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United States v. Jewell

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

February 15, 2018




         Before the Court is Petitioner William A. Jewell's (“Jewell”) “Motion to Vacate, Set Aside or Correct Sentence Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255” (Record Document 734). Jewell seeks to have his sentence corrected on the grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel. For the reasons discussed herein, Jewell's Motion is DENIED.


         On August 10, 2011, a federal grand jury returned a superseding indictment against Jewell and twenty-one co-defendants in a two-count indictment. See Record Document 114. The indictment alleged the defendants had engaged in a conspiracy to advertise the distribution of child pornography. See id. All were alleged members of an on-line bulletin board used for distributing child pornography known as “Dreamboard.” Craig Bass (“Bass”) was appointed to represent Jewell. See Record Document 161.

         On September 12, 2011, the Court granted Jewell's “Motion for Order of Competency to Stand Trial, ” and Jewell was committed to an appropriate facility for examination to determine his competency to stand trial. See Record Document 293. On March 27, 2012, after a competency hearing and a Report and Recommendation by the Magistrate Judge, the Court found that Jewell had a “rational and factual understanding of the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him; and has sufficient present ability to consult with and assist his attorney with a reasonable degree of rational understanding.” Record Document 462. Thus, the Court found that the defendant was competent to stand trial and/or enter a guilty plea. See id.

         On August 9, 2012, after a hearing, the Jewell's “Motion to Disqualify Counsel” and Bass's “Motion to Withdraw as Attorney” was denied. See Record Document 576. On September 6, 2012, pursuant to a written plea agreement, Jewell pleaded guilty to Count Two of a third superseding indictment charging him with conspiracy to distribute child pornography in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2252(a)(2)(A) &(b)(1). See Record Document 611. On June 19, 2013, Jewell was sentenced to 240 months imprisonment. See Record Document 681. On June 16, 2014, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit dismissed the Jewell's appeal as frivolous. See Record Document 713.

         Jewell filed the instant Section 2255 Motion on October 10, 2014, and a memorandum in support on December 5, 2014. See Record Documents 734 and 749. The Government responded to the Motion on February 7, 2017, to which Jewell filed a reply on March 6, 2017. See Record Documents 786 and 787. Thus, the matter has been fully briefed.



         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 Section 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, 102 S.Ct. 1584 (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. ยง 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 ...

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