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Foxworth v. United States

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

August 3, 2017

Gabriel Emanuel Foxworth, Petitioner,
v.
United States of America, Respondent. Civ. No. 4:17-cv-00601-RBH

          ORDER

          R. Bryan Harwell United States District Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on Petitioner Gabriel Emanuel Foxworth's pro se motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. See ECF No. 62. The Court denies the motion for the reasons herein.

         Background

         On October 26, 2015, Petitioner, represented by counsel, pleaded guilty pursuant to a written plea agreement to the following charges: (1) possession with intent to distribute a quantity of marijuana, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(D); and (2) possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A). See ECF Nos. 43, 45, & 46. In the plea agreement, Petitioner and the Government stipulated to a sentence of 156 months' (thirteen years') imprisonment pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1)(C). See ECF No. 43 at ¶ 14.

         On February 25, 2016, the Court accepted the stipulated sentence and sentenced Petitioner to 156 months' imprisonment, followed by a term of supervised release of five years. See ECF Nos. 53, 56, & 74. Judgment was entered on February 26, 2016. See ECF No. 56. Petitioner did not appeal the judgment.

         On February 26, 2017, [1] Petitioner filed the instant pro se motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. See ECF No. 62. On March 23, 2017, plea counsel (Henry Anderson, Jr.) filed a response addressing his representation of Petitioner. See ECF No. 69. On April 27, 2017, the Government filed a response in opposition and a Motion to Dismiss/Motion for Summary Judgment. See ECF Nos. 76 & 77. Petitioner did not file a reply to the Government's response.

         Summary Judgment Standard

         Summary judgment is appropriate when no genuine issue of material fact exists and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Reyazuddin v. Montgomery Cty., Md., 789 F.3d 407, 413 (4th Cir. 2015); see Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a) (“The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”). “A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by: (A) citing to particular parts of materials in the record . . .; or (B) showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). The facts and inferences to be drawn from the evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, Reyazuddin, 789 F.3d at 413, but the Court “cannot weigh the evidence or make credibility determinations.” Jacobs v. N.C. Admin. Office of the Courts, 780 F.3d 562, 569 (4th Cir. 2015).

         Moreover, “the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). “A dispute of material fact is ‘genuine' if sufficient evidence favoring the non-moving party exists for the trier of fact to return a verdict for that party.” Seastrunk v. United States, 25 F.Supp.3d 812, 814 (D.S.C. 2014). A fact is “material” if proof of its existence or nonexistence would affect disposition of the case under the applicable law. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.

         At the summary judgment stage, “the moving party must demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Once the moving party has met his burden, the nonmoving party must come forward with some evidence beyond the mere allegations contained in the pleadings to show that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Baber v. Hosp. Corp. of Am., 977 F.2d 872, 874-75 (4th Cir. 1992) (internal citation omitted). Summary judgment is not warranted unless, “from the totality of the evidence, including pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and affidavits, the [C]ourt believes no genuine issue of material fact exists for trial and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Whiteman v. Chesapeake Appalachia, L.L.C., 729 F.3d 381, 385 (4th Cir. 2013); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986).

         Applicable Law

         Prisoners in federal custody may attack the validity of their sentences pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. For a court to vacate, set aside, or correct a sentence under § 2255, a petitioner must prove one of the following occurred: (1) a sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States; (2) the court was without jurisdiction to impose such a sentence; (3) the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law; or (4) the sentence is otherwise subject to collateral attack. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). In deciding a § 2255 motion, the court may summarily dismiss the motion “[i]f it plainly appears from the motion, any attached exhibits, and the record of prior proceedings that the moving party is not entitled to relief.” Rules Governing Section 2255 Proceedings 4(b); see 28 U.S.C. § 2255(b) (a hearing is not required on a § 2255 motion if the record of the case conclusively shows the petitioner is not entitled to relief).

         “Generally, an evidentiary hearing is required under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 unless it is clear from the pleadings, files, and records that a movant is not entitled to relief.” United States v. Robinson, 238 F. App'x 954, 954-55 (4th Cir. 2007) (citing United States v. Witherspoon, 231 F.3d 923, 925-26 (4th Cir. 2000)). An evidentiary hearing “is required when a movant presents a colorable Sixth Amendment claim showing disputed material facts and a credibility determination is necessary to resolve the issue.” United States v. Coon, 205 F. App'x 972, 973 (4th Cir. 2006) (citing Witherspoon, 231 F.3d at 925-27).

         A guilty plea is a solemn, judicial admission of the truth of the charges against an individual; thus, a criminal defendant's right to contest the validity of such a plea is usually foreclosed. See Blackledge v. Allison,431 U.S. 63, 74 (1977). “If an appropriately conducted Rule 11 proceeding is to serve a meaningful function, on which the criminal justice system can rely, it must be recognized to raise a strong presumption that the plea is final and binding.” United States v. Lambey, 974 F.2d 1389, 1394 (4th Cir. 1992). Regarding an ineffective assistance of counsel claim presented after entry of a guilty plea, the defendant's statements made under oath at the plea hearing, affirming satisfaction ...


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