United States District Court, D. Maryland
J. MESSITTE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Raul Castillo Ramos has filed a pro se Motion for
Resentencing Consideration. ECF No. 111. The Government has
responded in Opposition. ECF No. 113. For the reasons set
forth below, the Court DENIES the Motion.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
September 8, 2004, Ramos was indicted on six counts of
distributing cocaine base (crack) and two counts of using and
carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug
trafficking offense. ECF No. 5. After a jury trial in 2004,
he was convicted of all eight counts. ECF No. 20. On February
2, 2005, Judge Williams of this Court (now retired) sentenced
Ramos to 40 years of imprisonment. ECF No. 27. On appeal, the
Fourth Circuit affirmed the conviction and sentence. ECF No.
31. On November 27, 2006, the Supreme Court denied Ramos'
petition for writ of certiorari. Ramos v. United
Stales, 549 U.S. 1065(2006).
November 5, 2007, Ramos filed a timely Motion to Vacate, Set
Aside and Correct Sentence under 18 U.S.C. § 2255,
asserting several ineffective assistance of counsel claims
and arguing that his sentence was in excess of the sentence
allowed by law. ECF No. 34. In a Memorandum Opinion and Order
on December 2, 2008, the Court (J. Williams) denied the
Motion to Vacate. ECF Nos. 42 and 43. Ramos appealed on
January 9, 2009. ECF No. 46. On July 29, 2009, the Fourth
Circuit dismissed Ramos' appeal. ECF No. 53.
then and as described in the Court's February 7, 2017
Memorandum Opinion, ECF No. 109, Ramos has filed multiple
motions. The Court has construed many of them as Motions to
Vacate pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. See ECF
Nos. 80, 85, 102. Since Ramos either had not sought or was
denied authorization by the Fourth Circuit to file a
successive petition in all these cases, the Court denied the
10, 2016, Ramos filed a Motion to Vacate Sentence under 18
U.S.C. § 2255, alluding to the Supreme Court's
opinion in Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551
(2015). ECF No. 101. The Court issued a Memorandum Opinion
and Order on February 7, 2017, denying the Motion to Vacate.
ECF Nos. 109 & 110. Based on the law at the time, the
Court found Johnson inapplicable to the Motion
because, unlike Johnson, Ramos's underlying
conviction was a drug offense rather than a crime of
violence. ECF No. 109.
September 5, 2017, Ramos asked the Court to reconsider his
sentence under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), relying on Dean
v. United States, 137 S.Ct. 1170 (2017). ECF No. 111. On
November 1, 2017, the Government filed a response in
Opposition. ECF No. 113. In this motion, Ramos is essentially
arguing that the Court should reconsider his sentencing
because under Dean, 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) does not
restrain the Court from doing so. ECF No. 111. Relying on
Dean, Ramos asks the court to reconsider the
sentencing for his predicate offenses and to adjust those
sentences to one day each. Id., The Court notes that
Ramos was sentenced to the statutory minimum for both the
predicate offenses and the § 924(c) offenses.
Government argues that the motion is a repetitious filing
under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 and because Ramos has not sought
the appropriate permission from the Fourth Circuit, the Court
lacks jurisdiction. The Government also challenges the
relevance of the Dean case because Ramos was
sentenced to the statutory minimum for the predicate
offenses. Lastly, the Government argues that even if
Dean is relevant, it does not apply retroactively on
collateral review. Id.
Judge Blake of this Court Ordered that the Federal Public
Defender for the District of Maryland be appointed to
represent Ramos in proceedings pursuant to Section 404 of the
First StepActof2Ol8, Pub. L. No. 115-391, 132 Stat. 5194
(2018). ECF No. 115. This Opinion solely addresses Ramos'
Motion for Resentencing under Dean, ECF No. 111.
Ramos continues to proceed pro se with respect to
the present motion.
authorization from the Fourth Circuit, a defendant's
successive § 2255 motion is barred and a district court
must deny the motion for lack of jurisdiction. See
28 U.S.C. § 2255(h); United States v.
Winestock, 340 F.3d 200, 205 (4th Ch\ 2003) (abrogated
in part on other grounds by United Slates v. McRae,
793 F.3d 392 (4th Cir. 2015)); United Stales v.
Lora, 629 Fed.Appx. 564, 565 (4th Cir. 2015).
Authorization is required even when it appears that a
defendant is attempting to file the "functional
equivalent" of a § 2255 petition.
Winestock 340 F.3d at 206. In fact, district courts
should "classify pro se pleadings from prisoners
according to their contents, without regard to their
captions." Id. at 203.
such, the Court first must determine whether Ramos's
post-judgment filing should be construed as an unauthorized
and successive § 2255 motion attacking his convictions
and sentences because he previously filed a § 2255
application, which was dismissed on the merits, and has not
obtained court of appeals certification for the present
filing as required under 28 U.S.C. § 2255(h). If
Ramos's filing is construed as an unauthorized arid
successive § 2255 motion directly attacking his
conviction or sentence, then the Court lacks jurisdiction to
consider it. See Winestock, 340 F.3d at 206.
defendants "convicted in federal court are required to
bring collateral attacks challenging the validity of their
judgment and sentence by filing a motion to vacate sentence
pursuant to 28 U.S.C.A. § 2255." In re