United States District Court, D. Maryland
DEBORAH K. CHASANOW UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Sophia Jones (“Jones”) 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. 526. The Government has responded to
Jones's motion to vacate and filed a motion to seal. ECF
Nos. 537, 538. For the reasons discussed below, the court
will deny Jones's § 2255 motion and grant the
Government's motion to seal.
December 12, 2012, a grand jury indicted eleven defendants,
including Jones, on 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.
ECF No. 1. On November 13, 2013, a grand jury returned a
Superseding Indictment that included additional charges as to
Jones. ECF No. 235. Jones was charged with (1) use of a
communication facility in furtherance of a drug trafficking
offense (Counts Nine, Eleven, Thirteen), and (2) possession
with intent to distribute heroin (Counts Ten, Twelve,
Jones's initial appearance on July 17, 2013, the court
appointed counsel pursuant to the Criminal Justice Act. ECF
No. 350. XXXXX
January 24, 2014, a jury found Jones guilty on all pertinent
charges in the Superseding Indictment. ECF No. 290.
18, 2015, the court sentenced Jones to 120 months of
imprisonment on Count One; 48 months of imprisonment on
Counts Nine, Eleven, and Thirteen; and 97 months on Counts
Ten, Twelve, and Fourteen. ECF No. 475. All sentences were to
run concurrently. Id.Jones appealed to the U.S. Court
of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which affirmed her
conviction on August 12, 2016. ECF No. 508.
filed her § 2255 motion on August 14, 2017. ECF No. 526.
On August 16, 2017, the court ordered the United States to
respond to Jones's § 2255 motion within 60 days of
the Order and allowed Jones to reply within 28 days of the
United States' response. ECF No. 527. The Government
filed its timely opposition and a motion to seal. ECF Nos.
537, 538. Jones did not file a reply.
motion to vacate and grounds in support of her motion, Jones
asserts fourteen arguments, but provides limited application
of them to her case: (1) she was denied effective assistance
of counsel, ECF Nos. 526 at 4-5, 8-9; 526-1 at 1; (2) her
conviction was obtained by use of evidence gained pursuant to
an unconstitutional search and seizure, ECF Nos. 526 at 4,
526-1 at 1; (3) her conviction was “obtained by wrong
legal status, ” ECF No. 526-1 at 2; (4) the grand jury
or the petit jury was “unconstitutionally selected or
tainted by a third party instruction, ” id.;
(5) her conviction was obtained in violation of her Fifth
Amendment right against self-incrimination, id.; (6)
her conviction was obtained by an ex post facto law, ECF Nos.
526 at 8; 526-1 at 3; (7) her conviction was obtained in the
wrong jurisdiction, ECF Nos. 526 at 7; 526-1 at 3; (8) her
conviction was obtained through a forced waiver of certain
“inalienable rights” in violation of her
religious and spiritual beliefs, ECF No. 526-1 at 4; (9) this
court was not the proper venue for her case, ECF Nos. 526 at
7; 526-1 at 4; (10) this court lacked the constitutional
authority to adjudicate her case, ECF No. 526-1 at 4; (11)
the United States lacked standing to prosecute her because it
is a “corporate fiction, ” id. at 5;
(12) she is being unlawfully held in violation of Article 6
of the U.S. Constitution, id.; (13) she has been
denied the right of habeas corpus, id.; and (14) her
due process rights were violated because one of the felony
drug statutes she was convicted of violates the void for
vagueness doctrine, id.
prevail on a § 2255 motion, a petitioner must prove by a
preponderance of the evidence that “[her] sentence was
imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the
United States, or that the court was without jurisdiction to
impose such sentence, or that the sentence was in excess of
the maximum authorized by law, or is otherwise subject to
collateral attack . . . .” 28 U.S.C. § 2255
(2012); Miller v. United States, 261 F.2d 546, 547
(4th Cir. 1958). A claim which does not challenge the
constitutionality of a sentence or the court's
jurisdiction is cognizable in a § 2255 motion only if
the alleged violation constitutes a “miscarriage of
justice.” United States v. Addonizio, 442 U.S.
178, 185 (1979) (citation omitted).
attack is not a substitute for direct appeal; therefore, the
failure to raise certain issues on direct appeal may render
them procedurally defaulted on habeas review. United
States v. Frady, 456 U.S. 152, 165 (1982). Issues fully
litigated on direct appeal cannot be raised on collateral
attack. Boeckenhaupt v. United States, 537 F.2d
1182, 1183 (4th Cir. 1976). If the § 2255 motion, along
with the files and records of the case, “conclusively
show that [the petitioner] is entitled to no relief, ”
a hearing on the motion is unnecessary and the claims raised
in the motion may be dismissed summarily. 28 U.S.C. §
2255; Miller, 261 F.2d at 547. Pro se
petitions are liberally construed. Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam).
Jones's Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Claims Lack
brings four ineffective assistance of counsel claims, three
against her trial counsel, and one against her appellate