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Melvin Stinson v. United States of America

June 29, 2012

MELVIN STINSON,
PETITIONER,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Eduardo C. Robreno, J.

MEMORANDUM

Melvin Stinson ("Petitioner") is a federal prisoner incarcerated at Federal Correctional Institution Schuylkill in Minersville, Pennsylvania. Petitioner filed a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 ("§ 2255 Motion"). Petitioner claims he received constitutionally ineffective assistance of counsel, that he was denied due process based on pre-indictment delay, that his guilty plea is invalid, and that the felon-in-possession statute is unconstitutional. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will deny and dismiss with prejudice the § 2255 Motion.

I.BACKGROUND*fn1

On December 18, 2006, Philadelphia police officers arrested Petitioner outside of a Philadelphia bar pursuant to an arrest warrant issued for failing to appear in court. Change-of-Plea Hr'g Tr. 12:15-24. Operating on a tip that Petitioner was at the bar, one officer entered and identified Petitioner, who fit the description of the three-hundred-pound, six-foot tall, African-American male, who was wanted on the warrant. Id. at 12:25-13:3. The officer noticed Petitioner sitting on a stool at the bar. Id. at 13:4-8. On the stool sat a jacket. Id.

When the officer entered, Petitioner looked his way, stood up from the stool, and walked over to some pay phones. Id. at 13:9-11. Petitioner picked up the receiver but neither dialed a number nor inserted a coin to place a call. Id. at 13:12-14. Petitioner hung up the phone and walked to the pool tables. Id. at 13:15-18. But he did not speak to anyone or play pool. Id.

Finally, Petitioner exited the bar and left the jacket on the stool. Id. at 13:19-20. He walked outside in a white tee-shirt, even though it was a cold December night. Id. at 13:20-22. Officers arrested Petitioner outside and discovered in the jacket on the bar stool a loaded .357 magnum firearm and twenty-three vials of crack cocaine. Id. at 13:23-14:3. Furthermore, at the time of the offense, Petitioner was a convicted felon and the firearm traveled in interstate commerce. Id. at 13:9-11.

II.PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On March 27, 2007, a federal grand jury charged Petitioner with possession with intent to distribute in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), using and carrying a firearm during a drug-trafficking crime in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1), and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). On June 14, 2007, Petitioner pled guilty after the Court conducted a colloquy with Petitioner pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(b). The Court accepted Petitioner's guilty plea and ordered a presentence investigation report.

At Petitioner's sentencing hearing, based on information provided in the presentence investigation report, the Court determined that Petitioner was a career offender under the 2006 U.S. Sentencing Guidelines based on a 1998 conviction for distribution of a controlled substance and a 1994 conviction for simple assault. Accordingly, the Court sentenced Petitioner to 262 months of imprisonment.

On appeal, and after a rehearing en banc, the Third Circuit affirmed the Court's holding that Petitioner is a career offender based on the conviction for distribution of a controlled substance and a conviction for resisting arrest, which also appeared in the presentence investigation report. United States v. Stinson, 592 F.3d 460, 466-67 (3d Cir. 2010) (en banc). On October 4, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court denied Petitioner's petition for writ of certiorari. Stinson v. United States, 131 S. Ct. 114, 114 (2010) (mem.).

On September 30, 2011, Petitioner filed the instant § 2255 Motion and accompanying memorandum in support. The Government responded. And Petitioner replied. The matter is now ripe for disposition.

III.DISCUSSION

A federal prisoner challenging his sentence based on a violation of the U.S. Constitution or laws of the United States may move the court that imposed the sentence to vacate, set aside, or correct the sentence. See 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a) (Supp. IV 2011). The prisoner may attack his sentence on any of the following grounds: (1) the judgment was rendered without jurisdiction; (2) the sentence imposed was not authorized by law or otherwise open to collateral attack; or (3) there has been such a denial or infringement of the constitutional rights of the prisoner as to render the judgment vulnerable to collateral attack. See id. § 2255(b). A prisoner's pro se motion is construed liberally. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam); Huertas v. Galaxy Asset Mgmt., 641 F.3d 28, 32 (3d Cir. 2011).

In his § 2255 Motion and accompanying memorandum in support, Petitioner claims that his counsel rendered constitutionally ineffective assistance, that his guilty plea is void, and that the felon-in-possession statute is unconstitutional. Because the § 2255 Motion and the records of this case conclusively show Petitioner is not entitled to relief, the Court will deny the ...


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