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Susan Hunsicker v. United States of America

January 28, 2011

SUSAN HUNSICKER,
PETITIONER
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, RESPONDENT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Munley

MEMORANDUM

Before the court is petitioner's motion to vacate pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Having been briefed, the matter is ripe for consideration.

Background

A grand jury in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania indicted Petitioner Susan Hunsicker on three counts related to a conspiracy to distribute cocaine and cocaine base ("crack") on September 6, 2005. (See Doc. 1 in Case No. 05cr368). Petitioner made an initial appearance, pleading not guilty, on September 12, 2005. (See Docs. 20-21 in Id.). The court set conditions and released petitioner to pre-trial services on that day. (Id. at Doc. 22). The government filed a superseeding indictment naming petitioner on four drug-trafficking counts on September 20, 2005. (Id. at Doc. 55).

Another grand jury indicted petitioner on similar drug-related charges on April 4, 2007, while petitioner was released from jail under court supervision. (See Doc. 1 in Case. No. 07cr155). Petitioner made an initial appearance and pled not guilty in that case on April 12, 2007. (See Doc. 44). After her second arrest, Magistrate Judge Malachy E. Mannion ordered that plaintiff be detained pending trial. (See Doc. 54).

On August 28, 2007, petitioner filed a plea agreement on both of her cases with the court. (See Doc. 118 in 07cr144, Doc. 539 in 05cr368). The court accepted petitioner's motion to withdraw her not guilty pleas in both cases on September 4, 2007. (See Doc. 552 in 05cr368). After numerous delays, the court sentenced petitioner to a term of seventy months on each case, to be served concurrently, on August 6, 2009. (See Doc. 939 in Id.).

On May 25, 2010, petitioner filed the instant motion to vacate her sentences. (See Doc. 991 in Id.). The court ordered the government to respond to petitioner's motion. (Doc. 995 in Id.). The government did so, bringing the case to its present posture.

Jurisdiction

Petitioner brings this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. As such, the court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. ("The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.").

Legal Standard

Federal law provides that a federal prisoner who claims "the right to be released 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 . . . may move the court which imposed the sentence to vacate, set aside or correct the sentence." 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). The purpose of this statute is to allow "a prisoner in custody under sentence of a federal court to move that court to correct an erroneous sentence." United States v. Biberfeld, 957 F.3d 98,102 (3d Cir. 1992). In order to obtain relief under this statute, the Supreme Court has concluded that a plaintiff must demonstrate one of four grounds: "(1) 'that the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States;' (2) 'that the court was without jurisdiction to impose the sentence;' (3) 'that the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law;' or (4) that the sentence 'is otherwise subject to collateral attack.'" Hill v. United States, 368 U.S. 424, 427 (1962).

Discussion

Petitioner seeks to vacate her sentence on two grounds. The court will ...


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