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United States v. Mote

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

December 29, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
KRISHNA MOTE, Defendant

MEMORANDUM

JAMES M. MUNLEY, District Judge.

Before the court for disposition is Defendant Krishna Mote's (hereinafter "defendant") motion[1] under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to vacate, set aside, or correct sentence. (Doc. 140). The matter has been fully briefed and is ripe for disposition. After careful consideration, the court finds that defendant is not entitled to relief and the motion will be denied.

Background

A federal grand jury indicted Defendant Mote on April 4, 2007 on charges of conspiracy to distribute more than 50 grams of cocaine base and more than 500 grams of cocaine and distribution of cocaine base. (No. 7-144, Doc. 1). Defendant Mote pled not guilty on March 15, 2010. (No. 7-144, Doc. 592). On May 26, 2011, the court dismissed that indictment without prejudice under the Speedy Trial Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3161, et seq. (No. 7-144, Doc. 675).

Defendant Mote was then indicted on June 7, 2011, on charges of conspiracy to distribute in excess of 280 grams of cocaine base and more than 500 grams of cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846, and distribution and possession with intent to distribute cocaine base as an aider and abettor, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 18 U.S.C. § 2. (Doc. 1).

The U.S. Attorney filed an information of prior convictions of controlled substance offenses on September 26, 2012, detailing defendant's felony convictions for distribution in Massachusetts in 1989, 1990, and 1994. (Doc. 57). That filing also provided notice that defendant's prior felony drug convictions would enhance defendant's sentence, if convicted, to mandatory minimums of life imprisonment for the conspiracy charge and thirty (30) years for the distribution charge, and potential fines of up to $10, 000, 000. (Id.)

The court held a three-day trial beginning on December 4, 2012. Defendant represented himself at trial.[2] A jury convicted him of both counts on December 6, 2012. (Doc. 103). Defendant Mote then filed a pro se notice of appeal on December 9, 2012. (Doc. 114). On May 15, 2013, the court sentenced the defendant to life imprisonment on the conspiracy charge and thirty (30) years on the distribution charge, to run concurrently. (Doc. 136).

Defendant filed a motion seeking a new trial, which the court denied on May 7, 2013. (Doc. 132). On January 31, 2014, the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence. United States v. Krishna Mote, 553 F.Appx. 117 (3d Cir. 2014). Attorney Reish represented defendant both on appeal (No. 13-1087, Doc. XXXXXXXXXXXX, Brief of Appellant) and at sentencing (Doc. 135). The Supreme Court denied defendant's petition for writ of certiorari on June 2, 2014. Krishna Mote v. United States, 134 S.Ct. 2716 (2014).

Defendant filed the current motion on September 3, 2014. (Doc. 140). The parties then briefed the issues, bringing the case to its current procedural posture.

Jurisdiction

As defendant brings his motion under section 2255, we have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 ("The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of defendant's trial. (Doc. 95). all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States."). We also have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 ("Writs of habeas corpus may be granted by... the district courts[.]").

Standard of Review

A federal prisoner in custody under the sentence of a federal court may, within one year from when the judgment becomes final, [3] move the sentencing court to "vacate, set aside, or correct" a sentence "imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). A section 2255 motion may attack a federal prisoner's sentence on any of the following grounds: "[1] that the judgment was rendered without jurisdiction, or [2] that the sentence imposed was not authorized by law or otherwise open to collateral attack, or [3] that there has been such a denial or infringement of the Constitutional rights of the prisoner as to render the judgment vulnerable to collateral attack...." 28 U.S.C. § 2255(b).

Section 2255, however, does not afford a remedy for all errors that may have been made at trial or sentencing. United States v. Essig, 10 F.3d 968, 977 n.25 (3d Cir. 1993). Rather, section 2255 permits relief for an error of law or fact constituting a "fundamental defect which inherently results in a complete miscarriage of justice." United States v. Eakman, 378 F.3d 294, 298 (3d Cir. 2004) (citing United States v. Addonizio, 442 U.S. 178, 185 (1979)). If the court determines that the sentence was not authorized by law, was unconstitutional, or otherwise open to collateral attack, the court must either vacate the judgment, resentence the prisoner, or grant the prisoner a new trial as appropriate. See 28 U.S.C. § 2255(b). ...


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