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Sample v. United States

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

December 26, 2013

GEORGE L. SAMPLE, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

J. PHIL GILBERT, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on petitioner George L. Sample's motion to vacate, set aside or correct sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (Doc. 1). For the following reasons, the Court denies Sample's motion.

1. Background

Sample pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five grams or more of crack cocaine. See United States v. Sample, Case No. 05-cr-40043-JPG. At sentencing, the Court found by a preponderance of the evidence that Sample's relevant conduct was at least 3, 000 kilograms but less than 10, 000 kilograms of marijuana equivalency units, which under United States Sentencing Guideline Manual ("U.S.S.G.") § 2D1.1 yielded a base offense level of 33. No adjustments were made to that level. With an offense level of 33 and criminal history category of IV, Sample's sentencing range was 188 to 235 months. The government, however, filed an enhancement pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 851 subjecting Sample to a twenty-year mandatory minimum. See 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A). Consequently, pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 5G1.1(b), Sample's guideline sentence became 240 months. The undersigned Judge sentenced Sample to 240 months imprisonment and judgment was entered on November 20, 2006. Sample did not file a direct appeal

Thereafter, Sample filed a motion for a sentence reduction pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) (Doc. 169) and United States Sentencing Guidelines Manual ("U.S.S.G.") § 1B1.10. This Court appointed Sample counsel. Counsel filed a motion to withdraw and a "no merits" statement asserting she could make no non-frivolous arguments in support of Sample's request. See Anders v. California, 386 U.S. 738, 744 (1967). The Court granted counsel's motion to withdraw and denied Sample's motion for a sentence reduction finding that he could not establish that he was "sentenced to a term of imprisonment based on a sentencing range that has subsequently been lowered by the Sentencing Commission pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 994(o)."[1] 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2). Specifically, Sample was sentenced based on a statutory minimum rather than relevant conduct amounts. His sentence under both the old and amended guidelines would have been twenty years.

Presently before the Court is Sample's § 2255 motion, filed September 11, 2013, in which he argues that (1) his crack-cocaine sentence is in violation of his equal protection rights and (2) "the government failed to comply with 11(c)1(C) of the plea agreement." The Court will consider each argument in turn.

2. Analysis

The Court must grant a § 2255 motion when a defendant's "sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 2255. However, "[h]abeas corpus relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 is reserved for extraordinary situations." Prewitt v. United States, 83 F.3d 812, 816 (7th Cir. 1996). "Relief under § 2255 is available only for errors of constitutional or jurisdictional magnitude, or where the error represents a fundamental defect which inherently results in a complete miscarriage of justice." Kelly v. United States, 29 F.3d 1107, 1112 (7th Cir. 1994) (quotations omitted). It is proper to deny a § 2255 motion without an evidentiary hearing if "the motion and the files and records of the case conclusively demonstrate that the prisoner is entitled to no relief." 28 U.S.C. § 2255(b); see Sandoval v. United States, 574 F.3d 847, 850 (7th Cir. 2009).

Prisoners used to be able to file motions under § 2255 at any time during their sentences. However, on April 24, 1996, Congress enacted the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act ("AEDPA"), Pub. L. No. 104-132, tit. I, § 106 (codified at 28 U.S.C. §§ 2244(a) & (b), 2255), which added a one-year limitations period for a motion attacking a sentence. The one-year limitations period runs from the latest of four events:

(1) the date on which the judgment of conviction becomes final;
(2) the date on which the impediment to making a motion created by governmental action in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States is removed, if the movant was prevented from making a motion by such governmental action;
(3) the date on which the right asserted was initially recognized by the Supreme Court, if that right has been newly recognized by the Supreme Court and made retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review; or
(4) the date on which the facts supporting the claim or claims presented could have been discovered through the exercise of due diligence.

28 U.S.C. § 2255(f). Where a petitioner does not file a direct appeal, the statute of limitations bars any § 2255 action commenced one year and ten days after sentencing. 28 U.S.C. § 2255; Fed. R. App. P. 4 (appeal in a ...


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