United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE
F. MOORER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
the court is Lea'Tice Phillips's
(“Phillips”) motion to vacate, set aside, or
correct sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Civil Action
No. 2:15cv923-WKW, Doc. No. 1.For the reasons that follow, it is
the Recommendation of the magistrate judge that
Phillips's § 2255 motion be denied and this action
be dismissed with prejudice.
30, 2013, Phillips pleaded guilty under a plea agreement to
wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343, and
aggravated identity theft, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
1028A(a)(1), (c)(1). On September, 23, 2013, the district
court sentenced Phillips to 94 months in prison, comprising
70 months on the wire fraud count and a mandatory consecutive
term of 24 months for aggravated identity theft. The court
ordered that Phillips's incarceration be followed by
three years of supervised release. Judgment was entered by
the district court on October 2, 2013. Phillips's plea
agreement contained a provision whereby she waived her right
to appeal or collaterally attack her convictions and sentence
except on grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel and
prosecutorial misconduct. Id., Doc. No. 3-2 at 6-7.
did not appeal. In January 2015, however, she sent a pro
se letter/motion to the court asking that her sentence
be reduced on the ground that District Judge Mark Fuller, who
presided over her September 2013 sentencing, had been
arrested for domestic violence in August 2014 and was biased
against her at the time of sentencing because she was a
victim of domestic abuse. Id., Doc. No. 3-4. Phillips
argued that Judge Fuller's bias was the reason her
sentence on the wire fraud count (70 months) was above the
bottom of the guidelines range, which the presentence
investigation report (“PSI”) calculated to be 63
to 78 months' imprisonment. Id. On February 19,
2016, after construing Phillips's letter/motion as a
Motion to Reduce Sentence, Chief United States District Judge
W. Keith Watkins entered an order denying the Motion to
Reduce Sentence. Criminal Case No. 2:13cr10, Doc. No. 55.
second pro se letter/motion-this one received by the
court on December 16, 2015-Phillips argued she was entitled
to a sentence reduction under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2)
based on amendments to the Sentencing Guidelines that became
effective on November 1, 2015. Civil Action No.
2:15cv923-WKW, Doc. No. 3-7. That filing was also construed
by this court as a Motion to Reduce Sentence, and an February
22, 2016, Judge Watkins entered an order denying the motion.
Criminal Case No. 2:13cr10, Doc. No. 56.
December 16, 2015, this court received from Phillips the 28
U.S.C. § 2255 motion under consideration in this
Recommendation. Civil Action No. 2:15cv923-WKW, Doc. No. 1.
In her § 2255 motion, which Phillips dates as having
been executed on June 22, 2015,  Phillips presents a claim
(like the claim in her letter/motion of January 2015) that
Judge Fuller was biased against her at sentencing because she
was a victim of domestic abuse. Id. at 3-4 & 7.
Phillips points to Judge Fuller's August 2014 arrest on
domestic violence charges as evidence of his bias.
§ 2255 motion presents a second, somewhat unclear, claim
that she was treated for depression “due to work
conditions” at her former job several years before her
arrest, for which she received counseling and was prescribed
medication. Id. at 3 & 6-7. According to
Phillips, by the time of sentencing, she had completed her
counseling sessions and “was off the medication for
approximately three years.” Id. at 6. As a
special condition of Phillips's supervised release, Judge
Fuller ordered that she participate in a mental health
treatment program approved by the Probation Office.
See Criminal Case No. 2:13cr10, Doc. No. 43 at 19.
Phillips suggests that Judge Fuller imposed this condition on
her supervised release on the mistaken belief she was in need
of mental health treatment for her work-related depression
for which she had already been successfully treated. Civil
Action No. 2:15cv923-WKW, Doc. No. 1 at 6. She then appears
to argue that, rather than ordering that she participate in a
mental health treatment program, Judge Fuller should have
imposed a shorter sentence of incarceration. Id.
Phillips's “Mental Health” Claim
noted above, Phillips argues that Judge Fuller should have
imposed a shorter sentence of incarceration instead of
ordering that she participate in a mental health treatment
program as part of the supervised release that will follow
her incarceration. Civil Action No. 2:15cv923-WKW, Doc. No. 1
at 3 & 6-7. The Government maintains that this claim is
time-barred under the one-year limitation period in 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255(f). Doc. No. 3 at 3-5.
1996, Congress enacted the Antiterrorism and Effective Death
Penalty Act (“AEDPA”), which established a
one-year limitation period for filing a motion under 28
U.S.C. § 2255. In pertinent part, AEDPA amended §
2255 to provide:
1-year period of limitation shall apply to a motion under
this section. The limitation ...