United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Eastern Division
RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE
CHARLES S. COODY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
October 2, 2014, Petitioner William Oneil Edwards pleaded
guilty under a plea agreement to conspiracy to sponsor,
exhibit, buy, sell, possess, train, or transport a dog for
participation in an animal fighting venture, in violation of
18 U.S.C. § 371 & 7 U.S.C. § 2156(a)(1) &
(b), and possession of a firearm as a convicted felon, in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). The plea
agreement contained an appeal/post-conviction waiver on
sentencing issues, with exceptions for claims of ineffective
assistance of counsel and prosecutorial misconduct. Following
a sentencing hearing on January 15, 2015, the district court
sentenced Edwards to 42 months in prison, consisting of
consecutive terms of 18 months for the dogfighting conspiracy
and 24 months for the firearm count. The district court
ordered that the sentence be followed by a term of three
years of supervised release.
appealed, challenging the reasonableness of the district
court's total 42-month sentence. The Eleventh Circuit
dismissed Edwards's appeal based on the appeal waiver in
his plea agreement.
March 10, 2016, Edwards filed a 28 U.S.C. § 2255 motion
in this court presenting the following claims:
1. His trial counsel rendered ineffective by giving him
inaccurate advice about the sentence he would receive upon
pleading guilty. Specifically, counsel told him he would only
be sentenced to a maximum guideline range of 21 to 27 months
in prison based on the firearm count, which would run
concurrently with any sentence imposed for the conspiracy
2. Trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object when
the district court violated the notice requirement in
Fed.R.Crim.P. 32(h) in imposing his sentence.
3. The Government breached the plea agreement by moving for
an upward variance at sentencing and by not recommending that
his sentences run concurrently.
4. The district court erred when it granted an upward
variance at sentencing.
Doc. # 1 at 4-7; Doc. # 1-1 at 6-19.
memorandum filed to support his § 2255 motion, Edwards
asked the court “to vacate his two consecutive
sentences and order the Government to honor the promise that
induced him to plead guilty: that he be sentenced to
concurrent terms of imprisonment.” Doc. # 2 at 20.
Alternatively, he asked that the court “grant an
evidentiary hearing on the constitutional issues raised [in
his § 2255 motion].” Id.
1, 2016, the Government filed a response to Edwards's
§ 2255 motion arguing that Edwards's ineffective
assistance of counsel claims lacked merit and that his claims
raising substantive sentencing issues were barred from
collateral review by the waiver provision in his plea
agreement. Doc. # 7.
2, 2016, this court issued an order allowing Edwards until
June 22, 2016, to file a reply to the Government's
response to his § 2255 motion. Doc. # 8. Subsequently,
on August 2, 2016, the court granted Edwards's motion for
an extension of time to and including September 2, 2016, to
file a reply to the Government's response to his §
2255 motion. See Docs. # 11 & 13. The requisite
time passed, however, without Edwards filing a reply to the
February 7, 2018, after taking notice that the Federal Bureau
of Prisons' online database
(https://www.bop.gov/inmateloc/) indicated that
Edwards was released from federal incarceration on February
3, 2017, this court entered an order directing Edwards to
notify that court of his current address and advise the court
by March 20, 2018, whether he wished to prosecute this action
and still sought the relief he ...