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Richmond v. United States

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

June 5, 2017

ERIC Q. RICHMOND, Petitioner,


          TANYA WALTON PRATT, JUDGE United States District Court

         This matter is before the Court on the Amended Motion to Vacate, Set Aside or Correct Sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (Dkt. 4), filed by Petitioner Eric Richmond ("Richmond"). For the reasons explained in this Entry, the Amended Motion for Relief is denied and the action dismissed with prejudice. In addition, the Court finds that a certificate of appealability should not issue.

         I. THE § 2255 MOTION

         A. Background

         On June 20, 2012, Richmond was charged in criminal docket No. 1:12-cr-96-TWP-MJD-01 ("Crim. Dkt.") with one count of possession with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). The matter was set for trial by jury on May 6, 2013, and Richmond filed a Motion to Suppress on April 2, 2013. (Crim. Dkt. 37.) Specifically, Richmond sought to suppress all evidence obtained from a search of his vehicle during a routine traffic stop and any statements that he made prior to being read his Miranda rights. Because of the close proximity to the trial date, the Court ordered expedited briefing on the Motion to Suppress. Richmond challenged the factual basis relied upon by police officers to support probable cause for the search of his vehicle. In his motion to suppress, Richmond did not contest the fact that he committed one or more traffic violations prior to being stopped by a police officer, rather, he argued the evidence seized from his vehicle should be suppressed because it was obtained during a warrantless search and there was no probable cause for the search, thus violating the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. In particular, Richmond denied that there was an odor of marijuana in his vehicle at the time of the stop, that he possessed any marijuana at the time of the stop, that he or anyone else had smoked marijuana in his car the day of the stop, or that he admitted to smoking marijuana prior to the stop. However, the videotaped evidence of the stop showed otherwise.

         Following the denial of his Motion to Suppress on April 25, 2013 (Crim. Dkt. 47), Richmond filed a Petition to Enter a Plea of Guilty that same date, without the benefit of a plea agreement. A hearing on the Petition to change his plea to guilty was conducted on August 14, 2013. Richmond was placed under oath and examined concerning his Petition to Enter a Plea of Guilty. The Court determined that Richmond was competent to enter a plea of guilty and that his plea was made knowingly and voluntarily. At the conclusion of the hearing, the plea of guilty was accepted and Richmond was adjudged guilty.

         The Court then proceeded to impose sentence. During the sentencing hearing, Richmond's counsel argued successfully that the Court should not apply a two level increase for the obstruction of justice adjustment, as argued by the Government and recommended by the probation officer. The Court, however, did not apply the two level decrease for acceptance of responsibility under U.S.S.G § 3El.l(a), finding that Richmond had falsely denied or frivolously contested relevant conduct that the court determined to be true, inconsistent with acceptance of responsibility. See Application note 1(A). The Court sentenced Richmond within the advisory guideline range to 125 months, which was formally entered on the clerk's docket on August 20, 2013.

         Richmond did not appeal his conviction or his sentence; however, on April 21, 2016, Richmond's sentence was reduced to 120 months pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2). Richmond now seeks relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255.

         B. Legal Standard

         A § 2255 motion is the presumptive means by which a federal prisoner can challenge his conviction or sentence. See Davis v. United States, 417'U.S. 333, 3 43 (1974). The parameters of relief pursuant to § 2255 were reviewed in Young v. United States, 124 F.3d 794, 796 (7th Cir. 1997):

Section 2255 is not a way to advance arguments that could have been presented earlier-especially not when the arguments rest entirely on a statute. See Reed v. Farley, 512 U.S. 339, 114 S.Ct. 2291, 129 L.Ed.2d 277 (1994). Although sec. 2255 para. 1 permits a collateral attack on the ground that "the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, " only a small portion of statutory claims demonstrate that the sentence or conviction is itself a violation of law. The error must be so fundamental that a "complete miscarriage of justice" has occurred. Reed, 512 U.S. at 348, quoting from Hill v. United States, 368 U.S. 424, 428, 82 S.Ct. 468, 7 L.Ed.2d 417 (1962). Other "non-constitutional errors which could have been raised on appeal but were not, are barred on collateral review-regardless of cause and prejudice." Bontkowski v. United States, 850 F.2d 306, 313 (7th Cir. 1988).

         Thus, relief pursuant to § 2255 is limited to an error of law that is jurisdictional, constitutional, or constitutes a fundamental defect which inherently results in a complete miscarriage of justice. Borre v. United States, 940 F.2d 215, 217 (7th Cir. 1991).

         In order for a plea to be valid, it must be made voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently. United States v. Hays, 397 F.3d 564, 567 (7th Cir. 2005) (citing United States v. Gilliam, 255 F.3d 428, 432-33 (7th Cir. 2001)). A plea is voluntary when it is not induced by threats or misrepresentations, and the defendant is made aware of the direct consequences of the plea. United States v. Jordan, 870 F.2d 1310, 1317 (7th Cir. 1989) (citing Brady v. United States, 397 U.S. 742, 755 (1970)).

         II. ...

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