United States District Court, D. Maryland
L. Hollander United States District Judge
a jury trial in December 2013, defendant Richard Wilford, who
is now self-represented, was convicted of conspiracy to
distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. ECF 268. His
conviction was affirmed by the Fourth Circuit. ECF 501. This
Memorandum resolves Wilford's post-appeal “Motion
To Dismiss For Lack Of Subject-Matter Jurisdiction Pursuant
To The Court's Inherent Supervisory Power And Not To Be
Construed As 28 U.S.C. § 2255.” ECF 507 (the
hearing is necessary to resolve the Motion. For the reasons
that follow, I shall deny the Motion.
Factual and Procedural Background
5, 2011, a federal grand jury in Maryland returned an
Indictment charging that between August 2010 and May 2011,
Richard Wilford and five others conspired to distribute and
possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of a
mixture or substance containing cocaine, in violation of 21
U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 846. ECF 1. A Superseding
Indictment was filed on August 25, 2011, adding a forfeiture
count. ECF 59.
pretrial motions were filed by Wilford's privately
retained defense attorney. Wilford proceeded to trial
beginning December 11, 2013. On December 18, 2013, the jury
found Wilford guilty of conspiracy to distribute five
kilograms or more of cocaine. ECF 267; ECF 268. On August 7,
2014, Mr. Wilford was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of
340 months and to a period of supervised release of 10 years.
ECF 353. Judgment was entered on August 12, 2014.
ECF 354. Thereafter, on August 13, 2014, Wilford noted an
appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth
Circuit. ECF 357.
the pendency of the appeal, Mr. Wilford, pro se,
filed two motions. Of relevance here, Wilford filed a
“Motion To Dismiss Or Vacate For Lack Of Jurisdiction
To Hold Trial Void Of Any Constitutional Or Statutory
Authority.” ECF 416 (“First Motion”).
Wilford also filed a motion or new trial. ECF 418. By Order
of December 7, 2015 (ECF 424), the United States Court of
Appeals for the Fourth Circuit granted the government's
unopposed motion to stay Wilford's appeal pending this
Court's disposition of Wilford's motions.
First Motion (ECF 416), Wilford complained that this Court
lacked jurisdiction to proceed as to his case because he was
never arraigned on the charges. For the reasons set forth in
a Memorandum (ECF 445) and Order (ECF 446) of February 26,
2016, I denied the First Motion as well as the motion for new
trial. Wilford noted an appeal from those rulings. ECF 459.
Fourth Circuit consolidated the appeals as to the trial and
as to the rulings regarding the motions. In a per curiam
opinion of May 9, 2017, the Fourth Circuit affirmed on all
issues. The Court also denied a petition for rehearing. ECF
503. The Mandate issued on June 28, 2017. ECF 504; see
also United States v. Wilford, 689 Fed. App'x 727
(4th Cir. 2017) (per curiam).
after the disposition of the appeal, Wilford filed the
Motion. ECF 507. The government's response is at ECF 518.
Wilford replied. ECF 521. He also filed a
“Clarification.” ECF 522.
Motion (ECF 507) generally reasserts the contentions he
advanced in his First Motion. See ECF 416. In his
23-page Motion, Wilford argues, inter alia, that the
District Judge lacked “the power to proceed with a
valid jury trial” because Wilford was never arraigned
before a magistrate judge. ECF 507 at 8. He posits that
“the plea to the indictment is an essential element to
the court's power to proceed, and where a court
proceed[s] with a jury trial void of this essential element,
the trial is unconstitutional and the court has lost its
jurisdiction.” Id. at 12. Moreover, Wilford
insists that the record “must affirmatively show the
plea . . . .” Id. at 13. And, because of
“a want of plea” here, Wilford maintains that the
“court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction and the
authority to try the offense against him.” Id.
at 15. And, in his Reply (ECF 521), Wilford claims that the
District Judge “perverted” the process and made a
material misrepresentation to the jury by instructing the
jury that Wilford had pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Id. at 7.
substance, the claims here are identical to the ones that
Wilford advanced in ECF 416. In my Memorandum of February 26,
2016 (ECF 445), I reviewed the pertinent facts and addressed
the legal contentions. I found the claims without merit, and
denied the First Motion.
on appeal, the Fourth Circuit squarely considered
Wilford's claim that the Court lacked jurisdiction
because he was never ...