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United States v. Holt

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lake Charles Division

March 27, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
GREGORY HOLT A/K/A ABDUL MAALIK MUHAMMAD

          WILSON, MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          MEMORANDUM RULING

          DEE E. DRELL, JUDGE

         Presently before the court is a Petition for a Writ of Coram Nobis (Rec. Doc. 51) filed by the petitioner, Gregory Holt, also known as Abdul Maalik Muhammad.[1] For the following reasons, the petition for a writ (Rec. Doc. 51) will be DENIED and DISMISSED.

         I. FACTS & PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On June 20, 2005, the petitioner pleaded guilty to threats against the immediate family members of the President of the United States, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 879. (Rec. Doc. 21). As part of the plea agreement, he admitted that in 2004, while incarcerated at Oakdale Federal Correctional Institution, he "wrote several letters threatening to kidnap and inflict bodily harm upon the daughters" of President Bush. (Rec. Doc 21-2). When interviewed about the letters, the petitioner indicated that he had written them to appear tough. (Rec. Doc. 21-2). Holt also admitted that the letter written on June 20, 2004, that threatened President Bush's daughters with serious bodily harm, contained a threat, and the threat was "not idle talk, exaggeration or something written in a joking matter." (Rec. Doc. 21-2). On November 8, 2005, he was sentenced to 23 months imprisonment and three years of supervised release. (Rec. Docs. 29-30).

         The petitioner appealed, and his appeal was dismissed as frivolous by the Fifth Circuit. (Rec. Doc. 38). After Holt served his 23 month incarceration term, his supervised release was transferred to the Eastern District of Arkansas. (Rec. Doc. 39). His supervised release was revoked on November 1, 2007, and he was committed to the custody of the Bureau of Prisons to serve an additional 10 month term of imprisonment with no supervised release to follow. United States v. Holt, 4:07-cr-00150-SWW (E.D. Ark.), (Rec. Doc. 11). Holt served the sentence and was released from federal prison. Id. (Rec. Doc. 15). After he was released, he was sentenced in Arkansas state courts for violating Arkansas criminal laws. Id. (Rec. Doc. 15 (citing Holt v. State, 2011 Ark. 391, 384 S.W.3d498 (2011); Holt v. Hobbs, No. 5:12-CV-00453-BSM(E.D. Ark.))). He received a life sentence under Arkansas's Habitual Offender Laws. Holt v. Hobbs, No. 5:12-CV-00453-BSM (E.D. Ark.), (Rec. Doc. 13-1). Holt claims that the life sentence was a result of his 2005 conviction. (Rec. Doc. 51-1).

         While serving his life sentence, he filed habeas petitions that collaterally attacked his state convictions, Holt v. Hobbs, No. 5:12-CV-00453-BSM (E.D. Ark.) (Rec. Doc. 2), and his 2005 federal conviction in both the Eastern District of Arkansas, United States v. Holt, 4:07-cr-00150-SWW (E.D. Ark.), (Rec. Doc. 13), and the Western District of Louisiana (Rec. Doc. 40). All of his collateral attacks failed.[2] See (Rec. Docs. 49, 50); Holt v. Hobbs, No. 5:12-CV-00453-BSM (E.D. Ark.) (Rec. Doc. 60); United States v. Holt, 4:07-cr-00150-SWW (E.D. Ark.), (Rec. Doc. 15). The habeas petition filed before this court in 2013 was dismissed because it was untimely and Holt was no longer in custody. (Rec. Doc. 49). The court also discussed whether the petition was viable as a petition for a writ of coram nobis and concluded that it was not. The court determined that relief through a writ of coram nobis was unavailable because the claims[3]Holt raised in the 2013 petition could have been raised on direct appeal or in a timely filed 28 U.S.C. § 2255 claim. (Rec. Doc. 49, p. 5).

         The petitioner filed the current petition for a writ of coram nobis on December 5, 2016. In his petition, he argues that he is entitled to relief because (1) the United States Supreme Court's ruling in Elonis v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2001 (2015), changed the requisite mental state required for threat convictions; (2) the statements made regarding the President's daughters were political speech; and (3) his guilty plea was coerced.

         II. LAW & ANALYSIS

         "The writ of coram nobis is an extraordinary remedy available to a petitioner no longer in custody who seeks to vacate a criminal conviction in circumstances where the petitioner can demonstrate civil disabilities as a consequence of the conviction, and that the challenged error is of sufficient magnitude to justify the extraordinary relief." United States v. Esogbue, 357 F.3d 532, 534 (5th Cir. 2004) (quoting Jimenez v. Trominski, 91 F.3d 767, 768 (5th Cir. 1996)). The petition for writ should be filed in the district court of his conviction. Id. The district court has authority to grant a writ of coram nobis under the All Writs Act, which permits "courts established by Act of Congress" to issue "all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions." 28 U.S.C. § 1651(a). In his petition for a writ of coram nobis, Holt challenges his 2005 conviction which resulted in a 23-month term of imprisonment imposed by this court. Therefore, the petition is properly before this court, and the court has jurisdiction over the petition under the All Writs Act. See Esogbue, 357 F.3d at 534 (quoting Jimenez, 91 F.3d at 768); 28 U.S.C. § 1651(a).

         For Holt to be granted relief under a writ of coram nobis, he must show (1) that he is no longer in custody for the challenged conviction; (2) that no other remedy is available; (3) that he suffers a civil disability because of the challenged conviction; (4) that the conviction was based on an error of sufficient magnitude to justify relief; and (5) that he exercised reasonable diligence in trying to remedy the error. See Esogbue, 357 F.3d at 534; United States v. Dyer, 136 F.3d 417, 427 (5th Cir. 1998). "In addition, a petitioner bears the considerable burden of overcoming the presumption that previous judicial proceedings were correct." Dyer, 136 F.3d at 422 (citing United States v. Morgan, 346 U.S. 502, 513 (1954)).

         A. No Longer in Custody for the Challenged Conviction

         Holt must show that he is no longer in custody for the challenged conviction, the violation of 18 U.S.C § 879. A petitioner is no longer "in custody" for a conviction when "the sentence imposed for that conviction has fully expired." Esogbue, 357 F.3d at 534 (citing Maleng v. Cook, 490 U.S. 488, 490-91 (1989)). The 23-month sentence imposed for his violation of 18 U.S.C. § 879 has been served, and even though he is currently in custody under subsequent convictions in Arkansas, he is no longer in custody for the challenged sentence. Therefore, he meets the first criteria.

         B. No Other ...


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