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Brooks v. United States

United States District Court, D. Maryland

April 19, 2018

WAYNE BROOKS, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Richard D. Bennett United States District Judge

         The pro se Petitioner Wayne Brooks ("Petitioner" or "Brooks") pled guilty before this Court to Possession with Intent to Distribute Cocaine, 28 Grams or more of Cocaine Base, and Heroin, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841. (ECF No. 18.) On July 13, 2015, this Court sentenced Petitioner to one hundred and thirteen (113) months of imprisonment, pursuant to Rule 11(c)(1)(C) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. (ECF No. 28.) Presently before this Court is Petitioner's Motion to Vacate, Set Aside or Correct Sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (ECF No. 40). For the following reasons, Petitioner's Motion to Vacate, Set Aside or Correct Sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (ECF No. 40) is DENIED.

         BACKGROUND

         On April 14, 2015, Brooks pled guilty to Possession with Intent to Distribute Cocaine, 28 Grams or more of Cocaine Base, and Heroin, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841. (ECF Nos. 18, 19.) The plea agreement included a Rule 11(c)(1)(C) provision whereby Petitioner and the Government agreed that one hundred and thirteen (113) months of imprisonment was appropriate. (ECF No. 19.) Subsequently on July 13, 2015, this Court sentenced Brooks to 113 months of imprisonment. (ECF No. 28.) Brooks did not appeal his conviction or sentence. Over a year later, on August 29, 2016, Brooks filed the present Motion to vacate under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. (ECF No. 40.) On January 30, 2018, the Government responded, arguing that the Motion to Vacate should be denied because it is time-barred.[1] (ECF No. 44.)

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         This Court recognizes that Petitioner is pro se and has accorded his pleadings liberal construction. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, a prisoner in custody may seek to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence on four grounds: (1) the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, (2) the court was without jurisdiction to impose the sentence, (3) the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law, or (4) the sentence is otherwise subject to a collateral attack. Hili v. United States, 368 U.S. 424 (1962) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 2255). Further, "an error of law does not provide a basis for collateral attack unless the claimed error constituted 'a fundamental defect which inherently results in a complete miscarriage of justice.'" United States v. Addonizio, 442 U.S. 178, 185 (1979) (quoting Hill, 368 U.S. at 428).

         ANALYSIS

         I. Petitioner's Motion is Untimely

         A. Petitioner Did Not File His Motion Within the One-year Statute of Limitations

         A one-year statute of limitations applies to § 2255 petitions. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f). The limitations period runs from the latest of:

(1) [T]he date on which the judgment of 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 that 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.

Id.

         The Government avers that the one-year limitations period started to run on the date Brooks' judgment of conviction became final. (ECF No. 44 at 2-3.) Finality for the purpose of 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f)(1) attaches when the opportunity to appeal expires. See Clay v. United States, 537 U.S. 522, 524-25 (2003); United States v. Sosa, 364 F.3d 507, 509 (4th Or. 2004). Because Brooks did not file an appeal, Brooks' conviction became final fourteen days after entry of judgment, which was filed on July 13, 2015. See Fed. R. App. P. 4(b)(1)(A) (providing fourteen days to file an appeal). Under the facts presented, Brooks' limitations period started to run on July 27, 2015, and expired one year later on July 27, 2016. Brooks did not file his § 2255 Motion until August 29, 2016, approximately one month after the one-year limitations period expired. Accordingly, the Motion is untimely.

         B. Equitable Tolling ...


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