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Jackson v. United States

United States District Court, D. Maryland

April 15, 2019

LATASHA JACKSON, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM

          Ellen L. Hollander United States District Judge

         Latasha Jackson, Petitioner, has filed a “Motion To Vacate, Set Aside, And Correct A Sentence, ” pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. (“Petition, ” ECF 390). The government has filed an opposition. ECF 398. No. reply was filed, and the time to reply has expired.

         No hearing is necessary to resolve the Petition. For the reasons that follow, I shall deny the Petition.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         A grand jury in the District of Maryland returned a twelve-count Superseding Indictment on May 31, 2017 (ECF 4), naming twelve defendants. It included three counts against Latasha Jackson. In particular, Jackson was charged in Count One with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute heroin and 28 grams or more of cocaine base, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846. In Count Four, Jackson was charged with distribution of heroin and cocaine base, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a). Count Eight charged Jackson with distribution of heroin, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a).

         On October 5, 2017, Jackson appeared before the Honorable J. Frederick Motz and entered a plea of guilty to Count One of the Superseding Indictment. ECF 148; ECF 150 (Plea Agreement).[1] As part of the Plea Agreement, Jackson stipulated to a two-level increase to her base offense level because a firearm was possessed as part of the conspiracy. ECF 150, ¶ 6(b); see U.S.S.G. § 2B1.1(b).

         Paragraph 6(a) of the Plea Agreement contains the stipulation of facts. Jackson agreed, inter alia, that during the narcotics conspiracy, “law enforcement seized a firearm from one of the Defendants' co-conspirators.” ECF 150 at 4, ¶ 6(a). Jackson also agreed that, in furtherance of the conspiracy, she sold crack cocaine to an undercover agent on April 28, 2017, and sold heroin to an undercover agent on May 8, 2017. Id.

         Notably, the plea was entered pursuant to Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(c)(1)(C). ECF 150, ¶ 9. Pursuant to the terms of the C plea, the parties stipulated to a sentence of 72 months' imprisonment as the appropriate disposition of the case. Id. Moreover, Jackson expressly waived her right to appeal, subject to the reservation of the right to appeal a sentence of more than 72 months. Id. at 6, ¶ 12(b).

         Sentencing was held on December 7, 2017. ECF 192. By that time, the case had been reassigned to me.

         According to the original Presentence Report (ECF 182), the defendant qualified as a career offender. Id. ¶¶ 22, 40. It is not clear whether the parties anticipated that finding. But, it was not mentioned in the Plea Agreement. See ECF 150, ¶ 6(b). In any event, I rejected it. Therefore, an Amended Presentence Report was prepared (ECF 194), which reflected a final offense level of 23 (id. ¶ 25) and a criminal history category of III. Id. ¶ 39.

         Petitioner's advisory sentencing guidelines range called for a period of incarceration of 57 to 71 months. Id. ¶ 94. However, based on the mandatory minimum term of 60 months, the guideline range was adjusted to 60 to 71 months. Id.; see U.S.S.G. § 5G1.1(c)(2).

         Moreover, I rejected the C plea of 72 months' imprisonment as too harsh. Instead, I sentenced Jackson to a term of imprisonment of 60 months. ECF 195 (Judgment). Of import here, the five-year sentence corresponded to the congressionally mandated minimum term of imprisonment of five years. See ECF 150 at 2, ¶ 3; see also 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1)(B). As the government puts it, “This was the lowest possible sentence that Jackson could have received because it was the statutory minimum for Count One.” ECF 398 at 2.

         Thereafter, the government dismissed Count Four and Count Eight of the Superseding Indictment. Neither Jackson nor the government noted an appeal.

         II. ...


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