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United States v. Robert Allen Smith

May 31, 2012

UNITED STATES
v.
ROBERT ALLEN SMITH



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Donetta W. Ambrose Senior Judge, U.S. District Court

OPINION AND ORDER

SYNOPSIS

In this action, Defendant pleaded guilty to one count of violating 21 U.S.C. ' 846, and was sentenced on December 16, 2012. Presently before the Court is Defendant's Motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ' 2255, in which he asserts that he did not receive a three-point reduction for acceptance of responsibility, as promised by his plea agreement, but instead received only a two-point reduction. He also argues that counsel was ineffective for failing to file an appeal. The Government asserts that the Court did in fact apply the three-point reduction, and also asserts that Defendant, when pleading guilty, waived his right to collateral attack. Subsequent to filing his Motion, Defendant filed an Affidavit and a "Motion for Strict Adherence to the Rule(s) of Criminal Procedures & Section 2255," which, inter alia, denies that he waived his collateral attack rights.

For the following reasons, Defendant's Motions will be denied.

OPINION

I. APPLICABLE STANDARDS

Relief is available under Section 2255 only under exceptional circumstances, when the claimed errors of law are "a fundamental defect which inherently results in a complete miscarriage of justice," or "an omission inconsistent with the rudimentary demands of fair procedure." Hill v. United States, 368 U.S. 424, 428, 82 S. Ct. 468, 7 L. Ed. 2d 417 (1962). A district court need not hold an evidentiary hearing on a Section 2255 motion if the motion, files, and records show conclusively that the defendant is not entitled to relief. United States v. Ritter, No. 02-2604, 93 Fed. Appx. 402, 2004 U.S. App. LEXIS 5692, at *4 (3d Cir. Mar. 26, 2004). Under these standards, a hearing is unnecessary in this case, and I will dispose of the Motion on the record.

Moreover, a pro se pleading is held to less stringent standards than pleadings drafted by attorneys. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106, 97 S. Ct. 285, 50 L. Ed. 2d 251 (1976); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520, 92 S. Ct. 594, 30 L. Ed. 2d 652 (1972). Thus, a pro se habeas petition should be construed liberally. See Royce v. Hahn, 151 F.3d 116, 118 (3d Cir. 1998). I have considered Defendant's Motions according to these standards.

II. DEFENDANT'S MOTION

The Government contends Defendant has waived the right to file his Section 2255 Motion. Defendant and his counsel both signed a plea letter that contained the following language:

Robert Allen Smith, Jr. waives the right to take a direct appeal from his conviction or sentence..., subject to the following exceptions:

(a) If the United States appeals from the sentence, Robert Allen Smith, Jr. may take a direct appeal from the sentence.

(b) If (1) the sentence exceeds the applicable statutory limits set forth in the United States Code, or (2) the sentence unreasonably exceeds the guideline range determined by the Court under the Sentencing Guidelines, Robert Allen Smith, Jr. may take a direct appeal from the sentence.

Robert Allen Smith, Jr. further waives the right to file a motion to vacate sentence, under 28 U.S.C. ยง 2255, attacking his conviction or sentence, and the right to file any other ...


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