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United States v. Teneng

May 19, 2008

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
STEPHEN AZIA TENENG,



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable David H. Coar

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Before this Court is Petitioner Stephen Azia Teneng's ("Petitioner" or "Teneng") motion to vacate, set aside, or correct a sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §2255. (D.N.J. Case No. 05 C 1359, Docket No. 1; N.D. Ill. Case No. 05 C 7029, Docket No. 9 ("Habeas Pet.").) In a subsequent filing, Petitioner has also requested that this Court recharacterize his petition as one for audita querela, presumably based on the same arguments as those found in his habeas petition (Docket No. 22). For the reasons stated below, Petitioner's motions are DENIED.

1. BACKGROUND

On July 24, 2003, Petitioner entered a plea of guilty to offenses 18 U.S.C. §§ 1542, 1029(a)(2) & 1028(a)(3). At a hearing held December 9, 2003, this Court found that enhancement of the sentence was warranted in light of the fact that Petitioner's actions involved: obstruction of justice; vulnerable victim; abuse of a position of private or public trust; and lack of acceptance of responsibility. After including these enhancements and applying the sentencing guidelines, the Court sentenced Petitioner to seventy-five months of imprisonment.

On January 27, 2004, Petitioner filed a direct appeal to the Seventh Circuit. Petitioner moved to voluntarily dismiss this appeal after the appellate court requested that he explain the basis on which it could assert jurisdiction. This motion was granted on May 25, 2004.

On March 9, 2005, Petitioner filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. (See Habeas Pet.) In that petition, he alleges:

The Court erred in enhancement of my sentence based on facts I did not admit nor were submitted to a Jury and found by a Jury beyond a reasonable doubt. Thus my six [sic] Amendment Right to U.S.

Constitution was violated.

In my case the Court acting by a judge found the enhancement and did not let me admit nor were presented to a Jury violates [sic] the teaching of the six [sic] Amendment to U.S. Constitution that requires that any facts other than prior conviction which is necessary to support a sentence exceeding the maximum authorized by the facts established by a plea of guilty or a Jury verdict must be admitted by the defendant or proved to a Jury beyond a reasonable doubt. (Id. at 4-5.) The District Court in New Jersey held that it lacked jurisdiction to consider the petition because Petitioner had not shown that relief under Section 2255 was "inadequate or ineffective." (See 9/9/05 Opinion (D.N.J. Case No. 05 C 1359, Docket No. 5; N.D. Ill. Case No. 05 C 7029, Docket No. 10 at 10-17).) The district court recharacterized the petition as a Section 2255 motion and transferred the action to the Northern District of Illinois. (See 12/5/05 Order (D.N.J. Case No. 05 C 1359, Docket No. 8-1; N.D. Ill. Case No. 05 C 7029, Docket No. 10 at 21-22).) It was assigned to this Court on December 13, 2005. Petitioner stated that he intends to stand on the grounds set forth in his original petition. (See Letter from Stephen Teneg [sic] dated 1/17/06 (Docket No. 15).)

2. STANDARD

Federal courts may grant a motion attacking a sentence in a federal court by establishing 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 the sentence, or that the sentence was in excess of the statutory maximum, or that it is otherwise subject to collateral attack. 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Federal prisoners can challenge the imposition or length of their detention if their conviction or sentence is based on an error that is "jurisdictional, constitutional, or is a fundamental defect which inherently results in a complete miscarriage of justice." Oliver v. United States, 961 F.2d 1339, 1341 (7th Cir. 1995) (internal quotations and citations omitted). If the reviewing court determines that such a defect exists in the judgment or sentence, it "shall vacate and set the judgment aside and shall discharge the prisoner or resentence him or grant a new trial or correct the sentence as may appear appropriate." Id.

In addition, after reviewing the Petitioner's motion, the government's response, and any record of prior court proceedings, the court will determine whether an evidentiary hearing is required. See Rule 8(a) of the Rules Governing Section 2255 Proceedings. "If it plainly appears from the face of the motion and any annexed exhibits and the prior proceedings in the case that the movant is not entitled to relief in the district court, the [court] shall make an order of summary dismissal." See Rule 4(b) of the Rules Governing Section 2255 Proceedings; see also Liss v. United States, 915 F.2d 287, 290 (7th Cir. 1990). Habeas corpus relief is reserved for extraordinary situations. Prewitt v. United States, 83 F.3d 812, 816 (7th Cir. 1996).

3. ANALYSIS

Petitioner seeks: (1) to have his sentence vacated, set aside, or corrected pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §2255; or (2) to have his petition recharacterized as one for audita querela pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1651, presumably based ...


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