United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
D. Whitney Chief United States District Judge
matter is before the Court on Petitioner's Petition for
Relief Under 28 U.S.C. § 2241, that alternatively seeks
a petition for writ of coram nobis or audita
querela, filed on his behalf by counsel, (Doc. No. 1).
Petitioner seeks relief from his sentence on the basis of the
Fourth Circuit's en banc decision in United
States v. Simmons, 649 F.3d 237 (4th Cir. 2011). The
Respondent has filed a Motion to Dismiss, (Doc. No. 12),
arguing that the Simmons claim is moot because
Petitioner is now serving a presidentially commuted sentence.
For the reasons that follow, the petition will be dismissed
21, 2006, following a guilty plea, the Court adjudicated
Petitioner guilty of: Count (1), conspiracy to possess with
intent to distribute cocaine base; and (Count (2), using and
carrying a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime
and aiding and abetting the same. (Case No. 3:04-cr-296, Doc.
No. 36). The Court sentenced Petitioner to life imprisonment
for Count (1) and 60 months, consecutive, for Count (2),
followed by a total of 10 years of supervised release.
(3:04-cr-296, Doc. No. 36). The United States Court of
Appeals for the Fourth Circuit denied the Government's
motion to dismiss Petitioner's appeal based on the
appellate waiver in his plea agreement, but affirmed the
Court's judgment on March 11, 2008. United States v.
Williams, 269 Fed.Appx. 279 (4th Cir. 2008).
The mandate issued on April 2, 2008. (Case No. 3:04-cr-296,
Doc. No. 75).
filed a Motion to Vacate pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 on
June 4, 2009, case number 3:09-cv-234-RJC, which the Court
dismissed after finding that counsel was not ineffective.
Williams v. United States, 2010 WL 3619426 (W.D.
N.C. Sept. 9, 2010). The Court declined to issue a
certificate of appealability. Williams v. United
States, 2010 WL 4226159 (W.D. N.C. Oct. 21, 2010). The
Fourth Circuit dismissed Petitioner's appeal on February
18, 2011. United States v. Williams, 411 Fed.Appx.
659 (4th Cir. 2011).
filed a second § 2255 motion to vacate on August 16,
2012, case number 3:12-cv-589-RJC. The Court dismissed the
motion to vacate as an unauthorized second or successive
§ 2255 petition on June 10, 2013. Williams v. United
States, 2013 WL 2480256 (W.D. N.C. June 10, 2013).
April 18, 2017, the President of the United States issued an
Executive Grant of Clemency that commuted Petitioner's
total sentence of imprisonment to 228 months'
imprisonment, leaving intact the 10-year term of supervised
release. (3:04-cr-296, Doc. No. 116).
filed the instant § 2241 petition through counsel on
September 16, 2013. (Doc. No. 1). The Government filed a
Response arguing that Petitioner is not eligible for relief
under § 2255 because it would be successive, however, he
is entitled to relief pursuant to § 2241 and the savings
clause because his life sentence for Count (1) is based on a
prior conviction that no longer qualifies as a felony
conviction after Simmons. (Doc. No. 7).
20, 2017, the Respondent filed an unopposed motion to stay
the instant proceedings pending the Fourth Circuit's
resolution of United States v. Surratt, No. 14-6851,
that the Court granted on August 14, 2017. (Doc. No. 9). On
January 4, 2018, the Respondent filed a Case Status Report
informing the Court that, on December 11, 2017, the Supreme
Court denied the petition for writ of certiorari.
Surratt, 138 S.Ct. 554 (2017); (Doc. No. 12). On
January 9, 2018, Respondent filed a Motion to Dismiss arguing
that the instant petition is now moot because Petitioner is
now serving a presidentially commuted sentence. (Doc. No.
12). Petitioner has not responded to the Motion to Dismiss.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
4(b) of the Rules Governing Section 2255 Proceedings provides
that courts are to promptly examine motions to vacate, along
with “any attached exhibits and the record of prior
proceedings . . .” in order to determine whether the
petitioner is entitled to any relief on the claims set forth
therein. After examining the record in this matter, the Court
finds that the motion to vacate can be resolved without a
response from the Government and without an evidentiary
hearing based on the record and governing case law. See
Raines v. United States, 423 F.2d 526, 529 (4th Cir.
arguendo, that the Petition seeking relief from his
life sentence is neither successive nor untimely, it must
nevertheless be dismissed as moot.
life sentence has been reduced via presidential clemency
order and he asserts no collateral consequences upon which
§ 2241 relief should be granted, so no case or
controversy presently exists. Accord United States v.
Hardy, 545 F.3d 280, 284 (4th Cir. 2008); Moore v.
United States, 2015 WL 1959557 at ...