United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER AND REASONS
S. VANCE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is defendant Christopher Williams's motion to
vacate his sentence under 28 U.S.C. §
2255. Upon review of the entire record, the
Court has determined that this matter can be disposed of
without an evidentiary hearing. The Court denies the motion
because it is time barred, except that the Court reduces
Williams's term of supervised release from ten years to
April 20, 2015, defendant Christopher Williams pleaded guilty
to conspiracy to commit sex trafficking in violation of 18
U.S.C. §§ 1594(c) and 1591(a). Williams waived
his right to appeal and collaterally challenge his conviction
and sentence, but he retained the right to raise a claim of
ineffective assistance of counsel in an appropriate
proceeding. The Court accepted the plea agreement and
sentenced Williams to 180 months of imprisonment followed by
ten years of supervised release. Williams's judgment was
entered on July 13, 2016,  and he did not appeal. Williams now
moves to vacate his sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255.
2255 of Title 28 of the United States Code provides that a
federal prisoner serving a court-imposed sentence “may
move the court which imposed the sentence to vacate, set
aside or correct the sentence.” 28 U.S.C. §
2255(a). Only a narrow set of claims are cognizable on a
Section 2255 motion. The statute identifies four bases on
which a 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. A claim of error that
is neither constitutional nor jurisdictional is not
cognizable in a Section 2255 proceeding unless the error
constitutes “a fundamental defect which inherently
results in a complete miscarriage of justice.”
United States v. Addonizio, 442 U.S. 178, 185 (1979)
(quoting Hill v. United States, 368 U.S. 424, 428
Section 2255 motion is filed, the district court must first
conduct a preliminary review. “If it plainly appears
from the motion, any attached exhibits, and the record of
prior proceedings that the moving party is not entitled to
relief, the judge must dismiss the motion . . . .”
Rules Governing Section 2255 Proceedings, Rule 4(b). If the
motion raises a non-frivolous claim to relief, the court must
order the Government to file a response or to take other
appropriate action. Id. The judge may then order the
parties to expand the record as necessary and, if good cause
is shown, authorize limited discovery. Id., Rules
reviewing the Government's answer, any transcripts and
records of prior proceedings, and any supplementary materials
submitted by the parties, the court must determine whether an
evidentiary hearing is warranted. Id., Rule 8. An
evidentiary hearing must be held “[u]nless the motion
and the files and records of the case conclusively show that
the prisoner is entitled to no relief.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255(b). No. evidentiary hearing is required if the
prisoner fails to produce any “independent indicia of
the likely merit of [his] allegations.” United
States v. Edwards, 442 F.3d 258, 264 (5th Cir. 2006)
(quoting United States v. Cervantes, 132 F.3d 1106,
1110 (5th Cir. 1998)).
the petitioner bears the burden of establishing his claims of
error by a preponderance of the evidence. Wright v.
United States, 624 F.2d 557, 558 (5th Cir. 1980). For
certain “structural” errors, relief follows
automatically once the error is proved. Brecht v.
Abrahamson, 507 U.S. 619, 629-30 (1993). For other
“trial” errors, the court may grant relief only
if the error “had substantial and injurious effect or
influence” in determining the outcome of the case.
Id. at 637-38 (citation omitted); see also
United States v. Chavez, 193 F.3d 375, 379 (5th Cir.
1999) (applying Brecht in a Section 2255
proceeding). 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).
Williams did not appeal this Court's judgment, his
conviction and sentence became final on July 27, 2016,
fourteen days after the Court's entry of judgment.
See Fed. R. App. P. 4(b)(1); United States v.
Scruggs, 691 F.3d 660, 669 (5th Cir. 2012) (“When
a defendant does not file a direct appeal, his conviction
becomes final on the day when the time for filing a direct
appeal expires.”). Section 2255(f) provides as follows:
1-year period of limitation shall apply to a motion under
this section. The limitation ...