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McDonald v. United States

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

July 3, 2017

EDWARD MCDONALD, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          ENTRY DISCUSSING 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

         For the reasons explained in this Entry, the motion of Edward McDonald for relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 must be denied and the action dismissed with prejudice. In addition, the Court finds that a certificate of appealability should not issue.

         I. The § 2255 motion

         Background

         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). A court may grant relief from a federal conviction or sentence pursuant to § 2255 “upon the ground that the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, or that the court was without jurisdiction to impose such sentence, or that the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law, or is otherwise subject to collateral attack.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). The scope of relief available under § 2255 is narrow, 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) (internal citations omitted).

         Edward McDonald filed this motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to challenge his sentence in No. 1:14-cr-81-JMS-DML-1. In his reply brief, McDonald states that he is only interested in vacating his plea agreement and sentence if it will entitle him to a shorter term of imprisonment. Otherwise, he asks this Court to do nothing.

         On April 23, 2014, petitioner Edward McDonald was charged in a multi-defendant Indictment in the Southern District of Indiana. Count 1 charged McDonald and a co-defendant with armed bank robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2113(a) and (d). Count 2 charged McDonald with brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 924(c)(1)(A)(ii) and 924(c)(1)(C)(i). McDonald was not charged in Count 3.

         On April 30, 2014, an initial hearing on the Indictment was scheduled before a United States Magistrate Judge in the Southern District of Indiana. Crim. Docket No. 33. The Court explained McDonald's rights, charges and penalties. McDonald was ordered detained at a hearing held on April 4, 2014.

         On February 4, 2015, McDonald filed a Petition to Enter a Plea of Guilty. Crim. Docket No. 46. In the Petition, McDonald represented to the Court that he had received a copy of the Indictment, read and discussed it with his attorney, understood the charges brought against him, and believed that his attorney was fully informed as to the facts surrounding the Indictment. He stated that his attorney had advised him of the punishment, and that he believed that his attorney had done all that anyone could do to counsel and assist him. McDonald made no claim of innocence but declared that his plea of guilty was offered freely and voluntarily and of his own accord. Petition, ¶¶ 4, 5, 6, 12, 13 and 14.

         On March 16, 2015, a plea agreement was filed pursuant to Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1)(C). Crim. Docket No. 54. McDonald agreed to plead guilty to Count 1 of the Indictment, and the government would move to dismiss Count 2 at sentencing. The parties agreed to a sentence of imprisonment of 288 months.

         On May 27, 2015, the Court held a change of plea and sentencing hearing. Crim. Docket No. 69. The Court found that McDonald was fully competent to enter a plea of guilty and that McDonald made his plea knowingly and voluntarily.

         After determining that the stipulated factual basis for the plea was supported by an independent basis in fact containing each essential element of the offense, the Court accepted McDonald's plea of guilty to Count 1 of the Indictment and adjudged him guilty. The Court sentenced McDonald to 288 months of imprisonment to be followed by one year of supervised release. McDonald was also assessed the mandatory special assessment of $100 and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $16, 193.00.

         As agreed, the government orally moved to dismiss Count 2 and the Court granted the motion. The Court entered a judgment of conviction on May 29, 2015. Crim. Docket No. 72.

         On March 10, 2016, McDonald filed a motion for post-conviction relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. On March 25, 2016, the Court directed the United States to respond to McDonald's 28 ...


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