Rebuelta-Merlan v. United States of America
Copy of MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER administratively closing this case. (Signed by Judge Gray H Miller) Parties notified. (wbostic, 4)
United States District Court
Southern District of Texas
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
OSCAR IVAN REBUELTA MERLAN
October 06, 2017
David J. Bradley, Clerk
CRIMINAL ACTION H-14-557
CIVIL ACTION H-17-1290
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Defendant Oscar Ivan Rebuelta Merlan, proceeding prose, filed a motion to vacate,
set aside, or correct his sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. (Docket Entry No. 25.) The
Government filed a motion for summary judgment on June 26, 2017, serving Defendant
a copy at his address of record that same date. (Docket Entry No. 28.) Despite expiration
of a reasonable period of time in excess of three months, Defendant has failed to file a
response to the motion, and the motion is deemed unopposed.
Having considered the motion, the pleadings, the record, and the applicable law,
the Court GRANTS the motion for summary judgment and DISMISSES this lawsuit for
the reasons that follow.
Background and Claims
Defendant pleaded guilty to one count of illegal re-entry by a previously deported
alien after an aggravated felony conviction, in violation of 8 U.S.C. §§ 1326(a) and (b)(2).
In calculating Defendant's sentence, the Court added a 16-level enhancement pursuant to
USSG 2L1.2(b)(1)(A)(ii), based on the fact that Defendant was deported after having been
convicted of a crime of violence, namely robbery under the Texas Penal Code, for which
he received four years' imprisonment. Defendant did not file an appeal.
In the instant section 2255 proceeding, Defendant contends that he should be resentenced in light of the June 23, 2016, Supreme Court decision in Mathis v. United
States,_ U.S._, 136 S. Ct. 2243,2248-57 (2016). According to Defendant, Mathis
would hold that his prior state conviction for robbery is no longer a crime of violence for
purposes of the federal sentencing guidelines. The Government argues that Defendant's
claim is barred by limitations.
Generally, there are four grounds upon which a defendant may move to vacate, set
aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to section 2255: (1) the imposition of a sentence
in violation of the Constitution or the laws of the United States; (2) a lack of jurisdiction
of the district court that imposed the sentence; (3) the imposition of a sentence in excess
of the maximum authorized by law; and (4) the sentence is otherwise subject to collateral
attack. 28 U.S.C. § 2255; United States v. Piacente, 81 F.3d 555, 558 (5th Cir. 1996).
Section 2255 is an extraordinary measure, and cannot be used for errors that are not
constitutional or jurisdictional if those errors could have been raised on direct appeal.
United States v. Stumpf, 900 F.2d 842, 845 (5th Cir. 1990). If the error is not of
constitutional or jurisdictional magnitude, the movant must show the error could not have
been raised on direct appeal and would, if condoned, result in a complete miscarriage of
justice. United States v. Smith, 32 F.3d 194, 196 (5th Cir. 1994).
A motion made under section 2255 is subject to a one-year statute of limitations,
which, in most cases, begins to run when the judgment becomes final. 28 U.S.C. §
2255(t). The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court have held that a
judgment becomes "final" for purposes of limitations when the applicable period for
seeking review of a conviction has expired. Clay v. United States, 537 U.S. 522, 531-32
(2003); United States v. Gamble, 208 F.3d 536, 536-37 (5th Cir. 2000) (per curiam).
In this case, a judgment of conviction was entered against Defendant on April 9,
2015, and no notice of appeal was filed.
The judgment became final fourteen days
thereafter, on April 23, 2015. See FED. R. APP. P. 4(b)(1). Defendant was required to
file his section 2255 motion to vacate no later than one year from that date, on or before
April 23, 20 16. Defendant's section 225 5 motion was filed no earlier than April 14, 2017.
Thus, unless an exception applies to modify or extend the standard limitations period,
Defendant's section 2255 motion for relief is untimely by almost one year.
Relying on Mathis, Defendant claims that this Court incorrectly increased his base
offense by sixteen levels, because it concluded (1) that his robbery conviction under Texas
Penal Code § 29.02 constituted a crime of violence and (2) that section 29.02 was a
divisible statute. Defendant contends that it is not a divisible statute and therefore, the
modified categorical approach is inappropriate and should not have been used by the Court
to increase his base offense level under the sentencing guidelines.
The statute of limitations for section 2255 proceedings is extended when "the right
has been newly recognized by the Supreme Court and made retroactively applicable to
cases on collateral review." 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f)(3). If Mathis falls within this exception,
then Defendant's section 2255 motion is timely.
However, the Fifth Circuit has
determined that Mathis did not recognize a new rule of constitutional law that has been
made retroactive to cases on collateral review. In re Lott, 838 F.3d 522, 523 (5th Cir.
2016). Because Mathis does not meet the requirements of section 2255(f)(3), it provides
no basis for holding Defendant's section 2255 motion timely filed. The Government is
entitled to summary judgment dismissal of Defendant's section 2255 motion.
The Government's motion for summary judgment (Docket Entry No. 28) is
GRANTED and Defendant's section 2255 motion for relief (Docket Entry No. 25) is
DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. A certificate of appealability is DENIED. Civil Action
No. H-17-1290 is ORDERED ADMINISTRATIVELY CLOSED.
Signed at Houston, Texas on October 5, 2017.
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