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Clyburn v. United States

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division

February 8, 2016

Trinity Jaquey Clyburn, Petitioner,
v.
United States of America, Respondent.

          ORDER

          TERRY L. WOOTEN, 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 Trinity Jaquey Clyburn ("Petitioner"). For the reasons stated below, the Court dismisses the petition.

         I. Factual and Procedural History

         Petitioner was a co-defendant named in a six count Indictment issued on December 13, 2005. ECF No. 2. Petitioner was charged in Counts 1 and 6 of the Indictment with drug offenses in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846. On March 31, 2006, the United States of America ("Government") filed an Information pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 851 notifying Petitioner that the Government was seeking enhanced penalties based upon Petitioner's prior conviction for trafficking crack cocaine thus subjecting Petitioner to a statutory mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years imprisonment. 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A). ECF No. 44.

         On June 5, 2006, pursuant to a written plea agreement, Petitioner pled guilty to Count 1 of the Indictment, Conspiracy to Distribute and Possession with Intent to Distribute 50 or More Grams of Cocaine Base and 5 Kilograms of Cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846, pursuant to a written plea agreement. ECF Nos. 50, 54. On May 31, 2007, the Court sentenced Petitioner as a career offender to 264 months imprisonment. ECF No. 85. The Presentence Investigation Report reflects that Petitioner was sentenced as a career offender under the United States Sentencing Guidelines ("U.S.S.G.") because he had two qualifying predicate state court convictions-Trafficking in Crack Cocaine and Discharging a Firearm into an Occupied Dwelling. Petitioner filed a Notice of Appeal on June 8, 2007, and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed his conviction and sentence on March 3, 2008. ECF Nos. 86, 103.

         On June 11, 2014, Petitioner filed this petition under Section 2255[1]. Relying upon Descamps v. United States, ___ U.S. ___, 133 S.Ct. 2276 (2013), Petitioner sets forth a single ground for relief-that he was erroneously sentenced as a career offender due to the improper classification of his conviction for trafficking in crack cocaine as a qualifying career offender predicate offense. ECF No. 159. On July 22, 2014, the Government filed its response and moved to dismiss the petition as untimely. ECF No. 163. The Government asserted that Descamps has not been made retroactive on collateral review. ECF No. 163-1. On August 11, 2014, Petitioner filed a response disagreeing with the Government's position. ECF No. 164. On September 11, 2015, Petitioner filed an additional response asserting that his categorization as a career offender is precluded by Johnson v. United States, ___ U.S. ___, 135 S.Ct. 2251 (2015). ECF No. 176.[2] Petitioner contends that under Johnson, neither of his prior offenses qualify as predicates under the Armed Career Criminal Act ("ACCA"), 18 U.S.C. § 924(e), and he should not have been sentenced as a career offender. The matter is now ripe for decision.

         II. 28 U.S.C. § 2255

         United States Code, Title 28, Section 2255 provides that a prisoner in custody under sentence of a federal court may file a petition in the court that imposed the sentence to vacate, set aside, or correct the sentence. The statute states four grounds upon which such relief may be claimed: (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; and (4) that the sentence is otherwise subject to collateral attack. 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Generally, "28 U.S.C. § 2255 requires [a] petitioner to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, or that the court was without jurisdiction to impose such sentence, or that the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law.'" Leano v. United States, 334 F.Supp.2d 885, 890 (D.S.C. 2004) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a)). In Leano, the District Court noted that this is "the proof needed to allege a constitutional error, " and that "[t]he 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, 334 F.Supp.2d at 890 (quoting United States v. Mikalajunas, 186 F.3d 490, 495-96 (4th Cir. 1999)). In deciding a 28 U.S.C. § 2255 motion, the court need not hold a hearing if "the motion and the files and record of the case conclusively show that the prisoner is entitled to no relief." 28 U.S.C. § 2255. This Court has thoroughly reviewed the motions, files, and records in this case, liberally construing Petitioner's pro se motion, and finds that no hearing is necessary.

         III. Standard of Review

         Petitioner brings this petition 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 questions which are squarely presented to a court may properly be addressed." Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387, 391 (4th Cir. 1990).

         IV. Discussion

         The Government argues that Petitioner's Section 2255 motion should be dismissed as untimely insomuch as it was filed more than one year after Petitioner's conviction became final. The Court agrees.

         A. Timeliness Under the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act

         The Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA") establishes a one-year period of limitation within which a petitioner must bring any federal habeas corpus petition. 28 U.S.C. § 2255. According to ...


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