United States District Court, D. Maryland
L. Hollander United States District Judge
November 2015, Anthony Miles, the self-represented
Petitioner, has submitted numerous filings stemming from his
conviction on a charge of conspiracy to distribute and
possess with intent to distribute one kilogram or more of
heroin, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846. This Memorandum
Opinion resolves Petitioner's Motion to Vacate, Set Aside
or Correct Sentence (ECF 568), as amended (ECF 584)
(collectively, the “Petition”).
government opposes the Petition. See ECF 585. Miles
replied by way of a “Motion.” ECF 586. In
addition, he filed a “Motion For Production Of District
Court Record In Crim. No. ELH-13-0512” (ECF 589), and a
“Motion For Expansion Of The Record” (ECF 599).
28 U.S.C. § 2255(b), a hearing is required
“[u]nless the motion and the files and records of the
case conclusively show the prisoner is entitled to no relief
. . . .” This is such a case. No. hearing is necessary.
For the reasons that follow, I shall grant ECF 599, but I
will deny ECF 589. And, I shall deny the Petition (ECF 568,
September 24, 2013, Miles and thirteen others were indicted
on various drug related charges. See ECF 1. Miles
was charged in Count One with conspiracy to distribute and
possess with intent to distribute one kilogram or more of
heroin, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846. He was also
charged in Count Nine with distribution of heroin on or about
August 4, 2013, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1).
Id. at 11.
year later, on September 30, 2014, Miles entered a plea of
guilty to Count One (ECF 351), pursuant to a Plea Agreement.
ECF 352. Under the terms of the Plea Agreement, the offense
to which Miles entered a guilty plea carried a maximum term
of life imprisonment and a mandatory minimum term of ten
years' imprisonment. Id. ¶ 3; see
21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A).
plea was entered pursuant to Rule 11(c)(1)(C) of the Federal
Rules of Criminal Procedure. ECF 352, ¶ 9. Under the C
plea, the parties agreed to a sentence of 120 months.
Id. ¶ 10. That proposed sentence corresponded
to the congressionally mandated minimum sentence.
6 of the Plea Agreement set forth the parties'
stipulations as to the sentencing guidelines. In ¶ 6(a),
the parties agreed that Miles had a base offense level of 32
under § 2D1.1(4) of the United States Sentencing
Guidelines (“U.S.S.G.” or
“Guidelines”), which was based on the quantity of
at least one kilogram of heroin but less than three kilograms
of heroin. However, in ¶ 6(d) of the Plea Agreement, the
parties anticipated the then impending changes to the Drug
Quantity Table, which went into effect in November 2014.
Therefore, it was agreed that at sentencing the defendant
would seek a two-level downward reduction based on the
changes to the Guidelines. The parties further agreed that,
if the Court granted that variance, defendant would not seek
a sentencing reduction at a later time, under 18 U.S.C.
§ 3582(c)(2), based on the retroactive application of
the amendment to the Guidelines. Id. at 4.
guilty plea proceeding on September 30, 2014, Miles was
sworn. See ECF 504 (Transcript) at 2. In response to
questions from the Court, Miles indicated that he was fully
satisfied with the legal representation provided by his
attorney. Id. at 5. Moreover, the Court confirmed
with Miles that he had entered a plea of guilty to Count One
of the Indictment, which charged him with conspiracy to
distribute and possession with intent to distribute one
kilogram or more of heroin. Id. at 7. Miles
signified that he understood the offense to which he had
entered a plea of guilty. Id.
the Court reviewed the elements of the offense at issue (ECF
504 at 7-8), as set forth in the Plea Agreement. See
ECF 352, ¶ 2. Paragraph 2(a) specified that the elements
included the drug quantity of one kilogram or more of heroin.
Miles indicated that he understood. ECF 504, at 8. Miles was
also advised of the maximum possible penalty of life
imprisonment and the mandatory minimum sentence of 10
years' incarceration. Id. at 8; see ECF
352, ¶ 3.
addition, the Court reviewed the particulars of ¶ 6(a)
of the Plea Agreement, indicating that the offense involved
“at least one kilogram, but less than three
kilograms” of heroin. Id. In response to
whether that quantity was “consistent” with what
Miles had been told (id.), Miles responded in the
affirmative. Id. at 12. After applicable deductions,
the parties anticipated a final offense level of 27.
