Reed v. United States of America
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER on Motion to Vacate, Set Aside or Correct Sentence (2255); The Petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (Docket Entry 1) is DENIED. As a result, Petitioner's motion to appoint counsel (Docket Entry 10) is DENIED as MOOT. Because there can be no debate among reasonable jurists that Petitioner was not entitled to habeas relief, the Court does not issue a Certificate of Appealability. Certificate of Appealability Denied re 1 Motion to V acate/Set Aside/Correct Sentence (2255). The Clerk of the Court is directed to mail a copy of this Memorandum and Order to the pro se Petitioner and to mark this matter CLOSED. So Ordered by Judge Joanna Seybert on 10/25/2017. C/M; C/ECF (Valle, Christine)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
-againstUNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Charles Reed, pro se
United States Penitentiary, Allenwood
P.O. Box 1000
White Deer, PA 17887
Charles N. Rose, Esq.
Nicole Boeckmann, Esq.
United States Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of New York
610 Federal Plaza
Central Islip, NY 11722
SEYBERT, District Judge:
Charles Reed (“Petitioner”) petitions the Court pro se
for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255.
following reasons, the Petition is DENIED.
On March 22, 2012, at the conclusion of a jury trial,
(see, Minute Entry, Docket Entry 70), Petitioner was convicted of
Conspiracy to Distribute at Least 280 Grams of Cocaine Base and
500 Grams of Cocaine, a Class “A” Felony, in violation of 21 U.S.C.
§§ 846, 841(a)(1), 851(a), 841(b)(1)(A)(iii), 841(b)(1)(B)(ii)
(II), and other related crimes.
Docket Entry 119.)
(See, Docket No. 10-CR-0826, J.,
Before trial, the Government filed a Prior
convictions. (See Docket No. 10-CR-0826, PFI, Docket Entry 61.)
Specifically, the PFI referred to Petitioner’s 1993 conviction in
Middlesex County, New Jersey, for Possession of a Controlled
Substance with Intent to distribute in violation of New Jersey
Code of Criminal Justice Section 2C:35-5.
(PFI ¶ 1.)
Department submitted a Presentence Investigation Report (“PSR”)
Designation and deemed him a Career Offender due to his prior
convictions for controlled substance offenses.
(See PSR ¶¶ 36,
The PSR identified a total of four prior drug related
convictions, including Petitioner’s 1993 New Jersey conviction
(PSR ¶¶ 41, 44, 46, 47.)
The PSR indicated that Petitioner was
facing a sentence between 360 months to life imprisonment and a
mandatory minimum sentence of 240 months’ imprisonment.
On April 19, 2013, the Court sentenced Petitioner to the
mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment.
At the sentencing hearing, counsel for Petitioner requested that
the mandatory minimum sentence be imposed, stating “I would just
basically go along with the recommendation by probation to [the]
mandatory minimum of 20 years” (Sentencing Tr. 24:15-17.)
Court discussed the given sentence, stating “I have reviewed the
I was at the trial.
further, I decline to do so.”
I have considered all the
(Sentencing Tr. 26:10-14.)
Petitioner appealed the conviction and sentence to the
Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
On August 25, 2014, the Second
Circuit held that Petitioner’s claims regarding his sentence were
meritless and affirmed the conviction and sentence.
v. Reed, 576 F. App’x 60, 62 (2d Cir. 2014.)
On June 15, 2015, Petitioner filed his Petition to vacate
his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. (Petition, Docket Entry
Attached to his Petition is a May 2015 Order vacating his New
Jersey felony conviction contained in the aforementioned PFI.
(See, Pet. at 6; PFI ¶ 1.)
Because his prior New Jersey conviction
was vacated, Petitioner argues that the Court’s sentence was
sentence and resentence him.
standard before turning to the merits of the Petition.
I. Legal Standard
“The writ of habeas corpus stands as a safeguard against
imprisonment of those held in violation of the law.”
v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 91, 131 S. Ct. 770, 780, 178 L. Ed. 2d
When considering petitions for habeas relief, the
Supreme Court has held that “to obtain collateral relief a prisoner
must clear a significantly higher hurdle than would exist on direct
United States v. Frady, 456 U.S. 152, 166, 102 S.Ct.
