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Jennings v. United States

United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division

August 26, 2014

RHONDA JENNINGS, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE

SUSAN RUSS WALKER, Chief Magistrate Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

On August 16, 2012, federal inmate Rhonda Jennings ("Jennings") filed this pro se motion to vacate, set aside, or correct sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Doc. No. 1. Jennings challenges her 2005 guilty-plea convictions and sentence for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine and 500 grams or more of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846 and 841(a)(1), and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). The government maintains that Jennings's § 2255 motion is time-barred because it was filed after expiration of the one-year limitation period. Doc. No. 3. The court concludes the government is correct and that the § 2255 motion should be denied because it was not filed within the time allowed by federal law.

II. DISCUSSION

A. One-year Limitation Period

The timeliness of Jennings's § 2255 motion is governed by 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f). That section provides:

A 1-year period of limitation shall apply to a motion under this section. The limitation period shall run from the latest of-
(1) the date on which the judgment of conviction becomes final;
(2) the date on which the impediment to making a motion created by governmental action in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States is removed, if the movant was prevented from making a motion by such governmental action;
(3) the date on which the right asserted was initially recognized by the Supreme Court, if that right has been newly recognized by the Supreme Court and made retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review; or
(4) the date on which the facts supporting the claim or claims presented could have been discovered through the exercise of due diligence.

28 U.S.C. § 2255(f).

On August 19, 2005, Jennings pled guilty under a plea agreement to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine and 500 grams or more of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846 and 841(a)(1), and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). On November 29, 2005, she was sentenced to 181 months in prison (121 months for the conspiracy count followed by a consecutive term of 60 months for the § 924(c) count). Judgment was entered by the district court on December 1, 2005. Jennings took no appeal. Therefore, her conviction was "final" on December 12, 2005, the first business day after December 11, 2005.[1] Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f)(1), Jennings had until December 12, 2006, to file a timely § 2255 motion. Her § 2255 motion filed on August 16, 2012, is untimely under § 2255(f)(1).

Jennings maintains that her § 2255 motion is timely - presumably under 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f)(3) - because it was filed within one year after the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals' decision in United States v. Simmons, 649 F.3d 237 (4th Cir. 2011). See Doc. No. 1 at 4, 5, 10-13. In Simmons, the Fourth Circuit applied Carachuri-Rosendo v. Holder, 560 U.S. 563 (2010), to find that a federal defendant's prior North Carolina conviction for non-aggravated, first-time marijuana possession was for an offense not "punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, " and thus did not qualify as a predicate felony conviction for purposes of the Controlled Substances Act. Simmons, 649 F.3d at 248-49. Carachuri, which was decided by the Supreme Court in June 2010, dealt with under what circumstances a prior conviction for simple possession of a controlled substance can constitute an "aggravated felony" under 8 U.S.C. § 1229b(a)(3). The Supreme Court held that the statutory enhancements for recidivism regarding simple possession under 18 U.S.C. § 844 do not render a prior conviction a conviction for an aggravated felony, where recidivism ...


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