United States District Court, D. Maryland
Lipton Hollander United States District Judge
Bates entered a plea of guilty on August 8, 2014, to Count
One of an Indictment charging conspiracy to distribute one
kilogram or more of heroin, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §
846. ECF 313. He was sentenced on February 5, 2015, to a term
of 120 months' incarceration. ECF 438. That sentence
corresponded to the statutory mandatory minimum. Notably, it
was considerably less than the 162 months of incarceration
sought by the government. See ECF 535 at 3. And, it
was well below the advisory guidelines range, which called
for a sentence ranging between 262 and 327 months of
imprisonment. See ECF 439.
March 12, 2018, Bates, who is now self-represented, filed a
Motion To Vacate, Set Aside or Correct Sentence, pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 2255. ECF 596 (the “Petition”).
The Petition, which exceeds 40 pages, alleges, among other
things, that the Court abused its discretion in
“branding” him as a career offender. Id.
government filed a response in opposition. ECF 598. It
contends that the Petition is both untimely and without
response to the government's opposition, the Court issued
an Order (ECF 600) dated May 15, 2018 (ECF 600), noting the
government's claim that the Petition is untimely. In the
Order, the Court invited Bates to provide the Court with
information to establish the timeliness of his Petition under
28 U.S.C. § 2255(f) or his entitlement to equitable
tolling of the statute of limitations. Moreover, the Court
granted Bates 28 days from the date of the Order to provide
the Court with additional information.
did not respond to those inquiries. See Docket. But,
on January 2, 2019, he filed a Motion for Brady Material (ECF
634); a motion to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF 635); and a
motion for counsel. ECF 636.
reviewing the Petition, the Court is mindful that a
self-represented litigant is generally “held to a
‘less stringent standard' than is a lawyer, and the
Court must liberally construe his claims, no matter how
‘inartfully' pled.” Morrison v. United
States, RDB-12-3607, 2014 WL 979201, at *2 (D. Md. Mar.
12, 2014) (internal citations omitted); see also Erickson
v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972) (stating that claims of
self-represented litigants are held “to less stringent
standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers”);
Bala v. Commonwealth of Virginia Dep't of
Conservation & Recreation, 532 Fed.Appx. 332, 334
(4th Cir. 2013) (same).
28 U.S.C. § 2255(b), the Court must hold a hearing
“[u]nless the motion and the files and records
conclusively show that the prisoner is entitled to no relief
. . . .” See, e.g., United States
v. White, 366 F.3d 291, 302 (4th Cir. 2004). This is
such a case. No. hearing is necessary.
reasons that follow, I shall dismiss the Petition as
untimely. And, I shall deny ECF 634, ECF 635, and ECF 636.
noted, on August 8, 2014, Bates entered a plea of guilty to
Count One of an Indictment charging him with conspiracy to
distribute and possess with intent to distribute one kilogram
or more of heroin, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846. ECF
313. Under the terms of the Plea Agreement (ECF 314), entered
under Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(c)(1)(C), the parties agreed to a
sentence ranging between 120 and 162 months of imprisonment.
ECF 314 (Plea Agreement), ¶ 9. Notably, the offense
carried a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 120
months (i.e., 10 years), with a maximum period of
incarceration of life imprisonment. Id. ¶ 3.
was held on February 5, 2015. At sentencing, the government
sought a term of incarceration of 162 months, which was the
top of the C plea range. ECF 535 (Transcript) at 3. Moreover,
the advisory sentencing guidelines range called for a period
of incarceration ranging between 262 and 327 months.
See ECF 440 (Amended Presentence Report). The
sentencing range was based on a final offense level of 34 and
a criminal history category of VI. Id. ¶¶
32, 39. In turn, the final offense level and criminal history
category were based on the Court's determination that
Bates qualified as a career offender under U.S.S.G. §
4B1.1. See ECF 535 at 6-8. Nevertheless, even if the
Court had found that Bates was not a career offender, the
Court was statutorily required to impose a sentence of at
least 120 months.
Court sentenced Bates to the mandatory minimum term of
incarceration of 120 months. ECF 438 (Judgment). See
21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A). That also corresponded to the
bottom of the C plea range. No. appeal was filed by Bates.
Petition, Bates seeks, inter alia, resentencing
based on an offense level of 27 and a criminal history
category of IV. ECF 596 at 12. That corresponds to the
offense level and criminal history category if Bates had not
been a career offender. According to Bates, he is no longer a
career offender under Johnson v. United States, ...