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Simpson v. United States

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Fort Worth Division

April 22, 2019

ASHLEY SIMPSON, Movant,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JOHN MCBRYDE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Came on for consideration the motion of Ashley Simpson ("movant") under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to vacate, set aside, or correct sentence. After having considered the motion, its supporting memorandum, the government's response and supplemental response, the reply, and pertinent parts of the record in No. 4:16-CR-213-A, styled "United States of America v. Ashley Simpson, et al.," the court has concluded three of the grounds of the motion are meritless and should be denied, and that the fourth ground, while probably without merit, requires a hearing before a ruling can be made thereon.

         I. Background

         Information contained in the record of the underlying criminal case discloses the following:

         On September 7, 2016, movant and Jose Pablo Morales ("Morales"} were added as defendants in a fourth superseding indictment filed in another criminal case. CR Doc.[1] 20. By order signed September 8, 2016, the court ordered that the offense charged by that indictment against movant and Morales be severed and be deemed the indictment in Case Mo. 4:16-CR-213-A. CR Doc. 21. On October 17, 2016, movant was named in a one-count superseding information charging her with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 5 0 grams or more of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846. CR Doc. 42.

         On October 20, 2016, movant appeared before the court with the intent to enter a plea of guilty to the offense charged without benefit of a plea agreement. CR Doc. 46. Movant and her attorney signed a factual resume setting forth the elements of the offense, the maximum penalty movant faced, and the stipulated facts supporting movant's guilt. CR Doc. 48. Movant and her attorney also signed a waiver of indictment. CR Doc. 47. Under oath, movant stated that no one had made any promise or assurance of any kind to induce her to plead guilty. Further, movant stated her understanding that the guideline range was advisory and was one of many sentencing factors the court could consider; that the guideline range could not be calculated until the presentence report ("PSR") was prepared; the court could impose a sentence more severe than the sentence recommended by the advisory guidelines and movant would be bound by her guilty plea; movant was satisfied with her counsel and had no complaints regarding her representation; and, movant and counsel had reviewed the factual resume and movant understood the meaning of everything in it and the stipulated facts were true. CR Doc. 79.

         The probation officer prepared a PSR reflecting that movant's base offense level was 38. CR Doc. 55. She received a two-level increase for importation of methamphetamine, id. ¶ 23, and a two-level and one-level decrease for acceptance of responsibility, id. ¶¶ 29, 30. Based on a total offense level of 37 and a criminal history category of III, movant's guideline range was 262 to 327 months. Id. ¶ 89. Movant filed objections to the PSR, CR Doc. 75, and the probation officer prepared an addendum to the PSR. CR Doc. 62.

         On March 3, 2017, the court sentenced movant to a term of imprisonment of 2 62 months. CR Doc. 71. The court noted that movant's attorney had made a "lot of good points," and sentenced her at the bottom of the guideline range. CR Doc. 80 at 21. Movant appealed, CR Doc. 77, and the judgment was affirmed. United States v. Simpson, 708 Fed.Appx. 191 (5th Cir. 2018).

         II. Grounds of the Motion

         Movant urges four grounds in support of her motion, worded as follows:

GROUND ONE: Failure to file meritorious issues on appeal that would entitle her to relief

         Doc.[2] 1 at PagelD[3] 4.

GROUND TWO: Failure to object to drug quantity in the ...

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