Id. at 14.
import here, ¶ 6(c) of the Plea Agreement (ECF 352)
stated that Miles was “free to argue” as to any
“offense characteristics, sentencing guideline factors,
departures and/or adjustments, including as to [his] role in
the offense . . . .” The Court reviewed that text. ECF
504 at 13. Miles was also advised that there was no agreement
as to his criminal history and that he could be “deemed
to be a career offender.” Id. at 14; ECF 352,
¶ 7. Miles indicated that he understood. Id.
addition, the Court reviewed with Miles the terms of the plea
pursuant to Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(c)(1)(C). Pursuant to the
terms of the C plea, the parties agreed to a sentence of 120
months' imprisonment, and Miles indicated that this was
consistent with his understanding. ECF 504 at 15.
Miles was informed that in ¶ 11 of the Plea Agreement,
he waived most of his appellate rights. However, he reserved
the right to appeal a sentence in excess of 120 months.
See ECF 352, ¶ 11(b)(i). Miles
indicted that he understood. ECF 504 at 16-17.
Plea Agreement contained a written Statement of Facts (ECF
352 at 9-13), to which Miles stipulated. Id. at 13.
Miles was advised that he had “agreed or stipulated to
the Statement of Facts set forth in Attachment A” of
the Plea Agreement. ECF 504 at 11. The Court added: “In
other words, you've agreed that if this case went to
trial at a minimum the government would prove [the facts in
Attachment A] beyond a reasonable doubt.” Id.
Notably, the written Statement of Facts specifically stated
that the amount of heroin reasonably foreseeable to Miles
“was at least one kilogram . . . .” ECF 352 at
12. Then, the Court inquired if Mr. Miles understood he had
made “that agreement?” ECF 504 at 11. Miles
responded in the affirmative. Id.
government also orally presented a summary of facts in
support of the guilty plea. ECF 504 at 28-32. Among other
things, the prosecutor stated that, if the case proceeded to
trial, the parties stipulated that the government would
prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the amount of heroin
reasonably foreseeable to Miles was at least one kilogram of
heroin. ECF 504 at 32. The Court specifically asked Miles if
the government's factual summary was accurate.
Id. He responded, “Yes, ma'am.”
February 11, 2015, prior to sentencing, the Court ordered an
attorney inquiry hearing, based on complaints from Miles. ECF
450. The magistrate judge held a hearing on February 18, 2015
(ECF 462) and determined that it was not necessary to appoint
new counsel for Miles. ECF 505 at 2. See also ECF
447; ECF 463.
Presentence Report (“PSR”) was docketed on
December 4, 2014. ECF 391. The Amended PSR is at ECF 491. The
PSR reflected a base offense level that took into account the
changes to the drug quantity table that went into effect in
November 2014. Thus, the offense would have had a base level
of 30, rather than 32. However, according to the PSR, Miles
qualified as a career offender. ECF 391, ¶ 42; see
also Id. ¶¶ 31, 33. Therefore, his base
offense level jumped from 30 to 37. After three deductions
for acceptance of responsibility, Miles's final offense
level was a 34. See Id. ¶¶ 23, 24. If
Miles were not a career offender, his final offense level
would have been a 27. And, because of the career offender
status, Miles's criminal history category increased from
IV to VI.
was held on March 20, 2015. ECF 486. At sentencing, Miles
maintained that, pursuant to the terms of his Plea Agreement,
he had the right to challenge the drug quantity attributable
to him as well as his criminal history. ECF 505 (Transcript)
at 3-5; see ECF 532, ¶ 6(c). The Court noted,
inter alia, that the Plea Agreement involved a plea
to Count One of the Indictment, and that count expressly
charged conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to
distribute one kilogram or more of heroin. Id. at
5-6. Moreover, in the Statement of Facts, to which the
defendant agreed, he stipulated that the amount of heroin
foreseeable to him was at least one kilogram. Id. at
the Court determined that ¶ 6(c) of the Plea Agreement
did not authorize a challenge to the drug quantity of one
kilogram of heroin because, among other things, Miles had
agreed to that drug quantity, under oath. See,
e.g., ECF 505 at 16, 19-21. The Court observed that,
applying commonsense to the construction of the Plea
Agreement, and in reconciling the various provisions, the
defendant was not on sound legal ground in attempting to
“undercut his plea by challenging the drug quantity
when the entire plea was predicated on a plea to Count One,
which charged conspiracy to distribute and possess with
intent to distribute one kilogram or more.”
