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Talley v. USA

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division

June 5, 2017

THRESA A. TALLEY, Petitioner,
v.
USA, Respondent.

          ENTRY DENYING MOTION FOR RELIEF PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 2255 AND DENYING CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY

          Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge United States District Court

         Petitioner Thresa Talley's motion for relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 must be denied and the action dismissed with prejudice for the reasons set forth below. In addition, the Court finds that a certificate of appealability should not issue.

         I. The § 2255 Motion

         Background

         On April 7, 2015, Ms. Talley was charged in an eleven-count Indictment in No. 2:15-cr-00007-JMS-CMM-4. Ms. Talley signed a Petition to Enter a Plea of Guilty and Plea Agreement pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1)(A) and (B) on January 11, 2016. See Filing No. 350. In the Plea Agreement, Ms. Talley agreed to plead guilty of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine. The Plea Agreement stated that Count 1 is punishable with a sentence of no less than 10 years' imprisonment. However, the parties did not agree upon a sentence and each reserved the right to present evidence and arguments as to the appropriate sentence.

         The Court held a change of plea and sentencing hearing on June 20, 2016, during which the Court advised Ms. Talley of her rights, concluded that there was a factual basis for the guilty plea, accepted the Plea Agreement, and adjudged Ms. Talley guilty of Count One. The Court sentenced Ms. Talley to 87 months' imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release.

         On September 28, 2016, Ms. Talley filed the instant motion for post-conviction relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. In her motion, she requests a sentence reduction and argues that her counsel provided ineffective assistance in three respects. The United States responded to Ms. Talley's motion. Ms. Talley, however, did not reply, and the time do to so has passed.

         Discussion

         A motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 is the presumptive means by which a federal prisoner can challenge her conviction or sentence. See Davis v. United States, 417 U.S. 333, 343 (1974). In her § 2255 motion, Ms. Talley raises two claims. The Court will address each in turn.

         A. Sentence Reduction

         Ms. Talley requests a reduction in sentence, arguing that her "sentencing term of 120 months is far beyond the scope of reasonable[ness], fairness, [and] justice." Filing No. 1 at 2. Notably, she makes this argument even though the Court sentenced her to 87 months' imprisonment, not 120 months' imprisonment as she suggests.

         The United States maintains that any request for sentencing reduction is barred by Ms. Talley's waiver of such claim in the Plea Agreement. Specifically, Ms. Talley agreed in the Plea Agreement to "not contest, or seek to modify, [her] conviction or sentence or the manner in which either was determined in any proceeding, including but not limited to, an action brought under 18 U.S.C. §3582 or 28 U.S.C. §2255." Filing No. 350 at 11.

         "A defendant may validly waive both [the] right to a direct appeal and [the] right to collateral review under § 2255 as part of h[er] plea agreement." Keller v. United States, 657 F.3d 675, 681 (7th Cir. 2011). Such waivers are upheld and enforced with limited exceptions in cases in which (1) "the plea agreement was involuntary, " (2) "the district court relied on a constitutionally impermissible factor (such as race), " (3) "the sentence exceeded the statutory maximum, " or (4) the defendant claims ineffective assistance of counsel in relation to the negotiation of the plea agreement. Id. (internal quotations omitted); see United States v. Smith, 759 F.3d 702, 706 (7th Cir. 2014). None of these exceptions apply, nor does Ms. Talley even argue that they do. Accordingly, the United States is correct that Ms. Talley's request for a sentence reduction is barred by the collateral attack waiver in her Plea Agreement.[1]

         B. Ineffective ...


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