United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Corpus Christi Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
D. RAINEY SENIOR U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
Steven Reynaldo Perez filed a motion to vacate, set aside, or
correct sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255
challenging the Court's jurisdiction over his criminal
conviction for possession with intent to distribute cocaine.
D.E. 93; Case No. 2:18-CV-320, D.E.
Prior to filing his § 2255 motion, he also filed a
motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 raising the same
claim, which he later amended. Case No. 2:18-CV-185, D.E. 1,
13. By written Order entered May 13, 2019, the Honorable
Hilda G. Tagle construed Movant's § 2241 motion as a
motion seeking habeas relief under § 2255 and reassigned
the case to the undersigned judge. Id., D.E. 21.
Because both motions raise a single, identical claim, the
Court will consider them as one § 2255 motion.
pending is the United States of America's (the
“Government”) Motion to Dismiss (D.E. 101),
wherein the Government moves the Court to dismiss the motions
as untimely, substantively meritless, and procedurally
barred. Movant has responded. D.E. 102.
December 2003, Movant pled guilty to possession with intent
to distribute 124.5 grams of cocaine, in violation of 21
U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(C). He was
sentenced to 27 months' imprisonment, to be followed by 3
years' supervised release. Judgment was entered February
18, 2004. He did not appeal.
was released from federal custody in November 2005. However,
in July 2008, he was sentenced to an additional 24
months' imprisonment for violating the terms of his
supervised release after he was convicted of murder in Texas
state court. Movant is currently serving a 60-year sentence
in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ), with a
projected release date of January 12, 2067. Movant's
24-month supervised release revocation sentence was ordered
“to be served consecutively to the state offense the
defendant is presently serving.” D.E. 36, p. 3.
14, 2018, Movant filed his current motion under 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255 challenging his 2003 conviction for possession
with intent to distribute cocaine.
motion raises a single ground for relief: There was no quorum
in the United States House of Representatives on May 12,
1947, when it passed Public Law 80-772, codified at 18 U.S.C.
§ 3231. That statute states, “The district courts
of the United States shall have original jurisdiction,
exclusive of the courts of the States, of all offenses
against the laws of the United States.” 18 U.S.C.
§ 3231. Movant argues that because there was no quorum
in the House of Representatives, § 3231 is invalid.
Thus, the Court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over
Movant's conviction for cocaine trafficking, and he is
actually innocent of this offense.
28 U.S.C. § 2255
are four cognizable grounds upon which a federal prisoner may
move to vacate, set 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).
Statute of Limitations
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). 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). Equitable tolling may allow for a
late-filed motion, but such exceptions to limitations are
rare. Holland v. Florida, 560 U.S. 631, 649 (2010);
United States v. Riggs, 314 F.3d 796, 799 (5th Cir.
2002). The party seeking equitable tolling bears the burden
of demonstrating that tolling is appropriate. United
States v. Petty, 530 F.3d 361, ...