WASHINGTON v. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
OPINION filed. Signed by Judge Anne E. Thompson on 12/29/2014. (mmh)
U\EC 29 20V~
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
V\'ILI:_IAM T. WALSH CLERK
Civ. No. 13-0275
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Petitioner Ryan Washington, a federal prisoner, has filed this Motion pursuant to 28
U.S. C. § 2255, to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence. (Doc. No. 1). Respondent United
States of America opposes. (Doc. No. 6). The Court has issued the Opinion below based on the
parties' written submissions. For the reasons stated herein, the petition will be denied.
Petitioner and three co-defendants were convicted by jury trial in April 2003 of various
federal crimes stemming from a string of armed bank robberies. See U.S. v. Washington, 371
Fed. App'x 340, 341 (3d Cir. 2010). Petitioner was ultimately sentenced to 444 months
imprisonment, which he is currently serving. Id. at 343. On January 11, 2013, he filed this§
2255 petition, asserting ineffective assistance of counsel. (Doc No. 1). Although at trial
Petitioner's counsel made a general motion for judgment of acquittal on all counts, Petitioner
alleges that this trial lawyer was constitutionally deficient because he failed to move for a
judgment of acquittal specifically on the attempted robbery charge. (ld. at 12-14). According to
Petitioner, the evidence at trial was insufficient to support a guilty verdict on this count, and he
claims that he is actually innocent of that particular crime. (!d. at 4-15). In addition, Petitioner
asserts that his appellate counsel was also constitutionally inadequate because he failed to raise
the issue of insufficiency of the evidence on appeal. (!d. at 16-18). Petitioner seeks an
evidentiary hearing exploring his claim of actual innocence. (!d. at. 21 ). In opposition, the
Government asserts that Petitioner's motion is time-barred.
A. Legal Standard
The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDP A"), imposes a oneyear statute of limitations for filing a federal petition for habeas corpus, starting from "the date
on which the judgment of conviction becomes final." 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f)(1). Credible claims
of actual innocence may operate as an exception to the AEDPA's statute of limitations, but only
if "new evidence shows it is more likely than not that no reasonable juror would have convicted
[the petitioner]." McQuiggin v. Perkins, 133 S. Ct. 1924, 1933 (2013) (internal quotations
omitted). This standard is "demanding," and only overcomes the statute of limitations where "a
petition presents evidence of innocence so strong that a court cannot have confidence in the
outcome of the trial unless the court is also satisfied that the trial was free of nonharmless
constitutional error." !d. at 1936. Moreover, "actual innocence means factual innocence, not
mere legal insufficiency." Sistrunk v. Rozum, 674 F.3d 181, 191 (3d Cir. 2012).
Here, Petitioner's conviction and sentence were affirmed on direct appeal by the Third
Circuit on December 13, 2007 and March 18, 2010, respectively. See U.S. v. Goggans, 257 Fed.
App'x 515, 517 (3d Cir. 2007); Washington, 371 Fed. App'x at 343. He did not petition for
certiorari from the Supreme Court. Thus, Petitioner's conviction became final on June 17, 2010,
the date that the 90 day period for certiorari filing expired. See Kapral v. U.S., 166 F.3d 565,
570-71 (3d Cir. 1999) (explaining that, where certiorari is not sought, judgment becomes final
when the 90 day certiorari petition period expires from the entry of the Circuit's judgment).
Petitioner did not mail his§ 2255 motion until January 7, 2013, roughly 19 months after the
statute of limitations had expired on June 17, 2011. See Burns v. Morton, 134 F.3d 109, 113 (3d
Cir. 1998) (for prose motions, the motion is deemed filed when the prisoner puts it into the
prison mail system). Therefore, Petitioner's motion is time barred unless the actual innocence
exception applies. 1
Petitioner's conviction was affirmed by the Third Circuit, which found that "there was
ample evidence to support the jury's finding of guilt on each count." Goggans, 257 Fed. App'x
at 517. Petitioner, in his present motion, has identified no new evidence to support his claim of
actual innocence. 2 Rather, he appears to be asserting claims of legal insufficiency, 3 rather than
factual innocence, which is required under the exception. See Sistrunk, 674 F.3d at 191.
Petitioner has failed to identify any evidence which would cast doubt on the validity of the jury's
guilty verdict and the Third Circuit's subsequent affirmance. Therefore, the actual innocence
Plaintiff admits that the Motion is untimely, but explains that he was "misled as to when the
statute of limitations began to run." (Doc. No. 1). However, "attorney error, miscalculation,
inadequate research, or other mistakes have not been found to rise to the 'extraordinary
circumstances' required for equitable tolling." Fahy v. Horn, 240 F.3d 239, 244 (3d Cir. 2001).
Thus, the prospect of equitable tolling is also foreclosed from Petitioner.
And another review of the record by this Court again confirms that the evidence presented at
trial-e.g., evidence of modus operandi, DNA, fingerprint, surveillance footage, cellular phone
usage data, robbery kit, and Petitioner's watch-was sufficient to support the jury's guilty
verdict on all counts.
For example, Petitioner'~ brief claims "the evidence presented against him at trial on the
attempted robbery charge clearly was insufficient and did not establish his guilt." (Doc. No. 1. at
4). The brief further asserts that the evidence presented at trial was legally insufficient to
establish that Petitioner performed a "substantial step" toward the commission of the robbery.
(Jd. at 4-14).
exception does not apply, and Petitioner's Motion is barred by the AEDPA's statute of
Petitioner also seeks an evidentiary hearing on his claim of actual innocence. "Section
2255 requires a district court to hold an evidentiary hearing on a§ 2255 motion unless the
motion and the files and records of the case conclusively show that the movant is not entitled to
relief." Faines v. U.S., 808 F. Supp. 2d 708, 715 (D. Del. 2011) (internal citations omitted). As
stated above, the record conclusively indicates that Petitioner is not entitled to relief because his
motion is time-barred. Therefore, Petitioner's motion will be denied without any evidentiary
In addition, the Court will decline to issue a certificate of appealability as Petitioner has
not made a "substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right." 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2);
see also Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484 (2000).
For the reasons above, Petitioner's § 2255 Motion will be denied without an evidentiary
ANNE E. THOMPSON, U.S.D.J
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?