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Watson v. United States

United States District Court, District of South Carolina, Florence Division

April 14, 2015

David Brandon Watson, PETITIONER
v.
United States of America, RESPONDENT Crim. No. 4:08-cr-01251-TLW

ORDER

Terry L. Wooten Chief United States District Judge

This matter comes before the Court for consideration of the pro se motion to vacate, set aside, or correct a sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 filed by Petitioner David Brandon Watson. For the reasons stated below, the Court dismisses the motion.

I. Factual and Procedural History

Petitioner was charged in a four-count indictment with (1) possession with intent to distribute a quantity of cocaine and a quantity of marijuana; (2) possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime; (3) felon in possession; and (4) possession of a sawed-off shotgun. After being released on bond, he absconded and a bench warrant was issued. He was not taken back into custody for over a year and a half.

After Petitioner was arrested on the bench warrant, his counsel filed a suppression motion. After a full hearing and thorough cross-examination of the Government’s witnesses by defense counsel, the Court denied the motion.

After the Court denied the suppression motion, Petitioner pled guilty to Counts 1 and 2. The Court sentenced him to a total aggregate sentence of 90 months.[1]

Petitioner filed a direct appeal. After reviewing the issues raised by Petitioner and by counsel in his Anders brief, and after reviewing the record pursuant to Anders, the Fourth Circuit affirmed. United States v. Watson, 482 F. App’x 837, 839 (4th Cir. 2012).

On September 3, 2013, [2] Petitioner timely filed this § 2255 motion, asserting that he is entitled to relief based on ineffective assistance of counsel. ECF No. 96. The Government filed a response in opposition and a motion for summary judgment, ECF Nos. 104, 105, and trial counsel filed an affidavit, ECF No. 103. Petitioner did not file a reply.

This matter is now ripe for decision.

II. 28 U.S.C. § 2255

Title 28, Section 2255 of the United States Code provides that a prisoner in custody under sentence of a federal court may file a motion in the court that imposed the sentence to vacate, set aside, or correct the sentence. A petitioner is entitled to relief under § 2255 if he proves by a preponderance of the evidence one of the following: (1) that the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States; (2) that the court was without jurisdiction to impose such sentence; (3) that the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law; or (4) that the sentence is otherwise subject to collateral attack. See 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a); Miller v. United States, 261 F.2d 546, 547 (4th Cir. 1958) (per curiam). “The scope of review of non-constitutional error is more limited than that of constitutional error; a non-constitutional error does not provide a basis for collateral attack unless it involves ‘a fundamental defect which inherently results in a complete miscarriage of justice, ’ or is ‘inconsistent with the rudimentary demands of fair procedure.’” Leano v. United States, 334 F.Supp.2d 885, 890 (D.S.C. 2004) (quoting United States v. Mikalajunas, 186 F.3d 490, 495-96 (4th Cir. 1999)).

In deciding a § 2255 motion, a court need not hold a hearing if “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). The Court has thoroughly reviewed the motions, files, and records in this case, liberally construing Petitioner’s pro se filings, and finds that no hearing is necessary.

III. Standard of Review

Petitioner brings this motion pro se. Courts are required to construe liberally pleadings filed by pro se litigants to allow for the development of potentially meritorious claims. See Boag v. MacDougall 454 U.S. 364, 365 (1982) (per curiam). These pleadings are held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys. See Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978). However, “[t]he ‘special judicial solicitude’ with which a district court should view such pro se complaints does not transform the court into an advocate. Only those ...


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