United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
KENNETH M. HOYT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Jacobi Scott pled guilty to conspiracy to commit sex
trafficking. This Court sentenced him to a 120 month term of
imprisonment, five years of supervised release, and a $100
special assessment. See Judgment (Dkt. No. 60). This
case is before the Court on Scott's motion to vacate, set
aside, or correct his sentence (Dkt. No. 65), and the
government's motion to dismiss Scott's motion (Dkt.
No. 79). Having carefully considered Scott's motion, the
government's motion, Scott's response, all the
arguments and authorities submitted by the parties, and the
entire record, the Court is of the opinion that the
government's motion should be granted, and Scott's
motion should be denied.
was indicted for trafficking a minor to engage in commercial
sex acts in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1591(a)(1), and
(b)(1) and (2). Scott pled guilty to conspiracy to commit sex
trafficking pursuant to a written plea agreement containing
appellate and postconviction waivers. Plea Agreement (Dkt.
No. 42) at 3.
Applicable Legal Standards
brings this motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, which
provides for relief “for errors that occurred at trial
or sentencing.” Jeffers v. Chandler, 253 F.3d
827, 830 (5th Cir. 2001). The motion contends that
Scott received ineffective assistance of counsel at
sentencing because his counsel failed to argue disparity in
Scott's sentence as compared to other individuals
sentenced for similar crimes, and failed to argue
misapplications of the sentencing guidelines.
plea agreement contains an express waiver of Scott's
right to collaterally attack his sentence. “Defendant
knowingly and voluntarily waives the right to contest his/her
conviction or sentence by means of any post-conviction
proceeding.” Plea Agreement (Dkt. No. 42) at 3. The
government argues that Scott thus waived his right to attack
his conviction and sentence. The right to challenge a
conviction or sentence on appeal or in postconviction
proceedings is waivable. See, e.g.,
United States v. Burns, 433 F.3d 442, 446
(5th Cir. 2005); United States v. Baymon,
312 F.3d 725, 727 (5th Cir. 2005). To determine if
the waiver is valid and binding, this Court must determine
whether the waiver was knowing and voluntary, and whether the
plain language of the waiver applies to this proceeding.
United States v. Bond, 414 F.3d 542, 544
motion and supporting briefs argue merely that counsel failed
to sufficiently contest the sentence. Scott does not contend
that the sentence is outside the range specified in the plea
agreement. See Plea Agreement at 1-2 (specifying a
statutory sentencing range of up to life imprisonment, a fine
of up to $250, 000, and up to five years supervised release).
The plea agreement expressly states that “Defendant . .
. acknowledges that the Court has authority to impose any
sentence up to and including the statutory maximum . . . and
that the sentence to be imposed is within the sole discretion
of the sentencing judge . . . .” Id. at 5.
Thus, Scott was aware that his plea exposed him to a sentence
of up to life imprisonment. The 120 month sentence he
received is well within the range to which he agreed with his
ineffective assistance of counsel can overcome the waiver
“only when the claimed [ineffective] assistance
directly affected the validity of that waiver or the plea
itself.” United States v. White, 307 F.3d 336,
343 (5th Cir. 2002). Scott's complaints about
counsel's performance pertain to the sentence that was
ultimately imposed, but that sentence falls within the
parameters discussed in the written plea agreement.
Therefore, Scott cannot plausibly contend that he would not
have pled guilty if he knew he would receive a sentence of
120 months, and the alleged ineffective assistance of counsel
does not affect the validity of the waiver or the plea.
was aware of the effects of his plea agreement. His plea was
thus knowing. Moreover, Scott has not shown that he was in
any way coerced or threatened, or that the plea was in any
way involuntary. He chose to plead guilty, and thus waived
his right to bring this action.
foregoing reasons, Scott has waived his right to bring this
action. His motion is therefore denied, and the
government's motion to dismiss is granted.