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Wakefield v. United States

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

June 4, 2019

JOHN ERIC WAKEFIELD, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          WALLACE CAPEL, JR., CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Petitioner John Eric Wakefield (“Wakefield”) is before the court on a pro se motion to vacate, set aside, or correct sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Civ. Doc. 1.[1]

         I. BACKGROUND

         On October 29, 2014, Wakefield pled guilty under a plea agreement to aiding and abetting the possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and 18 U.S.C. § 2, and possession of a firearm to further a drug trafficking crime, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1). See Crim. Doc. 123. On November 23, 2015, the district court sentenced Wakefield to 180 months in prison, consisting of 120 months for the drug count and a consecutive term of 60 months for the firearm count. See Crim. Doc. 293. Judgment was entered by the district court on December 7, 2015. Crim. Doc. 306. Wakefield did not appeal his convictions or sentence.

         On February 8, 2017, the Government filed a motion for reduction in sentence under Rule 35(b) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure in which it requested that Wakefield's sentence on the drug count be reduced by 12 months based on the substantial assistance that Wakefield had provided to the Government. See Crim. Doc. 456. On April 12, 2017, the district court granted the Government's Rule 35(b) motion and ordered Wakefield's sentence on the drug count reduced by 12 months, so that Wakefield's overall sentence became 168 months in prison, consisting of 108 months for the drug count and a consecutive term of 60 months for the firearm count.[2] Crim. Doc. 471.

         On October 10, 2017, Wakefield, acting pro se, filed the instant § 2255 motion presenting claims that (1) his trial counsel induced him to plead guilty using “the ruse of a ‘significant reduction' in Mr. Wakefield's sentence in exchange for ‘substantial assistance' to the government”; (2) his guilty plea was not entered knowingly and voluntarily; and (3) his trial counsel failed to investigate the charges and facts of the case, resulting in his pleading guilty when he otherwise would not have done so. Civ. Doc. 1 at 4-8.

         The Government filed a response to Wakefield's § 2255 motion in which it argued, among other things, that the motion was time-barred under AEDPA's one-year limitation period. Civ. Doc. 4. Wakefield was allowed to reply to the Government's response and to show cause why his § 2255 motion should not be dismissed on grounds of untimeliness. See Civ. Docs. 5 & 6.

         For the reasons that follow, it is recommended that Wakefield's § 2255 motion be denied without an evidentiary hearing and that this case be dismissed with prejudice.

         II. DISCUSSION

         In 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:

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 ...

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