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Williams v. United States

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division

November 13, 2019

ANDREW WILLIAMS, Movant,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER AND ORDER DENYING CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY

          ED KINKEADE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is the Motion Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody, filed by counsel on November 18, 2016 (See 3:16-CV-3242-K, doc. 1). Based on the relevant findings and applicable law, the motion is DENIED with prejudice.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Andrew Williams (Movant) challenges his federal conviction and sentence in Cause No. 3:13-CR-295-K-23. The respondent is the United States of America (Government).

         On August 6, 2013, Movant was charged by indictment with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 1, 000 kilograms or more of marijuana, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(A), and 846. (See 3:13-CR-295-k-3, doc. 1.) Then, on October 2, 2013, he was charged in a superseding indictment with the same charge. (See id., doc. 227.) Finally, on May 9, 2014, he was charged by superseding information with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 100 kilograms or more of marijuana. (See id., doc. 592.)

         Movant was represented by attorney Lawrence W. Levin from his initial appearance through his guilty plea. Attorney Kirk F. Lechtenberger became Movant's counsel shortly thereafter, on October 20, 2014, and represented him through sentencing.

         In a factual resume, Movant agreed that he was part of a conspiracy that involved 100 kilograms or more of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of marijuana, and that he committed the essential elements of the drug conspiracy. (See id., doc. 596 at 2-3.) He further agreed that the limited purpose of the factual resume was to demonstrate that a factual basis existed to support his plea of guilty to the superseding information. (See id., doc. 596 at 3.)

         In the plea agreement, Movant agreed to plead guilty to the superseding information, and the parties agreed that the maximum and minimum penalties that the Court could impose were not less than five years nor more than 40 years. (See id., doc. 594 at 1-2.) Movant agreed to waive his rights to appeal from his conviction or sentence. (See id., doc. 594 at 6.) He reserved his right to bring a direct appeal (of a sentence exceeding the statutory maximum punishment, or an arithmetic error at sentencing); a challenge to the voluntariness of his plea of guilty or the waiver; and to bring a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. (See id., doc. 594 at 6.)

         On September 3, 2014, the United States Probation Office (USPO) filed a Presentence Report (PSR) in which it applied the November 1, 2013 United States Sentencing Guidelines Manual (USSG). (See id., doc. 783-1 at 10, ¶ 35.) For count one, the base offense level was calculated under USSG §2D1.1 and determined to be 32. (See id., doc. 783-1 at 10, ¶ 36.) Two levels were added because a dangerous weapon was possessed. (See id., doc. 783-1 at 11, ¶ 37.) Two additional levels were added because Movant maintained a premises for the purpose of distributing a controlled substance. (See id., doc. 783-1 at 11, ¶ 38.) Three levels were added because he was a manager or a supervisor (but not an organizer or leader) and the criminal activity involved five or more participants or was otherwise extensive. (See id., doc. 783-1 at 11, ¶ 40.) Based on a criminal history category history category of I and a total offense level of 36, the resulting guideline range was 188 to 235 months. (See id., doc. 783-1 at 20, ¶ 98.) Movant was also subject to a minimum term of imprisonment of 5 years and a maximum term of imprisonment of 40 years. (See id., doc. 783-1 at 20, ¶ 97) (citing 21 U.S.C. 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(B), 846).

         Counsel objected to the two-level gun enhancement. (See id., doc. 952 at 1-2.) Counsel also objected to the two-level enhancement for maintaining a premises for the purpose of distributing a controlled substance. (See id., doc. 952 at 2-3.) Counsel objected to the three-level enhancement on the basis that he was a manager or supervisor. (See id., doc. 952 at 3-4.) Finally, counsel objected to the two-point reduction for safety valve not being factored into the computation. (See id., doc. 952 at 4.) Counsel sought a two-level reduction for the proposed amendment to the guidelines that were expected to become effective on November 1, 2014. (See id., doc. 952 at 4.) In the PSR Addendum, the USPO agreed with counsel's two-level objection corresponding to the November 1, 2014 Guidelines Manual. (See id., doc. 960-1.)

         Prior to sentencing, the Government filed a motion for a four-level downward departure pursuant to USSG §5K1.1 and 18 U.S.C. § 3553(e). (See id., doc. 1132.) At sentencing, held on November 12, 2015, the Court overruled the objections, accepted the findings of the USPO as the findings of the Court, and granted the §5K1.1 motion. (See id., doc. 1205 at 21.) The offense level was determined to be 30, Movant's guideline range was 97 to 121 months, and he had a mandatory minimum of 60 months. (See id., doc. 1205 at 3.) He was sentenced to 60 months' imprisonment, which was a below-guidelines sentence. (See id., doc. 1136 at 2.)

         Movant did not file a direct appeal. On November 18, 2016, Movant filed his § 2255 motion and brief in support. (See 3:16-CV-3242-K, docs. 1, 2.) The Government filed a response. (See id., doc. 5.) Movant filed a reply. (See id., doc. 6.)

         II. SCOPE OF RELIEF UNDER § 2255

         “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. Gaudet, 81 F.3d 585, 589 (5th Cir. 1996) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). It is well-established that “a collateral challenge may not do service for an appeal.” United ...


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