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United States v. Morales

United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Victoria Division

May 7, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff/Respondent,
v.
JUAN MORALES, Defendant/Movant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

          JOHN D. RAINEY SENIOR U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         Defendant/Movant Juan Morales filed a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 and memorandum in support (D.E. 26, 27).[1]Pending before the Court is the United States of America's (the "Government") Motion for Summary Judgment (D.E. 37), wherein the Government moves the Court to dismiss the motion as untimely and substantively meritless. Movant has responded. D.E. 39.[2]

         I. BACKGROUND

         In 2001, Movant pled guilty to conspiracy to traffic cocaine and marijuana and engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from unlawful activity, in No. 3:00-CR-108 in the Northern District of Florida. He was sentenced to 20 years in the Bureau of Prisons (BOP). In January 2009, Movant was transferred to the minimum security federal prison camp located in Three Rivers, Texas. Two months later, he went missing. He remained a fugitive until he was arrested on June 14, 2016.

         Meanwhile, on April 16, 2009, Movant was indicted in the current criminal case on one count of escape from a federal corrections facility, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 751(a). On September 7, 2016, he pled guilty to escape, for which he was sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment (9 months concurrent and 9 months consecutive to the undischarged term of imprisonment in No. 3:00-CR-108), followed by two years' supervised release. Judgment was entered December 12, 2016. Movant did not appeal. He filed the current motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 on June 18, 2018.

         II. MOVANT'S ALLEGATIONS

         Movant raises a single ground for relief: His escape conviction violated the Double! Jeopardy Clause because the BOP had already tried him in absentia and subjected him to the "criminal sanction" of loss of good time credit towards his sentence in No. 3:00-CR-108.

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. 28 U.S.C. § 2255

         There are four cognizable grounds upon which a federal prisoner may move to vacate, set i aside, or correct his sentence: (1) constitutional issues, (2) challenges to the district court's jurisdiction to impose the sentence, (3) challenges to the length of a sentence in excess of the statutory maximum, and (4) claims that the sentence is otherwise subject to collateral attack. 28 U.S.C. § 2255; United States v. Placente, 81 F.3d 555, 558 (5th Cir. 1996). "Relief under! 28 U.S.C. § 2255 is reserved for transgressions of constitutional rights and for a narrow range of injuries that could not have been raised on direct appeal and would, if condoned, result in a complete miscarriage of justice." United States v. Vaughn, 955 F.2d 367, 368 (5th Cir. 1992) (per curiam). In addition, "a collateral challenge may not do service for an appeal." United States v. Frady, 456 U.S. 152, 165(1982).

         B. Statute of Limitations

          A motion made under § 2255 is subject to a one-year statute of limitations, which, in most cases, begins to run when the judgment becomes final. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f).[3] The Fifth Circuit and the Supreme Court have held that a judgment becomes final when the applicable period for seeking review of a final conviction has expired. Clay v. United States, 537 U.S. 522, 531-32 (2003); United States v. Gamble, 208 F.3d 536, 536-37 (5th Cir. 2000) (per curiam). Movant's conviction became final on December 26, 2016, the last day to file a timely notice of appeal. See Fed. R. App. P. 4(b). His § 2255 motion was dated June 18, 2018. The Government argues the motion is therefore time barred because it was filed nearly six months after the limitations period expired on December 26, 2017.

         The one-year statute of limitations may also begin to run from "the date on which the facts supporting the claim or claims presented could have been discovered through the exercise of due diligence." 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f)(4). Movant claims the clock did not begin to run until November 6, 2017, when he was notified that the BOP had denied his administrative appeal regarding his loss of good time credits. See D.E. 27-1. The Court agrees and finds that Movant's motion is timely under § 2255(f)(4).

         C. ...


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