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Ramsey v. United States

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

March 4, 2019




         This matter is before the Court on the motion of Petitioner William Ramsey for relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, as well as Ramsey's motion for a status report, Dkt. 67. This ruling provides an update of the status of these proceedings. Ramsey seeks relief from a criminal conviction arguing that he did not receive effective assistance of counsel as required by the Sixth Amendment. For the reasons set forth below, Ramsey's § 2255 motion 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 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). “Relief under this statute is available only in extraordinary situations, such as an error of constitutional or jurisdictional magnitude or where a fundamental defect has occurred which results in a complete miscarriage of justice.” Blake v. United States, 723 F.3d 870, 878-79 (7th Cir. 2013) (citing Prewitt v. United States, 83 F.3d 812, 816 (7th Cir. 1996); Barnickel v. United States, 113 F.3d 704, 705 (7th Cir. 1997)).

         II. Factual Background

         On September 17, 2014, Ramsey was charged in a seven-count Indictment in United States v. Ramsey, 1:14-cr-00187-TWP-MJD-1 (“Crim. Dkt.”) Dkt. 10. Counts 1 through 6 charged Ramsey with knowingly receiving child pornography on certain dates between July 15, 2013, and May 16, 2014, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(2). Id. Count 7 charged him with knowingly possessing child pornography on June 28, 2014, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(4)(B). Id. Indiana Federal Community Defender counsel Gwendolyn Beitz was appointed to represent Ramsey and she entered her appearance on September 19, 2014, Crim. Dkt. 18. On June 18, 2015, Ramsey filed a Petition to Enter a Plea of Guilty. Crim. Dkt. 29. In the Petition, Ramsey represented to the Court that he received a copy of the Indictment and understood the charges brought against him. Id. He stated that he understood his rights guaranteed to him by the Constitution. Id. Ramsey stated that he offered his plea of guilty freely and voluntary and of his own accord. Id.

         On August 7, 2015, a Plea Agreement was filed pursuant to Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1)(C). Crim. Dkt. 32. The Agreement stated that Ramsey would plead guilty to Count 7, which charged him with knowingly possessing child pornography on or about June 28, 2014. Id. The parties agreed that the Court should sentence Ramsey to a term of imprisonment of 120 months. Id. The government agreed that if Ramsey fully complied with all the terms of this plea agreement, and if the Court accepted the Plea Agreement, then it would move to dismiss Counts 1 through 6 of the Indictment. Id.

         In exchange for the concessions made by the United States, Ramsey agreed that in the event the Court accepted the Plea Agreement and imposed a sentence of 120 months, Ramsey would waive his right to appeal his conviction and sentence and any collateral attack against his conviction and sentence. Id. The waiver did not encompass claims that Ramsey received ineffective assistance of counsel.

         On October 1, 2015, the Court held a change of plea and sentencing hearing. Crim. Dkt. 38. Before the hearing, the parties filed a stipulated factual basis signed by all the parties, including Ramsey. Crim. Dkt. 36. The stipulated factual basis provided that Ramsey possessed a laptop containing several images of child pornography. Id. During the plea hearing, the Court advised Ramsey of his rights and the possible penalties and accepted the parties' stipulated factual basis as an adequate basis for the plea. Crim. Dkt. 38. Ramsey attested that he was pleading guilty of his own free will and that no one had threatened or coerced him into pleading guilty. Crim. Dkt. 63, pg. 7-8. Ramsey pleaded guilty to Count 7 of the Indictment and affirmed the truth of the facts stated in the factual basis. Crim. Dkt. 63, pg. 24. The Court accepted Ramsey's guilty plea and adjudged him guilty of Count 7. Crim. Dkt. 38.

         Accepting the terms of the plea agreement, the Court sentenced Ramsey to 120 months of imprisonment to be followed by a lifetime of supervised release. Crim. Dkt. 41. Ramsey was also assessed the mandatory assessment of $100 and a fine in the amount of $5, 000.00. Id. Thereafter, in compliance with the Plea Agreement, the United States filed a motion to dismiss Counts 1 through 6. Crim. Dkt. 39. The Court granted the motion and dismissed Counts 1 through 6. Crim. Dkt. 40. Ramsey filed this motion for relief pursuant to § 2255 on August 5, 2016. The Court later appointed counsel to represent Ramsey and counsel filed a brief. The United States has responded.

         III. Discussion

         Ramsey argues in his motion for relief that his counsel was ineffective. He states that he was incarcerated on a prior state court conviction until November 7, 2013, and he therefore could not have owned a laptop containing child pornography on July 15, 2013, as charged in Counts 1-3 of the Indictment. He states that his counsel should have moved to dismiss Counts 1-3 of the Indictment, because the dates listed in the Indictment are inaccurate. Because counsel did not move to dismiss these Counts, he felt compelled to plead guilty. He also asserts that his attorney failed to communicate with him regarding important dates and failed to move to suppress evidence of a previous case. In his supplement in support of his motion for relief, Ramsey reiterates these arguments. The United States has responded to the motion and the supplement and argues that he waived his right to challenge his conviction and sentence and that his counsel was not ineffective.

         A. Waiver

         The United States argues that Ramsey waived his § 2255 claims when he consented to the Plea Agreement. “A defendant may validly waive both his right to a direct appeal and his right to collateral review under § 2255 as part of his 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 ...

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