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Rice v. United States

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

May 10, 2018

BYRON RICE, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Cathy Bissoon United States District Judge

         I. MEMORANDUM

         Before the Court is Petitioner Byron Rice's “Second-In-Time § 2255” Motion to vacate, set aside or correct his sentence. Doc. 112. For the reasons that follow, the Court will dismiss Petitioner's Motion as a second or successive petition.

         BACKGROUND

         On July 7, 2009, a federal grand jury returned an Indictment charging Petitioner with one count of conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute heroin in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846. Doc. 1. On October 15, 2010, Petitioner pleaded guilty pursuant to a plea agreement. Doc. 72. On February 25, 2011, the Court sentenced Petitioner to 168 months in prison. Doc. 90. Petitioner did not file a direct appeal.

         On February 29, 2012, Petitioner filed his first motion to vacate, set aside or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Doc. 97. The Court denied the motion, and Petitioner appealed and requested a certificate of appealability from the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Doc. 106. On February 27, 2013, the Circuit Court denied Petitioner's request for a certificate of appealability. Doc. 109.

         On July 10, 2017, Petitioner filed the instant 2255-Motion. Doc. 112. The government has responded, Doc. 114, and the Motion is ripe for adjudication.

         ANALYSIS

         A. Applicable Legal Standards

         “A motion to vacate sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 is the means to collaterally challenge a federal conviction or sentence.” Massey v. U.S., 581 F.3d 172, 174 (3d Cir. 2009). Relief is available under § 2255 only under exceptional circumstances, where the claimed error(s) reflect a “a fundamental defect . . . inherently result[ing] in a complete miscarriage of justice, ” or “an omission inconsistent with the rudimentary demands of fair procedure.” Hill v. U.S., 368 U.S. 424, 428 (1962). The Court need not hold an evidentiary hearing if the record conclusively shows that the petitioner is not entitled to relief. U.S. v. Ritter, 93 F. App'x. 402 (3d Cir. 2004). Under this standard, a hearing is unnecessary in this case.

         B. Petitioner's § 2255 Motion is second or successive.

         In 1996, Congress enacted the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, Pub. L. No. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214 (Apr. 24, 1996), which dictates that a petitioner who already has filed a § 2255 petition may only file a “second or successive motion” if the court of appeals has certified that the motion contains either: (1) “newly discovered evidence that, if proven and viewed in light of the evidence as a whole, would be sufficient to establish by clear and convincing evidence that no reasonable factfinder would have found the movant guilty of the offense”; or (2) “a new rule of constitutional law, made retroactive to cases on collateral review by the Supreme Court, that was previously unavailable.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(h).

         “A petitioner's failure to seek . . . authorization from the appropriate court before filing a second or successive habeas petition acts as a jurisdictional bar.” Blystone v. Horn, 664 F.3d 397, 412 (3d Cir. 2011) (citation to quoted source omitted). The Court determines whether a petition is second or successive by looking at the judgment-challenged. U.S. v. Winkelman, 746 F.3d 134, 135 (3d Cir. 2014) (citations and internal quotations omitted). In Winkelman, where the defendants challenged the same judgment of conviction previously contested, the Circuit Court had “little difficulty finding [the] late[r] filings to be successive.” Id.

         Petitioner's current Motion challenges the same judgment of conviction and sentence as his prior petition. The Motion is second or successive, and the only way it may be considered (absent the Circuit Court's prior authorization) is if it meets the “newly discovered evidence” or “new rule of constitutional law” standards. ...


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