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Garrett v. United States

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

August 13, 2019

AARON GARRETT, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

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

          SARAH EVANS BARKER, JUDGE

         For the reasons explained in this Entry, the motion of Petitioner Aaron Garrett 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

          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. Background

         On August 12, 2015, Garrett was charged in a nine-count multi-defendant Indictment. Garrett was charged with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, and distribute more than 100 grams of heroin, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 846 (Count 1); one count of possession with intent to distribute heroin, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) (Count 2); two counts of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A) (Counts 3 and 5); and one count of possession with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) (Count 4).

         On September 22, 2016, Garrett filed a petition to enter a plea of guilty and plea agreement pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1)(C). United States v. Garrett, 1:15-cr-153-SEB-TAB-2, (hereinafter “Crim. Dkt.”), Crim. Dkt. 153. The parties agreed that Garrett would plead guilty to Counts 1 and 3 of the Indictment and the government would move to dismiss the remaining counts. Id. at ¶ 1. The parties agreed to a term of imprisonment between 180 and 204 months. Id. at ¶ 7.

         In exchange for the concessions made by the government, Garrett waived his right to appeal the conviction and sentence imposed on any ground, providing the Court imposed a sentence between 180 and 204 months' imprisonment. Id. at ¶ 18. Garrett also waived his right to contest, or seek to modify, his conviction or sentence or the manner in which either was determined in any proceeding, including an action under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, except for claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. Id. at ¶ 19.

         The presentence report (“PSR”) calculated the sentencing guidelines range for Count 1 as 120 to 150 months. PSR, Crim. Dkt. 185 at ¶ 83. The mandatory sentence for Count 3 is 60 months consecutive. PSR at ¶ 84. Neither party filed any objections to the PSR.

         In the plea agreement, the parties stipulated to the facts of the case. Crim. Dkt. 153 at ¶¶ 12-14. These facts reflected that the crimes occurred in Indianapolis, Indiana. This Court accepted Garrett's guilty plea and sentenced him to 16 years' imprisonment (192 months). Garrett made no objections during the plea and sentencing hearing.

         The judgment and commitment order was filed on March 3, 2017. Abiding by the terms of the plea agreement, Garrett did not file an appeal.

         On March 8, 2018, Garrett filed a motion to vacate under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Dkt. 1-2. Garrett claims that this Court did not have jurisdiction to issue the Indictment in his case, he was denied the opportunity to challenge the competency of the Grand Jury and that his guidelines calculation included an improper enhancement for possessing a firearm on May 7, 2015. Id. The United States responded and no reply was filed.

         III. Discussion

         Garrett's primary argument is that the judgment in his criminal case, 1:15-cr-153-SEB-TAB-2 should be vacated because this Court lacked territorial jurisdiction over his criminal trial.[1] He argues that subject matter jurisdiction is insufficient, and that the Indictment must also allege that the geographical location at issue is within the exclusive jurisdiction of the federal government. For the reasons explained below, the Court had ...


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