1584, 1593, 71 L. Ed. 2d 816 (1982).
In petitions for habeas
relief, the petitioner has the burden of proving his claims by a
preponderance of the evidence.
Skaftouros v. United States, 667
F.3d 144, 158 (2d Cir. 2011).
The authority to grant a habeas
petition “is to be exercised sparingly, for such applications ‘are
in tension with society’s strong interest in the finality of
Castro v. United States 993 F. Supp. 2d
332, 340 (E.D.N.Y. Jan. 29, 2014) (quoting Elize v. United States,
No. 02-CV-1350, 2008 WL 4425286, at *5 (E.D.N.Y. Sept. 30, 2008).
To warrant habeas relief under Section 2255 a petitioner
must show “that the sentence was imposed in violation of the
Constitution or laws of the United States, or that the court was
without jurisdiction to impose such sentence, or that the sentence
was in excess of the maximum authorized by law, or is otherwise
subject to collateral attack”.
28 U.S.C. § 2255(a).
jurisdiction in the sentencing court, or an error of law or fact
that constitutes a ‘fundamental defect which inherently results in
a complete miscarriage of justice.’”
United States v. Bokun, 73
F.3d 8, 12 (2d Cir. 1995) (quoting Hill v. United States, 368 U.S.
424, 428, 82 S. Ct. 468, 471, 7 L. Ed. 2d 417 (1962)).
determining whether to grant habeas relief, “the scope of review
on a § 2255 motion should be ‘narrowly limited’ in order to
preserve the finality of criminal sentences and to effect the
efficient allocation of judicial resources.”
Graziano v. United
States, 83 F.3d 587, 590 (2d Cir. 1996) (citation omitted).
successfully attacked his state conviction in state court or on
federal habeas review could then ‘apply for reopening of any
federal sentence enhanced by the state sentences.’”
United States, 544 U.S. 295, 303, 125 S. Ct. 1571, 1578, 161 L.
Ed. 2d 542 (2005) (quoting Custis v. United States, 511 U.S. 485,
497, 114 S. Ct. 1732, 1739, 128 L. Ed. 2d 517 (1994)).
“vacatur alone does not entitle a petitioner to habeas relief,”
but simply permits a petitioner to seek review.
United States v.
Pettiford, 612 F.3d 270, 278 (4th Cir. 2010).
Petitioner contends that because his 1993 New Jersey
conviction was vacated, he is now entitled to habeas relief and
resentencing by the Court.
At the time of sentence, Petitioner was deemed a Career
Offender, under a Criminal History Category VI, with a Sentencing
Guidelines Range of 360 months to life imprisonment.
93; see also U.S.S.G. 4B1.1(a).)
(PSR ¶ 92.)
(PSR ¶¶ 36,
Further, the top charge of which
It is undisputed that at the time of
sentencing Petitioner had four prior felony controlled substance
convictions. (PSR ¶¶ 41, 44, 46, 47.) Petitioner has successfully
attacked his 1993 New Jersey conviction, (PSR ¶ 46) but three
additional felony controlled substance convictions remain in his
(PSR ¶¶ 41, 44, 47.)
successfully attack state convictions may seek review of federal
sentences that were enhanced on account of such state convictions.”
United States v. Doe, 239 F.3d 473, 475 (2d Cir. 2001).
the Court was faced with an appellant who pled guilty to a federal
offense and was seeking vacatur of the underlying conviction that
exposed him to a higher Criminal History level and an increased
It is significant in Doe that the appellant’s
sentencing enhancement was based on the single prior conviction he
was seeking to vacate.
In contrast to Doe, Petitioner has
trigger sentencing enhancement, regardless of the vacatur of his
1993 New Jersey conviction.
(PSR ¶¶ 41, 44, 47.)
The Court finds
additional guidance from the Fourth Circuit’s analysis in United
States v. Pettiford, 12 F.3d, 270, 278 (4th Cir. 2010).
