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Martin v. United States

United States District Court, D. Maryland

April 3, 2018




         On March 19, 2018, Shelly Wayne Martin filed this Motion for Relief from Judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b). (ECF No. 819). The Motion will be treated as a Motion to Vacate, Set Aside or Correct Sentence under 28 U.S.C. 92255, and DISMISSED without prejudice.


         Martin was convicted of two counts of racketeering conspiracy after a 36 day jury trial. He was sentenced to concurrent 400 month sentences by Judge Andre M. Davis on March 30, 2009. [1] On appeal, his conviction was affirmed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Uniled Slales v. Marlin, CA No. 09-4359 (4th Cir. 2011).

         On September 27, 201,, Martin filed a Motion to Vacate under 28 U.S.C. 92255, which was denied on the merits by Judge J. Frederick Motz. Marlin v. United Slates, Civil Action No. JFM-12-2890 (D. Md. 2013). The Fourth Circuit denied a Certificate of Appealability and dismissed Martinss appeal. United Slales v. Marlin. CA4 No. 13-6697 (4th Cir. 2013). Martin later filed a "Motion under the Declaratory Judgment Act of 28 U.S.C. 92201, " collaterally attacking his sentence, and it was dismissed without prejudice as an unauthorized successive S2255 Motion. Martin v. United States, Civil Action No. JFM-16-109 (D. Md. 2016). [2]


         A motion filed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) that "seeks to add a new ground for relief or "attacks the federal court's previous resolution of a claim on the merits" is in fact a second or successive petition for writ of habeas corpus. See Gonzales v. Crosby. 545 U.S. 524, 532, (2005.. In United States v. Winestock, 340 F.3d 200, 206-07 (4th Cir. 2003), the Fourth Circuit distinguished between a Rule 60(b) motion and a 28 U.S.C. S 2255 motion, explaining that a motion directly attacking the prisoner's conviction or sentence will usually amount to a successive application, while a motion seeking a remedy for some defect in the collateral review process will generally be deemed a proper motion to reconsider. ld. at 207. A petitioner may not evade the procedural requiremenss for successive S 2255 motions by attaching other titles to his filings. See Calderon v. Thompson, 523 U.S. 538, 553 (1998); see also Castro v. United States, 540 U.S. 375, 382-83 (2003) (noting a court may recharacteriee a pro se litigantss pleading to "create a better correspondenee between the substance of the claim and its underlying legal basis"). "Federal courts sometimes will ignore the legal label that a pro se litigant attaches to a motion and recharacterize the motion in order to place it within a different legal category." Castro, 540 U.S. at 381.

         Here, Martin disputes the guidelines that were applied to calculate his sentences. He asserts: ''Despite the [j]ury verdict, the Court applied the U.S.S.G S 2El.l(a) (2) cross reference to the 2A1.1 guideline for first degree murder which place[d) the Movant's advisory guideline range to 43, which is significanlly higher than the guideline range of approximately 34 which he would face for the drug quantities found by the jury." (ECF No. 819 at 5). But for the application of the "g 2E1I1(a) (2) cross reference to the movant would not have been subjected to the advisory guideline range that calls for up to life imprisonment." (ECF No. 819 at 6). Martin asserts that in light of Nelson v. Colorado, 137 S.Ct. 1249, 1252 (April 19, 2017), "and its Constitutional directive that a defendant has the Right to be presumed innocent absent a finding of guilt, the Judgment whereby the movant is sentenced to four hundred (400) months imprisonment should be vacated." (ECF No. 819 at 6).

         In Nelson, the Supreme Court considered whether the State is required to refund fees, court costs and restitution exacted from the defendant as a consequence of conviction after that conviction is invalidated and it is determined no trial will occur. [d. The Court concluded that a Colorado state law violated due process where that Jaw required defendanss whose convictions have been reversed or vacated to additionally prove their innocence in a subsequent civil proceeding by clear and convincing evidence in order to obtain a refund of ftinds paid to the state, including restitution payments. Nelson, 137 S.Ct. at 125-58.

         Contrary to Martinss assertions, the presumption of innocence is not a newly amiounced substantive rule of law. (ECF No. 819 at 7-8), It is beyond argument that the presumpiion of a defendant's innocence at trial is a fundamental pillar of criminal law in this country. Taylor v. Kentucky. 436 U.S. 478, 483 (1978), quoting Coffm v United States, 156 U.S. 432, 453 (1895) ("The principle that there is a presumption of innocence in favor of the accused is the undoubted law, axiomaiic and elementary, and its enforcement lies at the foundation of the administration of our criminal law."). The remaining issues addressed in Nelson have no application to Martinss sentence or conviction.


         Although styled as a Rule 60(b) Motion, it is clear that Martm is challenging the legality of his federal criminal sentence, not the collateral review process. Accordingly, the Motion is properly construed as a successive S 2255 petition, rather than a Rule 60(b) motion. As a successive S 2255 motion, it may not be considered by this Court without authorizaiion from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. See 28 U.S.C. SS 2244(b)(3)(A), 2255; In re Vial, 115 F.3d 1192, 1197-98 (4th Cir. 1997) (en banc). Martin has not received the proper certification from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Consequently, this Court may not consider the merits of the claim.

         II. RULE 60 (b)

         Even if this Court were to consider Martinss claims under Rule 60(b), they would prove unavailing. To support a motion for relief under Rule 60(b), Martin must show "timelines,, a meritorious defense, a lack of unfair prejudice to the opposing party, and exceptional circumstances." Hale v. Belton Assoc, Inc., 305 Fed.Appx. 987, 988 (4th Cir. 2009) (quoting Dowell v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Auto. Ins. Co.,993 F.2d 46, 48 (4th Cir. 1993)). He must then show reason to justify relief. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b)(6). As the moving party, he "must clearly establish the grounds ... to the satisfaction of the district court, " and those grounds "must be clearly substantiated by adequate proof." In re Burnley,988 F.2d 1, 3 (4th Cir. 1992) (citations omitted). Rule 60(b) provides a remedy that "is extraordinary and is only to be invoked upon a showing of ...

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