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United States v. Golson

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

April 12, 2017

COREY GOLSON, SR., Defendant



         I. Introduction

         Presently before the court is defendant Corey Golson, Sr.'s motion (Doc. 115) pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) for relief from this court's denial of his motion (Doc. 107) to vacate, set aside, or correct sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Because Defendant has failed to demonstrate that relief should be granted under Rule 60(b), the motion will be denied.

         II. Background

         On September 7, 2012, Defendant entered a conditional guilty plea to a three-count indictment, reserving the right to appeal a previous denial of his suppression motion. (Doc. 82). On January 24, 2013, this court sentenced Defendant to a term of 161 months' imprisonment and three years of supervised release. (Doc. 88). Shortly thereafter, he filed a notice of appeal. (Docs. 89, 96). On February 11, 2014, the Third Circuit affirmed this court's denial of Defendant's suppression motion. (Docs. 105, 106). Defendant's petition for a writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of the United States was denied on June 23, 2014. United States v. Golson, 743 F.3d 44 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 134 S.Ct. 2857 (2014) (mem.).

         On June 16, 2015, Defendant timely filed a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. (Doc. 107). Defendant alleges that he filed his 2255 motion in the Eastern District because, after contacting the Clerk of Court for the Middle District, he was erroneously sent Eastern District forms and instructions. (Doc. 115 at 3; see also Doc. 107). On June 26, 2015, the Eastern District court properly transferred the 2255 motion to this court. (Doc. 108).

         On June 30, 2015, this court entered the standard administrative order providing Defendant with “notice of limitations on filing of future motions under 28 U.S.C. § 2255” (“Miller notice”). (Doc. 109). This order explained that an initial 2255 motion should contain all grounds for relief, and requested that Defendant inform the court whether he desired to withdraw the motion without prejudice or have the motion ruled upon as filed. (See Doc. 109); see also United States v. Miller, 197 F.3d 644, 652 (3d Cir. 1999). Defendant was given thirty days to respond to the administrative order. (Doc. 109 at 3). On September 28, 2015, after waiting approximately three months and having received no response from Defendant, this court decided Defendant's 2255 motion as originally filed. (Doc. 110 at 2).

         The 2255 motion raised four claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. (Doc. 107 at 4-9). This court addressed the merits of each claim, and denied relief. (Doc. 110 at 4-11; Doc. 111). A certificate of appealability was also denied. (Doc. 110 at 11; Doc. 111). Defendant timely sought a certificate of appealability from the Third Circuit. (Doc. 112). On July 15, 2016, the Third Circuit denied Defendant's request for a certificate of appealability. (Doc. 114).

         Nearly eight months later, Defendant filed the instant Rule 60(b) motion, seeking relief from the denial of his 2255 motion. (Doc. 115). He alleges that he was misinformed by the clerk of court regarding where to file his 2255 motion, was sent Eastern District forms and instructions rather than Middle District documents, did not receive a copy of the transfer order issued by the Eastern District court, did not receive a copy of the June 30, 2015 Miller notice issued by this court, and was therefore unable to file his “already prepared” legal brief and affidavit to support his 2255 motion. (Id. at 2-8).

         According to Defendant, these procedural errors caused a “defect in the integrity” of his 2255 motion proceedings, (id. at 5, 8), thereby permitting consideration of the instant Rule 60(b) motion. He contends that this court could not “begin to know the Argument on the [2255] challenges, because the § 2255 Argument was missing from the Application.” (Id. at 7). He also urges the court not to construe the instant motion as a second or successive 2255 motion because granting the Rule 60(b) motion “merely reinstates the previously denied and dismissed Habeas Application” and reopens the action “for further proceedings.” (Id. at 6). He asserts that although his Rule 60(b) motion “is undoubtedly a step on the road to the ultimate objective of invalidating the Judgment of conviction and sentence[, t]he Motion itself does not seek that relief.” (Id.)

         Thus, according to Defendant, this court has jurisdiction to consider his Rule 60(b) motion. He requests that this court grant relief and reopen the original 2255 motion proceedings to allow him to file legal arguments and other supporting documentation, upon which the court should make a fresh determination regarding his initial habeas claims.[1]

III. Discussion

         Initially, the court must determine whether Defendant's instant Rule 60(b) motion is the type permitted under the federal habeas constraints of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), or whether it must be construed as a second or successive 2255 motion. This determination is critical because if Defendant's Rule 60(b) motion is simply a disguised second or successive 2255 motion, this court does not have jurisdiction to entertain it. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 2255(h), 2244(b)(3)(A); Blystone v. Horn, 664 F.3d 397, 412 (3d Cir. 2011) (citation omitted).

         Here, the court finds that Defendant's Rule 60(b) motion is proper, and is not a second or successive 2255 motion requiring certification from the Third Circuit. Nevertheless, the court also finds that Defendant's ...

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