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Richard Anthony Pryce v. Warden William A. Scism

January 6, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. John E. Jones III



Petitioner Richard Anthony Pryce ("Petitioner" or "Pryce"), an inmate presently confined at the Low Security Correctional Institution Allenwood ("LSCI Allenwood") in White Deer, Pennsylvania, commenced the above action pro se by filing a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus ("Petition") under the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 2241. (Doc. 1.) He also filed a supporting Memorandum of Law. (Doc. 2.)

By Order dated August 23, 2010, we directed service of the Petition on Respondent, and directed Respondent to file an answer to the Petition within twenty-one (21) days. (Doc. 9.) On September 10, 2010, Respondent filed a Response (Doc.

11) and supporting authority (Doc. 11-2). On September 23, 2010, Petitioner filed a reply brief. (Doc. 13.) He simultaneously filed a Motion requesting an extension of time to file a reply brief to enable him to conduct discovery. (Doc. 12.) On September 27, 2010, Petitioner filed a Motion for an Evidentiary Hearing (Doc. 14), which Respondent has opposed (see Doc. 15).

The Petition now is ripe for disposition, and for the reasons set forth below, will be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. Moreover, in light of our determination that we lack jurisdiction over the issues presented in the instant Petition, the two (2) pending Motions by Petitioner requesting the opportunity to conduct discovery and for an evidentiary hearing will be denied as moot.


In the Response to the Petition, Respondent provides the following background as to Pryce's entry into a Plea Agreement and subsequent sentencing in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York:

On June 29, 2005, pursuant to a written Plea Agreement, Pryce pleaded guilty to felon in possession of a firearm. See Doc. 9, S.D.N.Y. Docket No. 7:05-cr-002240CM, pp. 2,4.*fn1 The Plea Agreement explained in explicit detail that Pryce was an armed career criminal subject to the enhanced sentencing provisions of 18 U.S.C. § 924(3). Id. The agreement also set forth Pryce's lengthy history of prior convictions; it set forth which of those numerous prior convictions were prior convictions for violent felony and/or serious drug offenses such that they qualified as prior convictions within the meaning of 18 U.S.C. § 924(e); and set forth that the defendant was consequently facing a maximum statutory minimum sentence of 15 years imprisonment and a statutory maximum of life imprisonment. Id. Further, the Plea Agreement stated that Pryce's sentencing guidelines range was 15 years to 188 months and that Pryce was, by entering into the agreement, waiving his right to appeal or litigate under 18 U.S.C.§2255 "any sentence within or below [that range]." Id.

Further, during the guilty plea hearing, the Government stated that it was "stipulated between the Government and the defense [that the defendant] falls within the parameters of 924(e), which is to say, he is an armed career criminal; which is to say he has three or more prior convictions for felonies, either serious drug offenses or violent felonies. Because of that, his statutory sentencing range is 15 years to life." Id. p. 3. Pryce was asked whether he understood that, and he replied that he did. Id. Pryce was further informed that the Plea Agreement set forth a stipulated Sentencing Guidelines range of 15 years to 188 months, and Pryce acknowledged that he understood that. Id. Pryce also acknowledged that by the terms of the Plea Agreement he was giving up any right "to appeal or otherwise attack the sentence of the Court" provided that the sentence was not higher than 188 months. Id. Finally, during the guilty plea hearing, Pryce acknowledged that he had previously been convicted in the State of Massachusetts of each of five discrete serious drug or violent felony offenses. Id. On October 4, 2005, Pryce was sentenced to a term of 180 months imprisonment and five years of supervised release. Doc. 7, S.D. N.Y. Docket No. 7:05-cr-00224-CM.

On October 23, 2006, Pryce filed a Motion to Vacate under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 alleging a litany of conclusory allegations including actual innocence, ineffective assistance of counsel, due process violations, illegal seizure, jurisdiction violations, abuse of discretion, abuse of process, malicious prosecution, abandonment by counsel, and civil rights and equal protection violations for use of a sentence enhancement. Doc. 1, S.D. N.Y. Docket No. 7:06-cv-10212-CM.

On November 6, 2006, Pryce sough[t] to amend his petition to remove all other claims except ineffective assistance of counsel during the plea stage of the proceeding. Doc. 8, S.D. N.Y. Docket No. 7:05-cr-00224-CM.

The motion was also accompanied by an affidavit wherein Pryce avers, among other things, that he told his defense counsel that he did not want to plead guilty and face a life sentence, that his counsel advised him that he would secure a stipulation that "the maximum penalty imposed would be the 15 year minimum" and that his counsel never advised him that the Government "had to file a notice of its intent to enhance my maximum penalty." Id. Pryce further averred that had he "known that the Government had to file an information of its intent to enhance [his] maximum penalty, [he] would not have waived is right to appeal the sentence or collaterally attack the sentence, as the sentence is now in error of law because no [prior felony] information was filed according to the Docket Sheet." Id.

The District Court denied Pryce's 2255 Motion concluding that although Pryce's plea agreement was clear that he was relinquishing his right to collateral attack of his sentence, assuming arguendo that he had not, Pryce had still failed to make a substantial showing of a denial of a constitutional right. Doc. 12, S.D. N.Y. Docket No. 7:05-cr-00224-CM, p. 11; see also Doc. 6, S.D. N.Y. Docket No. 7:06-cv-10212-CM. The District Court further ruled that a certificate of appealability would not issue. (Id.) Notwithstanding the District Court's Order, Pryce filed an ...

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