United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, New Albany Division
DONALD P. ELDRIDGE, Petitioner,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.
ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR RELIEF PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255 AND DENYING CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY
WALTON PRATT, JUDGE
matter is before the Court on a Motion Under 28 U.S.C. §
2255 to Vacate, Set Aside or Correct Sentence, filed by
pro se Petitioner Donald P. Eldridge
(“Eldridge”) (Dkt. ). For the reasons
explained in this Order, the Motion is
denied and dismissed with prejudice. In
addition, the Court finds that a certificate of appealability
should not issue.
SECTION 2255 MOTION STANDARDS
motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 is the presumptive
means by which a federal prisoner can challenge his
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
September 24, 2014, Eldridge was charged in a three-count
Indictment, United States v. Eldridge, No.
4:14-cr-00024-TWP-WGH-1 (S.D. Ind. Sept. 24, 2014)
(hereinafter “Crim. Dkt.”), Crim. Dkt. . The
three counts included Count One: possession with the intent
to distribute methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C.
§§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(C); Count Two: carrying a
firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A)(i); and Count
Three: possession of a firearm by a felon in violation of 18
U.S.C. § 922(g)(1).
December 9, 2014, with the assistance of counsel, Eldridge
filed a petition to enter a guilty plea. Crim. Dkt. . A
plea agreement was docketed on April 2, 2015. Crim. Dkt.
; Crim. Dkt.  (sealed addendum). The plea agreement,
entered pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure
11(c)(1)(A) and 11(c)(1)(B), provided that Eldridge would
plead guilty to counts one and two of his Indictment, and at
the time of sentencing, the United States would move to
dismiss the remaining count in the Indictment. Crim. Dkt.
 at 1.
plea agreement explained that Eldridge's drug offense
under Count One would ordinarily be punishable by a sentence
of no more than 20 years' imprisonment; a fine of not
more than $1, 000, 000.00, and a period of supervised release
of not more than three years following any term of
imprisonment. Id. at 1-2. However, the United States
had filed an information pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 851
alleging that Eldridge had a prior felony drug conviction.
Thus, the maximum penalties for Count One were a term of
imprisonment of not more than thirty years, a fine of up to
$2, 000, 000.00, and a term of supervised release of not less
than six years following any term of imprisonment.
Id. at 2. Eldridge's firearm offense under Count
Two was punishable by a sentence of not less than five years
that must be imposed consecutively to the sentence in Count
One. Id. Eldridge's firearm offense had a
statutory maximum term of life sentence.
parties did not stipulate as to terms of his sentence.
Rather, Eldridge agreed and stated that he understood that
the Court would use its discretion to fashion a sentence
within the statutory ranges. Id. at 3. He also
agreed and understood that the Court would take into account
the United States Sentencing Guidelines (“U.S.S.G.
“ or “the Guidelines”) in determining the
appropriate sentence within the statutory range, but that the
Guidelines are only advisory in nature, and thus the final
determination of the sentence would be made by the Court.
plea agreement, Eldridge stipulated that he had at least two
prior felony convictions: a conviction for Burglary - Second
Degree in 08-CR-000979 (Jefferson Circuit Court, Kentucky) on
or about March 20, 2008, and convictions for Trafficking in a
Controlled Substance (Oxycodone) and Trafficking in Marijuana
(greater than five pounds) in 11-CR-001605 (Jefferson Circuit
Court, Kentucky) on or about June 21, 2011. Id. at
4. The parties agreed that Eldridge was entitled to a three
level reduction for his acceptance of responsibility,
see U.S.S.G. § 3E1.1, and the United States
intended to argue that Eldridge's overall Guidelines
range should be 262-327 months' imprisonment under the
U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1(c)(2)(B) and (c)(3). Id. at 5.
Eldridge waived his right to appeal or otherwise challenge
his conviction or sentence, except that he retained the right
to challenge on appeal the Court's decision at sentencing
regarding a Career Offender designation under U.S.S.G. §
4B1.1 and any claims of ineffective assistance of counsel.
Id. at 6.
change of plea and sentencing hearing was held on April 13,
2015, at which Eldridge's plea of guilty was accepted.
Crim. Dkt. . The Court sentenced Eldridge to 100
months' imprisonment on the drug trafficking conviction
and a consecutive 60 month sentence on the firearm conviction
for a total of 160 months imprisonment. Crim. Dkt. .
Judgment was entered on April 23, 2015. Id.
November 21, 2016, Eldridge filed the instant Motion to
vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2255 and memorandum in support thereof. Dkt.
; Dkt. . He supplemented his Motion on May 15, 2017,
and May 24, 2017. Dkt. ; Dkt. . The United States
responded in opposition. Dkt. . Eldridge has not filed a
reply, and the time to do so has passed.
challenges the sentence imposed. He argues that he should not
have received the career offender enhancement under U.S.S.G.
§ 4B1.1 given the United States Supreme Court's
decisions in Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct.
2551 (2015), and Mathis v. United States, 136 S.Ct.
2243 (2016). In Johnson, the Supreme Court held that
the so-called residual clause of the Armed Career Criminal
Act (“ACCA”) was unconstitutionally vague, while
in Mathis, the Supreme Court discussed the