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Hoult v. United States

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Springfield Division

September 27, 2016

JOSEPH W. HOULT, Petitioner,



         This cause is before the Court on Petitioner Joseph W. Hoult's Motion Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody (d/e 1). A hearing on the Motion is not required because “the motion, files, and records of the case conclusively show that the prisoner is entitled to no relief.” Hutchings v. United States, 618 F.3d 693, 699-700 (7th Cir. 2010) (quotation omitted). Specifically, while a claim under Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2251 (2015) would be timely, Petitioner does not have a cognizable Johnson claim. Petitioner's remaining claims are untimely. Therefore, the Section 2255 Motion is DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In August 2012, Petitioner was charged by indictment with six counts of distribution of child pornography, six counts of receipt of child pornography, and one count of possession of child pornography. See United States v. Joseph W. Hoult, Central District Illinois, Urbana Division, Case No. 12-20053 (hereinafter Case No. 12-20053), Indictment (d/e 6). On June 21, 2013, Petitioner entered an open plea of guilty to all 13 counts of the Indictment before United States Magistrate Judge David G. Bernthal. Case No. 12-20053, June 21, 2013 Text Order. Judge Bernthal prepared a Report and Recommendation recommending that the plea of guilty be accepted. Case No. 12-20053 (d/e 18). On July 16, 2013, Senior United States District Judge Michael P. McCuskey approved the recommendation of the magistrate judge, accepted the guilty plea, and adjudged Petitioner guilty of the offenses. Case No. 12-20053 (d/e 20).

         The Probation Office prepared a Revised Presentence Investigation Report (PSR). Case No. 12-20053, PSR (d/e 29). The probation officer determined that the base offense level for Petitioner's offenses was 22. Id. ¶ 26. Petitioner received a two-level enhancement due to the age of the children depicted (U.S.S.G. § 2G2.2(b)(2)); a five-level enhancement for distribution in exchange for additional child pornography (U.S.S.G. § 2G2.2(b)(3)(B)); a four-level enhancement for material displaying violence (U.S.S.G. § 2G2.2(b)(4)); and a five-level enhancement for having 600 or more images (U.S.S.G. § 2G2.2(b)(7)(D)). Id. ¶¶ 27-30. After a reduction for acceptance of responsibility, Petitioner's total offense level was 35. Id. ¶¶ 36-38. In addition, Petitioner had a total criminal history score of 17, which established a criminal history category of VI. Id. ¶¶ 49-50.

         Based on a total offense level of 35 and a criminal history category of VI, the guideline imprisonment range was 292 to 365 months. Case No. 12-20053, PSR ¶ 85. However, the statutory maximum sentence was 240 months on Counts 1 through 12 and 120 months on Count 13. Id. ¶¶ 85, 86. Therefore, the guideline range on Counts 1 through 12 was 240 months and the guideline range on Count 13 was 120 months. Id.

         Defense counsel did not object to the PSR. Case No. 12-20053, December 20, 2013 Minute Entry. Judge McCuskey adopted the PSR without change. See Statement of Reasons (d/e 34).

         Judge McCuskey sentenced Petitioner to 200 months' imprisonment on Counts 1 through 12 and 120 months' imprisonment on Count 13, all to run concurrently. Case No. 12-20053, Judgment (d/e 32). Judge McCuskey also imposed a life term of supervised release on all counts, to run concurrently. Id. Petitioner did not file a direct appeal.

         On June 16, 2016, Petitioner placed his Section 2255 Motion in the prison mailing system. See Motion (d/e 1). The Motion was filed on June 23, 2016. Because of Judge McCuskey's retirement from his position as a District Court Judge, the case has been assigned to this Court.

         II. ANALYSIS

         Petitioner raises three grounds for relief in his Motion. First, Petitioner argues that, in light of Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015), he was sentenced under a higher guideline range than he should have been. Section 2255 Motion (d/e1) (Ground One). Second, Petitioner argues that the sentencing guideline enhancements under United States Sentencing Guidelines “§ 2G2” and “§ 2G1” are unconstitutional. Id. (Ground Two). Finally, Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel because his trial counsel failed to file a timely notice of appeal to raise the claim that Petitioner's sentence was unreasonable in light of the “§ 2G1” and “§ 2G2” enhancements. Id. (Ground Three).

         The United States has filed a response asking that the Court deny Petitioner's claims because (1) any of Petitioner's claims that are not based on the United States Supreme Court's decision in Johnson are untimely and (2) Petitioner's purported Johnson claim fails on the merits because Petitioner was not sentenced under the Armed Career Criminal Act or as a career offender under the Guidelines. Resp. at 1 n.1, 7, 9 n.10, 10-12 n.12. Petitioner did not file a reply despite being given an opportunity to do so.

         A one-year period of limitation applies to § 2255 petitions. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f). The one-year ...

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