United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division
PATRICK MICHAEL DUFFY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
West moves to vacate, set aside, or correct her federal
prison sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (ECF No. 2167).
The United States (“Government”) has filed a
motion to dismiss (ECF No. 2238). Having thoroughly reviewed
the motions and the record in this case, the Court finds this
matter suitable for disposition without a hearing. For the
reasons stated herein, the Court grants the Government's
motion and, consequently, dismisses West's § 2255
March 2013, West pled guilty to one count of conspiring to
possess various controlled substances with intent to
distribute them, see 21 U.S.C. § 846, and to
one count of using a firearm to murder a person during and in
relation to that conspiracy, see 18 U.S.C. §
924(c), (j). In July 2013, the Court sentenced West to 240
months on the drug conspiracy charge and to 292 months on the
§ 924 charge. Both terms were to be served concurrently.
West did not appeal.
filed her § 2255 motion in May 2016. The Government
responded with a motion to dismiss. West filed a response to
the Government's motion. Accordingly, this matter is now
ripe for consideration.
proceeds under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, which provides, in
A prisoner in custody under sentence of a court established
by Act of Congress claiming the right to be released upon the
ground that the sentence was imposed in violation of the
Constitution or laws of the United States . . . may move the
court which imposed the sentence to vacate, set aside or
correct the sentence.
28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). On a motion to vacate, set aside,
or correct a sentence under § 2255, the petitioner bears
the burden of proving the grounds for collateral attack by a
preponderance of the evidence. Miller v. United
States, 261 F.2d 546, 547 (4th Cir. 1958). In deciding a
§ 2255 motion, the district 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).
conducting the § 2255(b) review in this case, this Court
is mindful that pro se filings are held to a less
stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys,
Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir.
1978), and that federal courts must construe such pleadings
liberally to allow the development of potentially meritorious
claims, see Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9 (1980)
(per curiam). The liberal construction requirement, however,
does not mean courts can ignore a clear failure to allege
facts that set forth claims cognizable in federal district
court. See Weller v. Dep't of Soc.
Servs., 901 F.2d 387, 391 (4th Cir. 1990).
ten-paragraph memorandum, West asserts that her § 924
conviction is unconstitutional after Johnson v. United
States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015), that she did not in fact
kill the victim or know in advance that her co-defendants
planned to murder him, and that her counsel provided
ineffective assistance. The Government contends West's
Johnson claim lacks merit and her remaining claims
are untimely. For the following reasons, the Court agrees
with the Government.
Timeliness of Claims
2255 sets a one-year limitation period for bringing claims.