United States District Court, D. Maryland
J. MESSITTE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Michael Sappleton has filed a third Motion to Reduce
Sentence, under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 and a fourth Motion to
Vacate under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. See ECF Nos.
271, 276. The Court has considered the Motions and
the Government's Oppositions. For the reasons described
below, the Court DENIES both Motions.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
2, 2002, a jury found Sappleton guilty of conspiracy to
distribute and possess with the intent to distribute five
kilograms or more of cocaine, fifty grams or more of cocaine
base, and 100 kilograms or more of marijuana in violation of
21 U.S.C. § 846, as well as possession of ammunition by
a convicted felon in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922. ECF
No. 288 at 1. Determining him to be a career offender
pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1, the Court sentenced
Sappleton to a mandatory term of life imprisonment due to his
two prior drug convictions. Id. at 2. Sappleton
appealed his sentence to the Fourth Circuit, which affirmed
this Court's decision. His judgment became final on
October 28, 2003. Id.
November 17, 2004, Sappleton filed his first Motion to
Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence under 28 U.S.C. §
2255, which the Court denied. ECF No. 196. The Fourth Circuit
denied his authorization to file a successive motion.
Id. In February 2011, Sappleton filed a motion under
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 60(b)(3), which the
Court construed as a second or successive motion under 28
U.S.C. § 2255 and also denied. ECF No. 243.
filed a third 28 U.S.C. § 2255 Motion to Reduce Sentence
on November 6, 2014. ECF No. 271. The Court granted the
Government's Motion to Stay Proceedings at that point
pending the Fourth Circuit's decisions in U.S. v.
Whiteside, 748 F.3d 541 (4th Cir. 2015) and U.S. v.
Foote, 784 F.3d 931 (4th Cir. 2015). Id. at
2-3. In the meantime, Sappleton filed a fourth identical 28
U.S.C. § 2255 Motion to Vacate Sentence on December 5,
2014. ECF No. 276. The Government then filed a second Motion
to Stay Proceedings on January 8, 2015, which the Court
granted. ECF No. 279. The Fourth Circuit decided
Whiteside and Foote cases on April 8, 2014
and April 27, 2015 respectively, and the stay in the present
case was lifted. The Court now considers Sappleton's
third and fourth 28 U.S.C. § 2255 Motions.
28 U.S.C. § 2255, “[a] second or successive motion
must be certified as provided in § 2244 by a panel of
the appropriate court of appeals to contain” either
newly discovered evidence that establishes the prisoner's
innocence, or a new rule of law made retrospective by the
Supreme Court. 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Under 28 U.S.C. §
2244, “[b]efore a second or successive application
permitted by this section is filed in the district court, the
applicant shall move in the appropriate court of appeals for
an order authorizing the district court to consider the
application.” 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(3)(A). Absent
proper certification from the court of appeals, the district
court may not consider a petitioner's second or
successive petition. U.S. v. Winestock, 340 F.3d
200, 205 (4th Cir. 2003) (“In the absence of pre-filing
authorization, the district court lacks jurisdiction to
consider an application containing abusive or repetitive
claims.”). The certification requirement applies to all
of the claims in the 28 U.S.C. § 2255 Motion,
“including those that would not be subject to the
limits on successive applications if presented
has filed two 28 U.S.C. § 2255 motions in the past and
has not obtained certification from the Fourth Circuit to
file these third and fourth petitions. Without such
certifications, the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction
to consider the merits of the subsequent petitions.
11(a) under the Federal Rules Governing 28 U.S.C. § 2255
requires the Court to “issue or deny a certificate of
appealability when it enters a final order adverse to the
applicant.” Fed.R.Gov. § 2255 Proc. 11(a). A
certificate of appealability will not issue absent “a
substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional
right.” 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2); Miller-El v.
Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 327 (2002); Slack v.
McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 474 (2000). The Court has
reviewed pleadings and the record in this case. It finds that
Sappleton has not made the requisite showing here.
this reason, Sappleton's Motion to Reduce Sentence, ECF
No. 271, and Motion to Vacate ...