United States District Court, D. Maryland
W. TITUS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Amir Ali Faraz (“Faraz”) has filed a Motion Under
28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct
Sentence (“§ 2255 Motion” or “Motion
to Vacate”). ECF No. 521. The Government has filed a
Motion to Seal, ECF No. 523, and Faraz filed a Motion for
Leave to File Out of Time, ECF No. 525. For the reasons
discussed below, the Court will deny Faraz's § 2255
Motion, ECF No. 521, grant the Government's Motion to
Seal, ECF No. 523, and grant Faraz's Motion for Leave to
File Out of Time, ECF No. 525.
December 12, 2012, a grand jury indicted eleven defendants,
including Faraz, for a single count of conspiracy to
distribute one kilogram or more of heroin, and 100 kilograms
or more of marijuana, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846
(Count I). ECF No. 1. On November 13, 2013, a grand jury
issued a Superseding Indictment to include additional charges
as to Faraz. ECF No. 235. Faraz was charged with (1)
possession with intent to distribute heroin (Counts Two and
Four); (2) use of a communications facility in furtherance of
a drug trafficking offense (Counts Three, Five, Six, and
Eight), and (3) interstate travel with intent to promote drug
trafficking activities (Count Seven). Id.
January 7, 2014, the Government filed a Notice/Information of
Its Intention to Seek Enhanced Penalties Pursuant to 21
U.S.C. § 851 (“§ 851 Notice”). ECF No.
273. On January 24, 2014, a jury found Faraz guilty on all
pertinent charges in the Superseding Indictment. ECF No. 290.
23, 2014, Faraz filed Objections to the Government's
§ 851 Notice, ECF No. 357, which the Government
responded to on July 1, 2014, ECF No. 358. On July 7, 2014,
the Court held a hearing and sentenced Faraz to the mandatory
minimum sentence of 240 months of imprisonment on Count One;
the statutory maximum sentence of 240 months of imprisonment
on Count Two; 48 months of imprisonment on Counts Three,
Four, Five, Six, and Eight; and 60 months of imprisonment on
Count Seven. ECF No. 368. All sentences were to run
timely appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Fourth
Circuit, which affirmed his conviction on October 5, 2015.
ECF No. 506. He then filed a petition for writ of certiorari
with the U.S. Supreme Court, and on January 19, 2016, the
Supreme Court denied certiorari. Faraz v. United
States, 136 S.Ct. 913 (2016).
timely filed his § 2255 Motion on January 19, 2017. ECF
No. 521. On February 1, 2017, the Court ordered the United
States to respond to Faraz's § 2255 Motion within 60
days of the Order, and allowed Faraz to reply within 28 days
of the United States' response. ECF No. 522. The
Government filed its timely Opposition and a Motion to Seal.
ECF Nos. 523, 524. On May 2, 2017, Faraz filed a Motion for
Leave to File Out of Time and attached his proposed Reply.
ECF No. 525.
Court will first address Faraz's Motion for Leave to File
Out of Time, and then it will dispose of his Motion to
Faraz's Motion for Leave to File Out of Time Due to
Excusable Neglect Will Be Granted.
was allowed to file a reply within twenty-eight days of the
Government's Response. ECF No. 522. The Government's
Response was filed on March 17, 2017, so Faraz's reply
was due on April 14, 2017. On May 2, 2017, Faraz filed a
Motion for Leave to File Out of Time, asking the Court for
leave to file his reply out of time due to excusable neglect.
ECF No. 525. Specifically, he argues that the institution
where he is incarcerated was on lock down, and once the lock
down was lifted, the law library was closed due to a staffing
shortage. Id. ¶¶ 1-2. He avers that due to
these circumstances, which were beyond his control, there is
good cause to grant him leave. Id. ¶ 3.
determining whether excusable neglect has occurred, courts
look at four factors: (1) danger of prejudice to the
non-movant, (2) the length of delay and its potential impact
on judicial proceedings, (3) the reason for the delay,
including whether it was within the reasonable control of the
movant, and (4) whether the movant acted in good faith.
See Pioneer Inv. Servs. Co. v. Brunswick Assocs. Ltd.
P'ship, 507 U.S. 380, 395 (1993). The Fourth Circuit
has noted that “inadvertence, ignorance of the rules,
or mistakes construing the rules do not usually constitute
excusable neglect.” Thompson v. E.I. DuPont de
Nemours & Co., 76 F.3d 530, 533 (4th Cir. 1996)
(quoting Pioneer, 507 U.S. at 392).
Faraz's circumstances, the Pioneer factors weigh
in his favor. Filing his Reply less than three weeks late did
not have a significant impact on the proceedings nor did it
prejudice the Government. Importantly, the reasons for the
delay-that his institution was on lock down and the law
library was closed-were beyond his control. Moreover, given
that his Motion for Leave to File Out of Time was filed
shortly after the deadline, it appears that he was acting in