiction to further consider it absent permission from the Court of Appeals.
28 U.S.C. § 2255(h)(2); In re Morgan , 717 F.3d 1186, 1193 (11th Cir. 2013) ( “The bar
on second or successive motions is jurisdictional . . .” ).
Court and serve a copy on all parties. The document should be
captioned “Objections to Magistrate Judge’s Report and
Recommendations.” Any request for additional time to file objections
should be filed with the Clerk for consideration by the assigned district
After the objections period has ended, the Clerk shall submit this
R&R together with any objections to the assigned district judge. The
district judge will review the magistrate judge’s findings and
recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). The parties are
advised that failure to timely file objections will result in the waiver of
rights on appeal. 11th Cir. R. 3-1; see Symonett v. V.A. Leasing Corp. ,
648 F. App’x 787, 790 (11th Cir. 2016); Mitchell v. U.S. , 612 F. App’x
542, 545 (11th Cir. 2015).
SO REPORTED AND RECOMMENDED, this 12th day of
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
SOUThER}'T DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?