Pettiford, the Fourth Circuit was faced with an individual seeking
habeas relief, arguing that he should be permitted to collaterally
attack his federal sentence that was enhanced based on his Armed
Career Criminal designation.
Id. at 275.
There, Pettiford argued
that as he successfully vacated two of his predicate convictions
he was entitled to review of his federal sentence.
Id. at 276.
In response the government argued that “Pettiford’s record retains
three convictions that support enhancing his sentence.”
The Fourth Circuit ultimately held that the vacatur of an
underlying conviction does not lead to automatic relief, rather
“the petitioner must still meet his burden of showing that his
sentence is unlawful on one of the specified grounds, because only
after determining that a sentence is unlawful can the district
court vacate and set aside the sentence.”
Id. at 278.
reviewed Petitioner’s request for habeas relief, but finds that
Petitioner is not entitled to relief for several reasons.
starting point, Petitioner fails to raise any arguments that his
sentence violates the Constitution or that the Court was without
jurisdiction to sentence him.
As such, the Court turns to whether
Petitioner’s sentence has resulted in “an error of law or fact
that constitutes a ‘fundamental defect which inherently results in
conviction does not alter his Career Offender and Criminal History
The Sentencing Guidelines indicate, in pertinent
part, that an individual will be deemed a Career Offender, facing
enhanced sentencing, when “(1) the defendant was at least eighteen
years old at the time the defendant committed the instant offense
of conviction; (2) the instant offense of conviction is a felony
that is either a crime of violence or a controlled substance
offense; and (3) the defendant has at least two prior felony
convictions of either a crime of violence or a controlled substance
See U.S.S.G 4B1.1(a).
While the conviction named in
controlled substance related felony convictions.
(PSR ¶¶ 41, 44,
Irrespective of the vacated conviction, Petitioner meets the
statutory requirements for the Career Offender designation and is
still subject to the corresponding enhancements.
(PSR ¶¶ 41, 44,
47; see U.S.S.G. 4B1.1(a).)
Second, the 20-year sentence does not exceed what is
permissible by law.
The maximum sentence Petitioner faced was
life imprisonment, regardless of whether the minimum sentence is
10 years, as Petitioner argues, or 20 years.
See, 21 U.S.C.
considerably lower than the guidelines range of 360 months to life
imprisonment. (PSR ¶ 93.) During Petitioner’s sentencing the Court
stated: “I have reviewed the probation report. I was at the trial.
I have considered all the factors, and while some courts might
penalize the defendant further, I decline to do so.”
underlying conviction named in the PFI lowered the mandatory
sentence is fundamentally flawed.
S. Ct. at 471.
See Hill, 368 U.S. at 428, 82
During sentencing the Court informed Petitioner
Ms. Boeckman: And, to be clear, obviously the
court considered all the factors of 3553(a),
even absent the prior felony information would
deem a 20-year sentence based on the
guidelines to be reasonable
The Court: Absolutely, and according to all
the findings . . . and facts indicated in the
findings of the guideline offense level.
(Sentencing Tr. 29:4-10.)
The Court made clear to Petitioner that
(See Sentencing Tr. 29:4-10.)
Therefore, the Court
relied on all the factors in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) and provided a
sentence “sufficient, but not greater than necessary, to comply
with the purposes” of sentencing.
18 U.S.C. § 3553(a).
For the reasons stated above, Petitioner has failed to
establish that his sentence resulted in an error of law or fact or
was fundamentally flawed.
Accordingly, the Petition is DENIED.
The Petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 2255
Petitioner’s motion to appoint counsel (Docket Entry 10) is DENIED
Because there can be no debate among reasonable jurists
that Petitioner was not entitled to habeas relief, the Court does
not issue a Certificate of Appealability.
28 U.S.C. § 2253(c);
see also Middleton v. Att’ys Gen., 396 F.3d 207, 209 (2d Cir.
The Clerk of the Court is directed to mail a copy of
this Memorandum and Order to the pro se Petitioner and to mark
this matter CLOSED.
/s/ JOANNA SEYBERT______
Joanna Seybert, U.S.D.J.
25 , 2017
Central Islip, New York
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