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United States v. Moore

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division

February 8, 2017

CARLOS B. MOORE Civil Action No. 13-3035




         Before the Court is Petitioner Carlos B. Moore's (“Moore”) Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (Record Document 628). Moore seeks to have his sentence corrected on the grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel and that increasing his sentence for his prior convictions violated the Fifth and Sixth Amendments of the United States Constitution. For the reasons discussed herein, Moore's Motion is DENIED.


         On October 28, 2009, a federal grand jury filed charges against Moore and twelve co-defendants in a nine-count indictment. See Record Document 1. The indictment alleged that the defendants had engaged in a conspiracy to possess and distribute more than 50 grams of cocaine base, or crack cocaine, in the Western District of Louisiana. See id.

         On January 28, 2010, Moore pleaded guilty to Count Two of the indictment. See Record Documents 164 and 165. On June 14, 2010, the Court sentenced him to 292 months' imprisonment and ten years of supervised release. See Record Documents 250 and 251. Moore appealed his sentence. See Record Document 257. On December 15, 2011, while his appeal was pending, he filed a Motion for Retroactive Application of Sentencing Guidelines for Crack Cocaine Offenses. See Record Document 446. On June 26, 2012, the Court granted his Motion for Retroactive Application and reduced his sentence to 262 months' imprisonment. See Record Document 480. On March 19, 2013, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed his sentence. See Record Document 561. On November 7, 2013, Moore filed the instant § 2255 Motion. See Record Document 628.


         I. Legal Standards

         A. Motions to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct a Sentence Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255

         The federal habeas corpus remedy is contained in 28 U.S.C. § 2255, which provides that a prisoner serving a federal sentence may make a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence within a year after his conviction has become final. Review under § 2255 is limited to four grounds: (1) the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States; (2) the court was without jurisdiction to impose the sentence; (3) the sentence exceeds the statutory maximum sentence; or (4) the sentence is otherwise subject to collateral attack. See 28 U.S.C. § 2255. However, after conviction and exhaustion of a defendant's right to appeal, the Court is “entitled to presume that the defendant stands fairly and finally convicted.” United States v. Shaid, 937 F.2d 228, 231-32 (5th Cir. 1991), quoting United States v. Frady, 456 U.S. 152, 164 (1982). According to the Supreme Court, “our trial and appellate procedures are not so unreliable that we may not afford their completed operation any binding effect beyond the next in a series of endless postconviction collateral attacks . . . to the contrary, a final judgment commands respect.” Frady, 456 U.S. at 164-65.

         Consequently, issues that can be presented in a motion filed under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 are limited. A defendant can challenge a final conviction only on issues of constitutional or jurisdictional magnitude. Shaid, 937 F.2d at 232. As the Fifth Circuit has stated:

Relief under 28 U.S.C.A. § 2255 is reserved for transgressions of constitutional rights and for a narrow range of injuries that could not have been raised on direct appeal and would, if condoned, result in a complete miscarriage of justice. Nonconstitutional claims that could have been raised on direct appeal, but were not, may not be asserted in a collateral proceeding.

United States v. Vaughn, 955 F.2d 367, 368 (5th Cir. 1992) (citations omitted).

         Even if a petitioner wishes to assert issues that are constitutional or jurisdictional in nature, he may be procedurally barred from raising them. In order to raise an issue for the first time on collateral review, a petitioner must show both “cause” for his procedural default and “actual prejudice” resulting from the error. Frady, 456 U.S. at 168; Shaid, 937 F.2d at 232. To establish “cause, ” defendant must show that some external impediment prevented him from raising the claim on direct appeal. See United States v. Flores, 981 F.2d 231, 235 (5th Cir. 1993) (applying the same “cause” standard to a prisoner's second § 2255 motion). In order to meet the “actual prejudice” test, he must ...

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