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Snell-Quick v. United States

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

October 3, 2018

MEQUETTA SNELL-QUICK, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          SUSAN RUSS WALKER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Before the court is Mequetta Snell-Quick's pro se motion for relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Doc. 1.[1]

         I. INTRODUCTION

         On April 6, 2015, Snell-Quick pleaded guilty under a plea agreement to one count of conspiring to defraud the United States with respect to claims, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 286, and aggravated identity theft, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1028A(a)(1). Snell-Quick's convictions stemmed from her participation in a far-ranging scheme to obtain tax refunds by filing fraudulent tax returns using stolen identities. Her plea agreement contained a provision by which she waived her right to appeal or collaterally attack her conviction and sentence, with exceptions for claims of ineffective assistance of counsel and prosecutorial misconduct. Doc. 3-2 at 6-7. Following a sentencing hearing on August 7, 2015, the district court sentenced Snell-Quick to 24 months and one day in prison, consisting of one day on the conspiracy count and 24 months on the identity theft count, the terms to run consecutively. Doc. 1-1 at 2. Snell-Quick did not appeal.

         On August 9, 2106, Snell-Quick filed this § 2255 motion asserting that she should receive a “minor role” reduction to her sentence based on Amendment 794 to § 3B1.2 of the Sentencing Guidelines. For the reasons that follow, the Magistrate Judge recommends that Snell-Quick's § 2255 motion be denied without an evidentiary hearing and that this case be dismissed with prejudice.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. General Legal Standard

         Because collateral review is not a substitute for direct appeal, the grounds for collateral attack on final judgments under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 are limited. A prisoner may secure relief under § 2255 if the court imposed a sentence that (1) violated the constitution or laws of the United States, (2) exceeded its jurisdiction, (3) exceeded the maximum authorized by law, or (4) is otherwise subject to collateral attack. See 28 U.S.C. § 2255; United States v. Phillips, 225 F.3d 1198, 1199 (11th Cir. 2000); United States v. Walker, 198 F.3d 811, 813 n.5 (11th Cir. 1999). “Relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 ‘is reserved for transgressions of constitutional rights and for that narrow compass of other injury that could not have been raised in direct appeal and would, if condoned, result in a complete miscarriage of justice.'” Lynn v. United States, 365 F.3d 1225, 1232 (11th Cir. 2004) (citations omitted). The “fundamental miscarriage of justice” exception recognized in Murray v. Carrier, 477 U.S. 478, 496 (1986), provides that it must be shown that the alleged constitutional violation “has probably resulted in the conviction of one who is actually innocent.”

         B. Amendment 794 to U.S.S.G. § 3B1.2

         Snell-Quick maintains she should receive a retroactive minor role reduction to her sentence based on the November 1, 2015 amendment (Amendment 794) to U.S.S.G. § 3B1.2. Doc. 1 at 4 & 12.

         Section 3B1.2 of the Sentencing Guidelines provides that a defendant's offense level should be decreased as follows:

(a) If the defendant was a minimal participant in any criminal activity, decrease by 4 levels.
(b) If the defendant was a minor participant in any criminal activity, decrease by 2 levels.

         In cases falling between (a) and (b), decrease by 3 levels. ...


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