Id. at 20. In this regard, the Court identified the
various places in the Plea Agreement that referenced the one
kilogram. Id. at 20-21.
the Court expressly indicated to defendant, as follows,
id. at 6: “Now, if you wish to withdraw your
guilty plea and you want [defense counsel] to file a motion
on your behalf, I will entertain that motion. I can't say
now how I will rule in advance. But is that what you would
like to do?” See also Id. at 9, 21. Defendant
stated: “I'm not trying to withdraw the plea, Your
Honor. I'm just trying to get what was promised to me
within this contract.” Id. at 6. The Court
also noted that the agreed upon term of 10 years'
incarceration was linked to the drug quantity. Id.
at 7. The Court reiterated, id. at 11-12: “I
will entertain a motion to withdraw your guilty plea.”
And, the Court repeated itself, stating, id. at 13:
“Again, if you wish to withdraw your guilty plea, I am
happy to entertain that request. . . . I'll keep an open
mind, and we'll go from there.” Id.
Further, the Court said, id. at 22-23: “So if
you're unhappy with your decision to have pled to the
offense, which was a one kilogram or more quantity, the only
thing I can contemplate is a motion to withdraw your guilty
plea. And that is your decision.” Significantly, based
on what transpired, the Court declined to go forward with
sentencing on that date. Id. at 26. I stated, in
part: “I wouldn't want [Miles] to feel somebody
pressured him today to proceed to a sentencing after we have
spent all this time ironing out what I think the agreement
permits and what it doesn't permit.” Id.
Miles was granted about a month to file a motion to withdraw
his plea. Id. at 34. See also ECF 464
(paperless order of February 18, 2015, allowing Miles to file
a motion to withdraw his guilty plea by March 13, 2015).
However, no motion to withdraw the guilty plea was filed.
Therefore, on March 20, 2015, the Court again proceeded to
sentencing. ECF 486.
second sentencing proceeding, the Court reviewed all that had
previously transpired. Mr. Miles reiterated, ECF 506 at 14:
“I never had the opportunity for foreseeable drug
amount in conspiracy. The government has used an alleged drug
amount that was involved in the whole entire conspiracy. So
basically, they're saying that I'm responsible for
all the drugs that was in the conspiracy . . . .” In
response, the Court again asked Miles, id. at 18:
“Do you wish to file a motion to withdraw your guilty
plea?” Miles responded, id.: “No,
Ma'am.” At sentencing, the Court determined that
Mr. Miles qualified as a career offender within the meaning
of U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1, on the basis of a prior Maryland
felony conviction for the offense of possession of CDS with
the intent to distribute (ECF 391, ¶¶ 31-32), and
for the prior federal offense of possession of a firearm in
furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Id.,
¶¶ 33-38. See ECF 506 at 22, 23.
on a final offense level of 34 and a criminal history
category of VI, the Court determined that the advisory
sentencing guideline range called for a period of
incarceration ranging between 262 and 327 months. ECF 506 at
24. After hearing argument from counsel for both sides, the
Court agreed to abide by the C plea and imposed a sentence of
120 months' incarceration. Id. at 30-36.
See ECF 489 (Judgment); ECF 490 (Statement of
Reasons). As indicated, that sentence corresponded to the
congressionally mandated minimum sentence. And, the sentence
was well below the bottom of the Guidelines range.
a few days, Miles noted his appeal to the Fourth Circuit. ECF
488. The government moved to dismiss the appeal, based on
Miles's waiver of the right to appeal, as set out in the
Plea Agreement. The Fourth Circuit granted the motion and
dismissed the appeal. See ECF 533; ECF 534. The
mandate issued on September 11, 2015. ECF 536.
Fourth Circuit stated, in part, ECF 533 at 1-2: “Upon
review of the record, we conclude that the issue Miles seeks
to raise on appeal, that the District Court erred in finding
he could not challenge the drug quantity attributed to him,
falls squarely within the compass of his waiver of appellate
right.” Miles did not file ...