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Williams v. FCI Otisville

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

October 29, 2019

JOHN WILLIAM WILLIAMS, Petitioner
v.
FCI OTISVILLE, Respondent

          REPORT & RECOMMENDATION

          WILLIAM I. ARBUCKLE U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         John William Williams (“Petitioner”), a former federal prisoner now in Pennsylvania-state custody, proceeding pro se, filed a habeas corpus petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, challenging his federal court convictions. Petitioner argues that because of his mental infirmity, his guilty plea was not voluntary. For the reasons explained below, I recommend that this Petition (Doc. 1) be TRANSFERRED to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas for consideration as a motion to vacate sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255.

         II. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On September 22, 2011, Petitioner pled guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. Id. at p. 1. On February 1, 2012, Petitioner was sentenced to forty-three (43) months imprisonment, followed by three (3) years of supervised release. Id. Petitioner did not appeal his judgment of conviction or sentence. (Doc. 8, p. 2).

         Petitioner was released from BOP custody on November 2, 2016. (Doc. 8-2, p. 17). On November 23, 2018, Petitioner filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (Doc. 1). On September 12, 2019, Respondent filed a Response (Doc. 8). On September 24, 2019, Petitioner filed a Traverse (Doc. 9).

         In his Petition, Petitioner argues that because he was intellectually disabled and based on his attorney's conduct, his guilty plea was not voluntary. Id. at pp. 4-7. Specifically, Petitioner's Ground One, Ground Two, and Ground Three in his habeas petition state:

42 U.S.C. §§ 10801, et seq., §§ 12101, et seq., and §§ 12131, et seq.; and the denial of the assistance of counsel, due process of law, and equal protection of the law under the Sixth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution.

Id.

         Petitioner alleges different facts for each of the grounds in his Petition. As facts to support Ground One, Petitioner provides:

At the time of the alleged offense, [Petitioner] was mentally ill and disabled, and mentally incompetent/insane, as indicated by the fact that the offense originated out of a suicide attempt (covered by news media in Beaumont, TX), and followed by a second suicide attempt a week later in jail. Throughout [Petitioner's] pretrial detention, and at time of [Petitioner's] guilty plea, [Petitioner] continued to be mentally ill and disabled, and mentally incompetent/insane, and was not competent to have entered a guilty plea in this matter. [Petitioner's] plea was neither voluntary, nor knowing and intelligent within the meaning of the law.

Id. at p. 4.

         In support of Ground Two, Petitioner provides the following facts:

Counsel failed to inform the trial court of [Petitioner's] mental illness and disability, and likelihood of incompetency/insanity, and counsel did not request a psychiatric evaluation or competency hearing, prior to advising ...

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