United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
D. Whitney Chief United States District Judge.
MATTER is before the Court upon the United
States' “Consent Motion to Dismiss”
Petitioner Thomas Donnell Sifford's Petition for a Writ
of Habeas Corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 or a Writ of
Error Coram Nobis. (Doc. No. 7.) Sifford is represented by
Federal Defenders of Western North Carolina, Inc. According
to the Motion, Sifford consents to this dismissal. (Mot. to
Dismiss 1, 5 n.1, Doc. No. 7.)
2007, a grand jury indicted Sifford, charging him with
possession with intent to distribute cocaine and at least
five grams of cocaine base in violation of 21 U.S.C. §
841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(B) (Count One), and possession of
ammunition by a felon in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
922(g)(1) (Count Two). Crim. Doc. No. 1. The United States
filed an information pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 851,
noticing Sifford's two prior North Carolina state
convictions-one for possession with intent to sell/deliver
cocaine and one for possession with intent to sell/deliver
marijuana. Crim. Doc. No. 12. Sifford pleaded guilty to both
counts, and this Court sentenced him to 132 months of
imprisonment and eight years of supervised release on Count
One and 120 months of imprisonment and two years of
supervised release on Count Two, with the sentences to run
concurrently. Crim. Doc. Nos. 25 & 30. Sifford appealed,
and the Fourth Circuit affirmed. United States v.
Sifford, 330 Fed.Appx. 46 (4th Cir.), cert.
denied, 129 S.Ct. 2885 (2009).
filed his first motion to vacate under § 2255 on
November 5, 2010. Sifford v. United States,
3:10-cv-00596-RJC (W.D. N.C. ), Doc. No. 1. In March 2011,
the Court dismissed the motion as untimely. Id. at
Doc. No. 4.
January 2012, Sifford filed a second motion to vacate,
arguing that under United States v. Simmons, 649
F.3d 237 (4th Cir. 2011), the § 851 enhancement was
invalid and that he should be resentenced. United States
v. Sifford, No. 3:12-cv-00019-RJC (W.D. N.C. ), Doc. No.
1. The Court dismissed the motion as an unauthorized
successive motion to vacate. Id. at Doc. No. 3.
September 2013, Sifford filed a § 2241 petition
attacking his § 841 and § 922(g) sentences under
United States v. Simmons, 649 F.3d 237 (4th Cir.
2011) (en banc). Sifford v. United States, No.
3:13-cv-00541-FDW (W.D. N.C. Sept. 26, 2013), Doc. No. 1. The
Court held that because Sifford was challenging only the
validity of his § 841 sentence, rather than his
underlying conviction, he was not entitled to relief under
§ 2241. Id., Doc. No. 7 at 4-5. The Court also
denied coram nobis relief because Sifford was still in
custody and audita querela relief because there was no gap in
postconviction remedies. Id. at 5-6. However, the
Court held that Sifford was entitled to relief from his
§ 922(g) conviction because, under Simmons, the
conduct for which he was convicted was no longer deemed
criminal. Id. at 6. Accordingly, the Court vacated
Sifford's § 922(g) conviction and sentence.
moved for reconsideration, arguing that the vacatur of his
§ 922(g) conviction and sentence resulted in a corrected
judgment that was part of his criminal case and allowed the
Court to address the erroneous sentence on the other count.
Id. at Doc. No. 10. The Court dismissed the motion
as an unauthorized successive application. Id. at
Doc. No. 11.
months later, in December 2013, Sifford filed a third §
2255 motion again attacking his drug sentence under
Simmons. Sifford v. United States,
3:14-cv-00001-RJC (W.D. N.C. 2013), Doc. No. 1. This Court
dismissed the motion as an unauthorized successive motion,
id. at Doc. No. 3, and the Fourth Circuit denied a
certificate of appealability and dismissed his appeal,
id. at Doc. No. 7.
later, the Court reduced Sifford's sentence to 120 months
of imprisonment based on the retroactive amendment of the
Sentencing Guidelines relating to cocaine base. Crim. Doc.
No. 67. The day after this reduction, Sifford filed a fourth
§ 2255 motion, again arguing that his § 851
enhancement was invalid under Simmons, that the
vacatur of his firearm conviction changed the guideline
range, and that the Court should vacate his sentence.
Sifford v. United States, No. 3:14-cv-00705-RJC
(W.D. N.C. ), Doc. No. 1. He asserted, citing United
States v. Hairston, 754 F.3d 258, 262 (4th Cir. 2014),
that his motion was not successive. Sifford was released from
prison a month later and began serving his term of supervised
release. This Court denied Sifford's motion as moot.
Id. at Doc. No. 7.
February 2017, Sifford filed a motion in his criminal case
for a writ of error coram nobis, seeking to vacate his
§841 conviction. Crim. Doc. No. 77. He argued that his
guilty plea was involuntary, that he had received ineffective
assistance of counsel, and that his sentence was illegal.
Id. at 4. This Court denied the motion, holding that
because Sifford had had the opportunity to seek relief under
§ 2255, he was not entitled to relief under coram nobis.
Crim. Doc. No. 78.
2018, Sifford filed the instant § 2241 petition, again
asserting that his sentence under §841 is improper under
Simmons and seeking to vacate his eight-year term of
supervised release. (§ 2241 Pet. 1, Doc. No. 1.)
Alternatively, he again seeks a writ of error coram nobis.
Id. at 5-7.
7, 2019, the parties filed a joint motion to terminate
supervised release in the criminal case before the Honorable
Robert J. Conrad, Jr. Crim. Doc. No. 95. The undersigned
granted the Government's motion to stay the proceedings
in this civil action pending disposition of that motion.
(Mot. to Stay, Doc. No. 6; Gavel Order, Dkt. entry of May 8,
2019.) On May 23, 2019, the Court granted the parties'
joint motion and terminated Sifford's term of supervised
release. Crim. Doc. No. 96.