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Briggs v. United States

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division

May 20, 2015

LAKEIA GARI BRIGGS, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent. Criminal No. 1:09-cr-00013-MR-2

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER

MARTIN REIDINGER, District Judge.

THIS MATTER is before the Court on Petitioner's "Motion to Vacate Sentence under Simmons; Petition for Relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255; Alternative Petition for Relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2241; Alternative Petition for Writ of Coram Nobis; and Alternative Petition for Writ of Audita Querela " [Doc. 1] and the Government's Motion to Dismiss [Doc. 9]. For the reasons that follow, the Court will dismiss the petition and grant the Government's motion to dismiss.

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Petitioner Lakeia Gari Briggs was indicted by the Grand Jury for the Western District of North Carolina on February 17, 2009, and charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute crack cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 846, and using a communication facility in committing the drug-trafficking conspiracy offense, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 843(b). [Criminal Case No. 1:09-cr-00013-MR-2, Doc. 12: Indictment]. Three months later, Petitioner entered into a plea agreement with the Government and pleaded guilty to the drug-trafficking offense. [ Id., Doc. 213 at 1: Plea Agreement].

In the plea agreement, the parties stipulated that more than 50 but less than 150 grams of crack was reasonably foreseeable to Petitioner during her participation in the conspiracy. [Id. at 2]. Also in the parties' agreement, Petitioner agreed to waive her right to seek collateral review of her sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 "and similar authorities, " except on the bases of prosecutorial misconduct or ineffective assistance of counsel. [Id. at 5]. Before Petitioner's sentencing hearing, the probation office prepared a Presentence Report ("PSR"), in which the probation officer calculated a total offense level of 34 based, in part, on Petitioner's classification as a career offender under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1. [ Id., Doc. 406 at ¶¶ 24; 26: PSR]. This offense level, combined with a criminal history category of VI, resulted in an advisory Sentencing Guidelines range of imprisonment of between 262 and 327 months in prison. [Id. at ¶ 90]. Also prior to Petitioner's sentencing hearing, the Government filed a motion for a downward departure pursuant to Sentencing Guidelines § 5K1.1 and 18 U.S.C. § 3553(e), requesting that this Court depart downward the equivalent of three offense levels, and based thereon sentence Petitioner within a Guidelines range of 188 to 235 months in prison. [ Id., Doc. 387: Motion for Downward Departure].

This Court granted the Government's motion and sentenced Petitioner to 188 months in prison, explaining that "the nature of [the] offense and [Petitioner's] participation in [the] offense, when considering the seriousness of the offense and the need to promote respect for the law and afford deterrence not just to [Petitioner] but to others, " warranted a sentence at the low end of the advisory Guidelines range "as revised because of the 5K1.1 motion." [ Id., Doc. 480 at 13; 15: Sentencing Tr.]. This Court entered its judgment on November 4, 2009. [ Id., Doc. 414: Judgment].

Petitioner appealed, and the Fourth Circuit dismissed her appeal, entering its mandate on August 12, 2010. [ Id., Docs. 429; 548; 557]. Nearly three years later, on July 11, 2013, Petitioner filed a motion to vacate her sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, or, alternatively, seeking relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 or the writs of error coram nobis and audita querela. Petitioner argues that her sentence was improperly enhanced based on her career-offender status because she had only one prior conviction for an offense punishable by more than one year in prison, as established by the Fourth Circuit's en banc decision in United v. Simmons, 649 F.3d 237 (4th Cir. 2011).

On June 17, 2014, the Government moved to hold this matter in abeyance pending the rehearing en banc in Whiteside v. United States, No. 13-7152, by the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. [Doc. 5]. The Court granted the Government's motion on June 19, 2014. [Doc. 6]. Following the en banc decision in Whiteside, the Government filed a motion to dismiss the Petitioner's motion to vacate and alternative petitions. [Doc. 9].

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Pursuant to Rule 4(b) of the Rules Governing Section 2255 Proceedings, sentencing courts are directed to promptly examine motions to vacate, along with "any attached exhibits and the record of prior proceedings" in order to determine whether a petitioner is entitled to any relief. After having considered the record in this matter, the Court finds that this matter can be resolved without an evidentiary hearing. See Raines v. United States, 423 F.2d 526, 529 (4th Cir. 1970).

III. DISCUSSION

On April 24, 1996, Congress enacted the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (the "AEDPA"). Among other things, the AEDPA amended 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to include a one-year statute of limitations period for the filing of a motion to vacate. The limitation period runs from the latest 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 ...

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