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United States v. Kidd

United States District Court, D. Maryland

March 27, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
JAMES KIDD, Defendant. Civil No. ELH-16-3254

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Ellen L. Hollander United States District Judge

         In a Superseding Indictment (ECF 5) filed on June 25, 2013, James Kidd was charged, inter alia, with carjacking, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2119(1); brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2119(a) and 18 U.S.C. § 924(c); and possession of a firearm and ammunition by a felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). He entered a plea of guilty to carjacking (Count Two) on March 13, 2014 (ECF 31), pursuant to a written plea agreement. ECF 32 ("Plea Agreement"). The offense of conviction carries a maximum sentence of 15 years' imprisonment.

         Notably, Kidd's guilty plea was entered pursuant to Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(c)(1)(C), by which the parties stipulated to a sentence of 180 months' imprisonment. ECF 32, ¶ 7. On September 15, 2014, the Court imposed the agreed upon sentence. ECF 41; ECF 42; ECF 43.

         On September 26, 2016, Kidd filed a Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. ECF 54 ("Petition").[1] Relying on Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2251 (2015), Kidd asserts: "I no longer qualify as a career offender." ECF 54 at 5. In response, the government has moved to dismiss the Petition as untimely. ECF 57 ("Motion"). Mr. Kidd did not reply, and the time to do so has long expired.

         As discussed below, no hearing is necessary to resolve the Petition. And, for the reasons stated, I shall grant the government's Motion.

         I. Factual Background

         In paragraph 6(a) of the Plea Agreement (ECF 32), the defendant stipulated that the facts in Attachment A to the Plea Agreement established that he committed the crimes of carjacking and felon in possession. Notably, the facts reflect that, during the carjacking, Kidd "took out a silver handgun, racked the slide to load the gun, [and] pointed it at the driver . . . ." ECF 32 at 9. In Paragraph 6(b) of the Plea Agreement (ECF 32), Kidd agreed that he qualified as a "Career Offender." Kidd also agreed that "an upward variance is appropriate in light of the dismissed counts." ECF 32, ¶ 6(f).

         The Amended Presentence Report ("PSR, " ECF 44) reflects that Kidd had a total of 24 criminal history points. ECF 44, ¶ 52. Therefore, he had a criminal history category of VI. ECF 44, ¶ 52.

         Two of the prior offenses are particularly relevant. One was for the offense of distribution of heroin and the other for armed robbery. These offenses are discussed, infra. Based on these offenses, Kidd qualified as a Career Offender under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1. ECF 44, ¶¶ 24, 53. As a Career Offender, he also had a criminal history category of VI. Id. ¶ 53.

         Kidd's final adjusted offense level was 26. Id. ¶ 26. With a criminal history category of VI, Kidd's advisory sentencing guidelines called for a period of imprisonment ranging from 120 to 150 months of imprisonment. ECF 44, ¶ 63.[2] As noted, under the terms of the "C Plea, " the Court imposed a sentence of 180 months.

         Judgment was entered on September 15, 2014. ECF 42. No appeal was taken. See Docket.

         II. Discussion

         A.

         Section 2255(a) of Title 28 of the United States Code, under which Kidd filed his Petition, provides relief to a prisoner in federal custody only on specific grounds: that the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States; that the court was without jurisdiction to impose such a sentence; that the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law; or that the sentence is otherwise subject to collateral attack.

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255(b), the court must hold a hearing "[u]nless the motion and the files and records conclusively show that the prisoner is entitled to no relief. . . ." See, e.g., United States v. White, 366 F.3d 291, 302 (4th Cir. 2004). Courts have determined that a hearing is not necessary where "the motion . . . fail[s] to allege sufficient facts or circumstances upon which the elements of constitutionally deficient performance might properly be found [or] where the defendant has failed to present any affidavits or other evidentiary support for the naked assertions contained in his motion." United States v. Taylor, 139 F.3d 924, 933 (D.C. Cir. 1998) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted); accord United States v. McGill, 11 F.3d 223, 225-26 (1st Cir. 1993). On the other hand, a hearing is generally "required when a movant presents a colorable Sixth Amendment claim showing disputed material facts and a credibility determination is necessary to resolve this issue." United States v. Robertson, 219 Fed.App'x 286, 286 (4th Cir. 2007); see also United States v. Ray, 547 Fed.App'x 343, 345 (4th Cir. 2013).

         In reviewing the Petition, the Court is mindful that a self-represented litigant is generally "held to a 'less stringent standard' than is a lawyer, and the Court must liberally construe his claims, no matter how 'inartfully' pled." Morrison v. United States, RDB-12-3607, 2014 WL 979201, at *2 (D. Md. Mar. 12, 2014) (internal citations omitted); see also Erickson v. Pardus,551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Haines v. Kerner,404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972) (stating that claims of self-represented litigants are held "to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers"); Bala v. Commonwealth of Virginia Dep't of ...


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