United States District Court, D. Maryland
JACK BRUCE JOHNSON, SR. Plaintiff
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Defendant Civil No. PJM 16-654
J. MESSITTE UNITED STATE DISTRICT JUDGE.
Bruce Johnson, Sr. has filed a Motion to Vacate, Set Aside,
or Correct Sentence, under 28 U.S.C. S 2255. ECF No.63. The
Court has considered the Motion and the Government's
Opposition. For the reasons described below, the Court
DENIES the Motion.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
February 14, 2011, a grand jury returned an eight-count
indictment against Johnson stemming from his illegal
activities while serving as the County Executive for Prince
George's County, Maryland. ECF No. 17. On May 17, 201,,
Johnson entered into an agreement with the Government, in
which he pleaded guilty to extortion, in violation of 18
U.S.C. S 1951 (Count 2) and witness and evidence tampering,
violation of 18 U.S.C. S 1512(b)(2)(B) (Count 8). ECF No. 26.
All other charges were dropped. On May 17, 2011, following a
colloquy with Johnson in open court, the Court accepted the
plea agreement.. ld.
December 14, 2011, the Court sentenced Johnson to 87 months
in custody, to be followed by three years of supervised
release. ECF No. 50. Johnson waived his right to appeal in
the plea agreement.. ECF No. 27.
four and one-half years later, on March 8, 2016, Johnson
filed the present Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct
Sentence. ECF No. 63. He argues that he is eligible for
relief on account of newly discovered evidence related to
three "offensive and hate-filled" letters he and
his family received in 2010 and 2011. Id. at 4. The
mailings contained crude language and racial slurs directed
towards Johnson and referenced the crimes to which he pleaded
guilty. Id. at 8. Johnson believes and alleges that
members of the Prince George's County Police Department
(PGCPD), who were part of a federal task force investigating
his crimes, were the authors of the letters. Id. His
evidence for this proposition includes the statement that one
of the letters was mailed in an official Prince George's
County Government stationery envelope. Id. at 9-10.
Another of the letters referenced two PGCPD officers Johnson
prosecuted during his time as the State's Attorney for
Prince George's County, an office he held prior to
becoming County Executive. Id. at 9.
submits that in 2015, an independent scientific laboratory
retained by him tested traces of saliva on the back flap of
the three envelopes in which the letters were delivered.
Id. at 10. The tests indicated that a single male
had sent two of the letters, one of which was the one sent in
what appeared to be an official Prince Georgess County
Government stationery envelope. A separate individual
purportedly sent the third letter. Id. at 11 From
this, Johnson concludes that a Prince George's County
employee, likely a PGCPD officer, sent the two letters.
Id. at 12.
asserts that the DNA test's conclusions constitute new
evidence suggesting a lack of integrity in the criminal
investigation that supported the investigators"
application for Title III wiretaps in his case which, in
turn, produced a significant amount of the evidence against
him. Id. at 13. He contends that he would not have
entered into his plea agreement had he known that the DNA
tests would reveal that the investigation was tainted.
Id. at 12. The Government submits that Johnson's
claim is meritless. ECF No. 68 at 6.
28 U.S.C. 92255 establishes a one-year statute of limitations
a post-conviction petition from the latest of:
(I) the date on which a 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 the 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.
on 28 U.S.C. 9 2255(1)(2), Johnson argues that limitations
should run from March 1L 2015, because that was "the
moment which it became possible to trace the suspected law
enforcement-related wrongdoing back to the
perpetrators." ECF No. 63 at 18. Alternatively he
argues, pursuant to 9 28 U.S.C. 92255(1)(4), that limitations
should run from October 13, 2015. because that was "the
date in which [Johnson] received the DNA testing results from
a third envelope.'" Id. The Government
counters that the appropriate date when limitations began to
run was December 28, 20I1. fourteen days after the Court
filed its judgment, when Johnson failed to note on appeal and
his conviction became final. ECF No. 68 at 7. See
Fed. R. App. P. 4(b)(l)(A) (requiring that a defendant file a
notice of appeal within fourteen days of the entry of
judgment). The deadline for Johnson to file a timely 28
U.S.C. 92255 motion, according to the Government, was
December 28, 2012. ECF No. 68 at 7.
Court agrees with the Government that limitations began to
run from the date Johnson's conviction became final
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ...