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United States v. Hrobowski

August 8, 2008

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
PATRICK HROBOWSKI



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Samuel Der-yeghiayan, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter is before the court on Petitioner Patrick Hrobowski's ("Hrobowski") motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 ("Section 2255 Motion"). This matter is also before the court on Hrobowski's "Motion for Summary Disposition" of his Section 2255 Motion. (Mot. Sum. Disp. 1). For the reasons stated below, we deny Hrobowski's Section 2255 Motion in its entirety. We also deny Hrobowski's Motion for Summary Disposition.

BACKGROUND

Hrobowski was charged in federal court with being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) ("Section 922(g)(1)") and with knowingly possessing a firearm with an obliterated serial number in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(k). Hrobowski was convicted on both counts by a jury on March 8, 2006. Hrobowski filed an appeal with the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and on June 26, 2007, the Seventh Circuit affirmed Hrobowski's convictions.

On March 11, 2008, Hrobowski filed the instant pro se Section 2255 Motion. The Government filed a response to Hrobowski's motion on April 2, 2008, and on May 27, 2008, Hrobowski replied with his pro se "Motion for Summary Disposition." (Mot. Sum. Disp. 1).

LEGAL STANDARD

Section 2255 provides, in part, the following:

A prisoner in custody under sentence of a court established by Act of Congress claiming the right to be released upon the ground 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, may move the court which imposed the sentence to vacate, set aside or correct the sentence.

28 U.S.C. § 2255; see also Fountain v. United States, 211 F.3d 429, 433 (7th Cir. 2000)(stating that "a § 2255 motion must be granted when a defendant's 'sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States'")(quoting in part 28 U.S.C. § 2255). The relief sought pursuant to Section 2255 "is an extraordinary remedy because it asks the district court essentially to reopen the criminal process to a person who already has had an opportunity for full process." Almonacid v. United States, 476 F.3d 518, 521 (7th Cir. 2007). A Section 2255 motion "is not a substitute for direct appeal" and "[c]laims not raised on direct appeal are barred from collateral review unless upon review [the court is] convinced that a failure to consider the issue would amount to a fundamental miscarriage of justice." Fountain, 211 F.3d at 433-34 (stating that "[i]neffective assistance of counsel claims will generally fit into this mold; they generally are not appropriate for review on direct appeal as they often attempt to rely on evidence outside the record").

DISCUSSION

In Hrobowksi's Section 2255 Motion, he asserts four grounds upon which he claims that his sentence violated the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States: (1) that Congress lacked the legislative jurisdiction to pass Section 922(g)(1) into law, (2) that Hrobowski's trial counsel was ineffective due to the fact that counsel failed to advance the argument that the firearm had lost its interstate commerce character, (3) that the district court lacked the jurisdiction to try, convict, and sentence Hrobowski due to the fact that Title 18 of the United States Code ("Title 18") is unconstitutional, and (4) that the district court erred in failing to allow Hrobowski to fully articulate his objections after his sentence was pronounced. The Government argues that Hrobowski's motion is without merit.

I. Constitutionality of Section 922(g)(1)

Hrobowski first argues that Congress used its Commerce Clause authority in an unconstitutional manner when passing Section 922(g)(1) into law. Hrobowski points to Supreme Court precedent striking down certain other statutes that the Court found were not "sufficiently tied to interstate commerce." (Mot. 4); United States v. Morrison, 529 U.S. 598, 613 (2000)(holding that the Violence Against Women Act was unconstitutional); United States v. Lopez, 514 U.S. 549, 567 (1995)(holding that the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990 exceeded congressional authority because it reached conduct that did not substantially affect interstate commerce). Hrobowski argues that Section 922(g)(1), likewise, is not sufficiently tied to interstate commerce and that Section 922(g)(1) should be invalidated.

Hrobowski's comparison between Section 922(g)(1) and other statutes that have been struck down by the Supreme Court based on Commerce Clause challenges, is misplaced. The Supreme Court has indicated that Congress does have jurisdiction to enact a statute when such a statute has a jurisdictional element that ties the statute to exclusively to interstate commerce. See Lopez, 514 U.S. at 555 (stating that "[a]ctivities that affected interstate commerce directly were within Congress' power"). In contrast to the invalidated statutes cited by Hrobowski, Section 922(g)(1) contains a jurisdictional element that is tied ...


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