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United States v. Mitchell

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

April 23, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
SHANNON MITCHELL

         SECTION L

          ORDER AND REASONS

          ELDON E. FALLON United States District Judge.

         Pending before the Court is pro se Defendant Shannon Mitchell's motion to vacate, set aside, or correct sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Rec. Doc. 53. Mitchell bases his request for relief on Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015), and Mathis v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 2243 (2016). Mitchell also claims ineffective assistance of counsel at sentencing, and asks for relief under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b). The Government opposes Defendant's motion. Rec. Doc. 59. Having considered the parties' submissions and applicable law, the Court now issues this Order and Reasons.

         I.RELEVANT PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         In September 2007, Mitchell pleaded guilty to a two-count indictment charging violations of the Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) & 851(a) (“Count 1”), and the Gun Control Act, 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) (“Count 2”). See Rec. Doc. 36.

         At the time of sentencing, because Mitchell had a criminal history that included two or more convictions for a crime of violence or felony drug offenses, he qualified for the classification as a career offender under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1. The statutory penalties that Mitchell faced for imprisonment was a mandatory minimum of twenty years to maximum of life as to Count 1 of his indictment, and a maximum of ten years as to Count 2. In March 2008, the Court sentenced Mitchell to 280 months' imprisonment (23 years and four months) for both counts. Rec. Doc. 49. Mitchell did not file a direct appeal.

         Nonetheless, in March 2017, Mitchell filed the instant § 2255 motion, more than one year after the Supreme Court's decision in Johnson. Rec. Doc. 53. Mitchell filed supplements to his § 2255 motion in June 2017 and August 2017. See Rec. Docs. 54 & 58. In his motion and subsequent filings, Mitchell argues (1) that the application of the career offender guideline enhancement, U.S.S.G. §§ 4B1.1 and 4B1.2, was improper in light of Johnson and Mathis, (2) that his attorney was ineffective in failing to object to the application of the career offender guideline enhancement; and (3) that he is entitled to relief under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b). See Rec. Doc. 54. The Court will address each issue in turn.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, a federal prisoner may move the court that imposed his sentence to vacate, set aside or correct the sentence. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). Section 2255 identifies only four bases on which the motion may be made: (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.” Id.; see also United States v. Placente, 81 F.3d 555, 558 (5th Cir. 1996). A claim of error that is neither constitutional nor jurisdictional is not cognizable in a section 2255 proceeding unless the error constitutes a “fundamental error” that “renders the entire proceeding irregular or invalid.” United States v. Addonizio, 442 U.S. 178, 185 (1979).

         The petitioner bears the burden of establishing his claims of error by a preponderance of the evidence. Wright v. Bondurant, 689 F.2d 1246, 1251 (5th Cir. 1982). If the Court finds that the prisoner is entitled to relief, it “shall vacate and set the judgment aside and shall discharge the prisoner or resentence him or grant a new trial or correct the sentence as may appear appropriate.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(b).

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Mitchell's Claims Are Not Timely.

         As a threshold matter, the Court must determine whether Defendant timely filed his petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2255.

         The law requires that all § 2255 petitions be filed within one year of:

(1) the date on which the judgment of conviction becomes final;
(2) the date on which the impediment to making a motion created by governmental action in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States is removed, if the movant was prevented from ...

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