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Fulton v. United States

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

November 7, 2018

Theodore Fulton, Petitioner,
v.
United States of America, Respondent.

          AMENDED ORDER AND OPINION [1]

         This matter is before the court on Petitioner Theodore Fulton' spro se Motion to Vacate, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (ECF No. 914), and the Government's Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 932). For the reasons stated herein, the court DENIES Petitioner's Motion to Vacate (ECF No. 914) and DENIES as moot the Government's Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 932).

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On August 6, 2014, Petitioner was indicted for one count of conspiracy to unlawfully possess with intent to distribute and to distribute oxycodone in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and two counts of knowingly, intentionally, and unlawfully possessing with intent to distribute and distributing a quantity of oxycodone within 1000 feet of a school in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 860(a). (See ECF No. 1.) On January 5, 2015, Petitioner pled guilty to Count One of the Superseding Indictment (ECF No. 182). (ECF No. 343.)

         In December 2015, Petitioner substantially assisted the Government by testifying during the prosecution of other persons involved in the conspiracy. (ECF No. 855 ¶ 8.) Because of Petitioner's cooperation, the Government moved for a sentence reduction based upon substantial assistance to the Government. (ECF No. 716.)

         On January 9, 2017, Petitioner was sentenced to 110 months in prison (ECF No. 856).

         On January 29, 2018, Petitioner filed this Motion To Vacate (ECF No. 914), which he supplemented with a Memorandum in Support on May 3, 2018 (ECF No. 926).[2] On June 4, 2018, the Government filed a Response in Opposition (ECF No. 931) and a Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 932).[3] Petitioner replied to the Government's Response (ECF No. 933) and filed a Response in Opposition to the Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 936).

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         A prisoner in federal custody and under sentence of a federal court may petition the court that imposed the sentence to vacate, set aside, or correct the sentence. See 28 U.S.C. § 2255. The prisoner may be entitled to relief upon a showing that: (1) the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States; (2) the court was without jurisdiction to impose such sentence; (3) the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law; or (4) the sentence is otherwise subject to collateral attack. Id. A petitioner collaterally attacking his sentence or conviction pursuant to § 2255 bears the burden of proving the grounds for the attack by a preponderance of the evidence. White v. United States, 352 F.Supp.2d 684, 686 (E.D. Va. 2004) (citing Miller v. United States, 261 F.2d 546 (4th Cir. 1958)). In ruling on a § 2255 motion, the court may dismiss the motion without a hearing when "it plainly appears from the motion, any attached exhibits, and the record of prior proceeding, that the moving party is not entitled to relief." 28 U.S.C. § 2255(b).

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, a one-year period of limitation applies to a motion to vacate. § 2255(f). The limitation period begins with the latest of:

(1) the date on which the judgment of conviction becomes final; (2) the date on which the impediment to making a motion created by governmental action in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States is removed, if the movant was prevented from making a motion by such governmental action; (3) the date on which the right asserted was initially recognized by the Supreme Court, if that right has been newly recognized by the Supreme Court and made retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review; or (4) the date on which the facts supporting the claim or claims presented could have been discovered through the exercise of due diligence.

§ 2255(f)(1)-(4).

         Petitioner is a pro se litigant, so the court is required to liberally construe his arguments. Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978); see also Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972) (holding a pro se plaintiffs "inartful pleadings" may be sufficient to provide the opportunity to offer supporting evidence).

         III. ANALYSIS

         Petitioner was sentenced on January 4, 2017 (ECF No. 852), and judgment was entered on January 9, 2017 (ECF No. 856). Under §2255(f), the one-year period of limitations began on January 9, 2018.[4] Petitioner filed his Motion on January 29, 2018 (ECF No. 914), ...


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