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Sanders v. United States

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division

June 28, 2019

LAMAR SANDERS, Petitioner,


          Joseph S. Van Bokkelen United States District Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on Lamar Sanders's motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to have his sentence set aside (DE 324).[1] He filed his petition pro se, but later counsel appeared for him and filed a motion for leave to file a supplemental § 2255 motion (DE 345).

         The questions before the Court are whether Sanders should be allowed to file a supplemental § 2255 motion, whether an evidentiary hearing is required, and, if not, whether Sanders is entitled to any relief under § 2255.

         A. Background

         Among other things, Sanders claims he was denied effective assistance of counsel because his attorney didn't raise a Speedy Trial Act challenge. Therefore the Court will recount the procedural history of this case in some detail.

         On March 5, 2008, Sanders, along with his co-defendant, Ralphael Scott, was indicted on a charge of kidnapping R.E., a child under the age of eighteen, and Hobbs Act extortion. Trial was set for May 12, 2008, with pretrial motions due on April 18. On April 15, Sanders moved for additional time to file pretrial motions and for a continuance of the trial. The motions were granted and the trial was reset for July 21, 2008. Sanders filed a motion to suppress on May 27. When the motion was fully briefed, the Court vacated the trial date and the motion was set for a hearing to be held on August 7, 2008.

         The day before the hearing on the motion to suppress was to begin, Sanders moved to continue it and it was reset for October 7, 2008. On the scheduled date, Sanders asked for time to hire new counsel. The motion hearing was reset to November 13, 2008, but Sanders's new counsel moved for a continuance and the hearing was reset to January 12, 2009. The hearing began on that date, resumed on March 10, 2009, and concluded on May 4, 2009. A schedule for the filing of supplemental briefs was set and extended once at Sanders's request and once at the Government's, such that Defendants' reply briefs were due August 20.

         On July 1, 2009, the Court set the case for trial on September 21, 2009. Thereafter, Sanders filed three motions for continuances of the trial, ultimately resulting in a trial setting of June 7, 2010. On the morning of June 7, Sanders's attorney withdrew his appearance. The Court vacated the trial date, which was reset to October 25, 2010. Once again Sanders moved to continue the trial and it was reset to January 18, 2011, when the trial began.

         The jury found Sanders guilty on both counts of the indictment and he was sentenced to 25 years on the kidnapping count-the statutory minimum for child kidnapping-and 20 years on the extortion count, with the two sentences to be served concurrently. He appealed but the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed both his conviction and sentence.

         In December 2014, after his petition for a writ of certiorari was denied, Sanders filed a timely pro se motion under § 2255. In May 2015, an attorney entered her appearance for Sanders and filed a motion for an extension of time to file an amended § 2255 motion. The Court set a deadline of September 18, 2015, which was not met. The Court set a new deadline of February 29, 2016, but Sanders filed a motion for an extension and was given until March 14, 2016, to file an amended motion. When that date passed with neither an amended motion nor a request for an extension having been filed, the Court ordered the Government to respond to Sanders's pro se motion, which it did on August 1, 2016. Sanders did not reply, but on August 18, 2018, he moved for leave to file a supplemental § 2255 motion, asserting entirely new grounds for relief.

         B. Motion for Leave to File Amended Motion [2]

         The Government maintains that Sanders should not be permitted to supplement his § 2255 motion so long after his original motion was filed and that his new claim lacks merit. The Court agrees with the Government's first contention and so does not reach its second.

         Under Rule 12 of the Rules Governing Section 2255 Proceedings, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure are generally applicable to § 2255 motions. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15 governs amended and supplemental pleadings. A § 2255 motion is the functional equivalent of a complaint, which is a pleading. Under Rule 15, leave of court is required because Sanders's motion was filed more than 21 days after the Government's response.

         A litigant should not be granted leave to amend if to do so would be futile. Arreolat v. Godnez, 546 F.3d 788, 796 (7th Cir. 2008). That is the case here, because the claim Sanders seeks to assert in an amended filing is a completely new claim that is untimely under ยง 2255(f). Moreover, such an amendment could not relate back to the date of his original motion because the proposed claim doesn't arise ...

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