Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Alford

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

January 14, 2020

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
ERIC ALFORD,

          MEMORANDUM ORDER

          Joy Flowers Conti, Senior United States District Judge.

         Pending before the court is a pro se motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f)(4) (ECF No. 1255) filed by Eric Alford (“Alford” or “defendant”). Also pending is the government's motion to dismiss Alford's motion, as an unauthorized successive § 2255 motion (ECF No. 1261).

         Factual and Procedural Background

         Alford pled guilty to a cocaine and crack cocaine conspiracy and attempt. On August 19, 2011, he was sentenced to 240 months in prison at each count, to run on a concurrent basis. He did not file a direct appeal.

         Alford filed his first § 2255 motion (ECF No. 1131), in June 2017. Alford recognized that the motion, filed almost six years after his sentence, would ordinarily be untimely but contended that his motion was timely because it was filed within one year of the Supreme Court's decision in Mathis v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 2243 (2016). (ECF No. 1131 at 2). On November 21, 2017, the court issued a memorandum opinion and order (ECF No. 1148) dismissing Alford's first § 2255 motion as untimely and denied a certificate of appealability.

         Alford filed the pending, second § 2255 motion on September 3, 2019. In the motion, he contends that his trial counsel committed a fundamental miscarriage of justice by failing to challenge a 2008 wiretap application as improper on its face. He contends that the motion is timely because it involves an (unspecified) new fact. Importantly, Alford did not provide a certification from the Third Circuit Court of Appeals which authorized him to file a second § 2255 motion.

         Legal Analysis

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, a federal prisoner may move the sentencing court to vacate, set aside, or correct the prisoner's sentence. That right is subject to stringent procedural and substantive requirements that an applicant must satisfy in order to file a second or successive § 2255 motion with a district court. Mendoza v. United States, No. CR 06-167, 2017 WL 1293575, at *2 (W.D. Pa. Apr. 6, 2017). In particular, as applicable to this case, 28 U.S.C. § 2255(h) requires a petitioner to obtain certification from the appropriate court of appeals before filing a second or successive § 2255 motion. Id. (emphasis in original). The court of appeals, not the district court, must certify that the second § 2255 motion meets the statutory requirements. The statute provides, in relevant part:

(h) A second or successive motion must be certified as provided in section 2244 by a panel of the appropriate court of appeals to contain-
(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).

         District courts lack subject-matter jurisdiction to consider an unauthorized second or successive § 2255 motion. Mendoza, 2017 WL 1293575, at *2 (citing In re Olabode, 325 F.3d 166, 169 (3d Cir. 2003); Lugo v. Zickefoose, 427 Fed.Appx. 89, 92 (3d Cir. 2011) (“We also agree with the District Court's ultimate conclusion that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the petition, treated as a second or successive § 2255 motion.”). In sum, if Alford does not show that he already obtained authorization from the Third Circuit Court of Appeals to file a second or successive § 2255 motion, this court is not empowered to decide the motion.

         In Mendoza, the court explained that once the court determines that a petitioner's filing is an unauthorized second or successive § 2255 motion, it may proceed by either (1) dismissing the motion for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, or (2) transferring the motion to the court of appeals pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1631 for consideration as an application to file a second or successive petition. Id. (citing Robinson v. Johnson, 313 F.3d 128, 139 (3d Cir. 2002)). In deciding which option to implement, the court should evaluate whether the petitioner has alleged ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.