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Jackson v. United States

April 6, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jeanne E. Scott, U.S. District Judge


This matter is before the Court on Petitioner Keenan L. Jackson's Motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence (d/e 1) (Petition) and Jackson's Motion to Amend Pleading Pursuant to Rule 15(A) (d/e 8) (Motion to Amend). For the reasons set forth below, the Petition and the Motion to Amend are denied.

On April 5, 2002, Jackson was charged in a one count Indictment (Case No. 02-30028, d/e 4) with knowingly and intentionally possessing 50 or more grams of a mixture or substance containing cocaine base (crack) with intent to distribute it in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) & (b)(1)(A). On June 4, 2002, Jackson, through counsel, filed a Motion to Suppress (Case No. 02-30028, d/e 10). Judge Richard Mills denied the Motion to Suppress, without holding a hearing, by Order dated August 1, 2002 (Case No. 02-30028, d/e 14). Jackson filed a request for reconsideration, which the Court allowed. The Court then held a limited evidentiary hearing on Jackson's Motion to Suppress. Following the hearing, the Court denied the Motion to Suppress. Jackson informed the Court that he wished to enter a conditional guilty plea, reserving his right to appeal the denial of his motion to suppress. The matter was referred to Magistrate Judge Cudmore for Report and Recommendation on the change of plea. Upon Judge Cudmore's recommendation, Judge Mills accepted Jackson's guilty plea on September 13, 2002.

Jackson was sentenced on December 16, 2002. A Revised Presentence Report (Case No. 02-30028, d/e 25) (PSR) was prepared by the United States Probation Office in anticipation of sentencing. The PSR recommended that Jackson be classified as a career offender under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1. According to the PSR, Jackson had a prior felony conviction involving the distribution of controlled substances and a prior violent felony conviction for robbery. The PSR recommended that Jackson receive a three-level reduction in offense level for acceptance of responsibility, resulting in a recommended total offense level of 34. The PSR assessed ten criminal history points, which would result in a criminal history category of V. However, as a career offender, Jackson would fall into criminal history category VI.

At sentencing, Jackson, through defense counsel Ralph Williams, objected to the PSR's career offender classification. The Court overruled Jackson's objection, after reviewing state court records relating to the predicate offenses, and adopted the findings of the PSR. With an offense level of 34 and a criminal history category VI, the applicable sentencing range was 262 to 327 months imprisonment. Jackson was sentenced to 262 months imprisonment. Jackson appealed the denial of his Motion to Suppress to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, which affirmed the District Court's decision. United States v. Jackson, 377 F.3d 715 (7th Cir. 2004).

Jackson then filed the pending Petition. In the Petition, Jackson asserts that (1) his Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial was violated when Judge Mills "determined facts and sentence alone without jury" and (2) he was deprived his right to effective assistance of counsel. Petition, p. 5. Jackson's ineffective assistance of counsel claim is based on alleged deficiencies of trial counsel relating to the Motion to Suppress and Jackson's guilty plea. The matter was transferred to this Judge by Text Order, dated April 6, 2006. The Court directed the Government to respond to the Petition, which it has done. See Government's Response to Petitioner's Motion Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (d/e 5) (Response). On October 31, 2006, Petitioner filed his Motion to Amend, asserting that the sentencing judge erred in classifying him as a career offender.


A. Motion to Amend

The Court turns first to Jackson's Motion to Amend, which was dated October 10, 2006 and filed by the Clerk on October 31, 2006. Jackson seeks to amend his Petition, asserting that the two prior convictions relied upon by the Court in determining his career offender status were uncounseled pleas that fail to qualify as crimes of violence or controlled substance offenses under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1(a)(3). Jackson's request to amend was filed after the Government filed its response to his Petition. Under such circumstances, Rule 15(a) provides, "a party may amend the party's pleading only by leave of court or by written consent of the adverse party; and leave shall be freely given when justice so requires." Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a).*fn1

The Government has not consented to the amendment. Furthermore, it is clear from the record that Jackson's proposed amendment would be futile, and the Court, therefore, denies his request for leave to amend. The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA) establishes a one-year statute of limitations for § 2255 claims. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). The applicable portion of AEDPA provides that the one-year statute of limitations shall run from "the date on which the judgment of conviction becomes final." 28 U.S.C. § 2255, ¶ 6(1). Jackson did not file a petition for certiorari with the Supreme Court on direct review; therefore, his judgment of conviction became final on the date at which the time for seeking such review expired. Clay v. United States, 537 U.S. 522, 525 (2003). The Seventh Circuit entered Judgment in Jackson's direct appeal on July 28, 2004. See Mandate (Case No. 02-30028, d/e 59). Jackson's conviction became final ninety days later. See Sup. Ct. R. 13(1). Jackson's Motion to Amend was filed in October 2006, nearly two years after his conviction became final. Therefore, in order for Jackson's proffered supplemental claim to be timely, it must "relate back" to his original Petition, which was timely filed.

The relation back of amendments is governed by Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(c). The only relation-back provision that would be potentially applicable to the instant case is found at Rule 15(c)(2), which provides that an amendment relates back to the date of the original pleading when "the claim or defense asserted in the amended pleading arose out of the conduct, transaction, or occurrence set forth or attempted to be set forth in the original pleading." The Supreme Court addressed the meaning of Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(c)(2)'s relation-back provision in the context of federal habeas proceedings and AEDPA's one-year statute of limitations in Mayle v. Felix. Mayle, 545 U.S. 644 (2005). The Mayle Court held that when a habeas petitioner seeks to amend his petition after AEDPA's one-year time limit has passed, the amended petition does not relate back, thereby escaping AEDPA's time bar, when it asserts a new ground for relief "supported by facts that differ in both time and type from those the original pleading set forth." Id. at 650. The Mayle Court expressly rejected the petitioner's request to interpret "same conduct, transaction, or occurrence" to mean same "trial, conviction, or sentence." Id. at 664.

Jackson's proffered supplemental claim asserts a new ground for relief, based on a set of facts distinct from those raised in his Petition. Jackson's Petition asserts claims relating to his Motion to Suppress and his plea. Specifically, all of the supporting facts set out in Ground 1 of Jackson's Petition, his Sixth Amendment claim, relate to the Motion to Suppress. Furthermore, Jackson's ineffective assistance of counsel claim alleges deficiencies of trial counsel relating to the Motion to Suppress and the plea. In the Motion to Amend, Jackson seeks relief based on alleged errors relating to the application of the career offender enhancement at his sentencing. This claim does not arise out of any conduct, transaction, or occurrence set forth in Jackson's original Petition. Jackson's Motion to Amend is denied as futile because his proffered supplemental claim would be untimely.*fn2 The Court turns its analysis to the claims raised in Jackson's Petition.

B. § 2255 Petition

A § 2255 motion allows a person in federal custody to attack his sentence collaterally on constitutional grounds, because it is otherwise illegal, or because the court that imposed it was without jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 2255, ¶ 1. Jackson's Petition raises two grounds for relief. This Court must determine whether Jackson is entitled to an evidentiary hearing on any of his claims. Section 2255 Rule 8(a). Under Seventh Circuit precedent, "[a] § 2255 petitioner is entitled to an evidentiary hearing on his claims when he alleges facts that, if proven would entitle him to relief." Stoia v. United States, 22 F.3d 766, 768 (7th Cir. 1994). However, before he is entitled to an evidentiary hearing, Jackson bears the burden of filing a ...

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