Whiteside v. United States

Decision Date19 December 2014
Docket NumberNo. 13–7152.,13–7152.
Citation775 F.3d 180
PartiesDeangelo Marquis WHITESIDE, Petitioner–Appellant, v. UNITED STATES of America, Respondent–Appellee.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Fourth Circuit

ARGUED:Ann Loraine Hester, Federal Defenders of Western North Carolina, Inc., Charlotte, North Carolina, for Appellant. Amy Elizabeth Ray, Office of the United States Attorney, Asheville, North Carolina, for Appellee. ON BRIEF:Henderson Hill, Executive Director, Federal Defenders of Western North Carolina, Inc., Charlotte, North Carolina, for Appellant. Anne M. Tompkins, United States Attorney, Office of the United States Attorney, Charlotte, North Carolina, for Appellee.


Affirmed by published opinion. Judge WILKINSON wrote the opinion, in which Chief Judge TRAXLER, and Judges NIEMEYER, MOTZ, KING, SHEDD, DUNCAN, AGEE, KEENAN, FLOYD, THACKER and HARRIS joined. Judge GREGORY wrote a dissenting opinion, in which Senior Judge DAVIS joined. Judge WYNN wrote a dissenting opinion. Judge DIAZ did not participate in this decision.


WILKINSON, Circuit Judge:

Deangelo Whiteside pled guilty to a charge of possession with intent to distribute at least 50 grams of cocaine base, pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). Based upon his criminal record, he received the career offender enhancement under the United States Sentencing Guidelines and was sentenced to 210 months imprisonment. Whiteside now raises various claims on a 28 U.S.C. § 2255 petition arguing that his sentence should be vacated in light of United States v. Simmons, 649 F.3d 237 (4th Cir.2011) (en banc). In accordance with the relevant statutes, and in reliance upon Supreme Court and circuit precedent, we hold that the filing of the § 2255 petition was untimely, and we therefore affirm the district court's dismissal of the petition. We decline to address the other claims raised by the petitioner.


Starting in 2007, various drug dealers in Asheville, North Carolina, began identifying Deangelo Marquis Whiteside as a wholesale crack cocaine distributor in the area. Following an investigation, Whiteside was charged on July 22, 2009 in the Western District of North Carolina with one count of possession with intent to distribute more than 50 grams of cocaine base in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). Prior to his plea agreement, the government notified Whiteside that it intended to pursue an enhanced penalty under 21 U.S.C. § 851 based on his 2002 North Carolina conviction for possession with intent to manufacture, sell, or deliver a controlled substance.

The presentence report determined that petitioner was accountable for 1951.9 net grams of powder cocaine and 468.3 net grams of cocaine base. Under 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A), this quantity of drugs would have subjected him to a mandatory minimum of ten years in prison. The report detailed as well Whiteside's lengthy criminal record, including numerous controlled-substances offenses, assault with a deadly weapon on a government officer, and additional counts of assault, hit and run, and resisting a public officer, which, independent of any career offender enhancement, established a criminal history category of V. See JA at 137. Whiteside did, however, qualify for the career offender sentencing enhancement under § 4B1.1 of the United States Sentencing Guidelines based on the 2002 conviction and another 1999 North Carolina conviction for possession with intent to manufacture, sell, and deliver cocaine.

The presentence report, accepted by the district court, recommended an advisory guidelines range of 262 to 327 months based on the offense conduct, Whiteside's criminal record, and a three-level reduction for acceptance of responsibility. The government made a motion under § 5K1.1 of the Sentencing Guidelines for a downward departure for substantial assistance, which the court accepted. In light of the motion and after full consideration of the sentencing factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a), the district judge ultimately sentenced Whiteside to 210 months. The court entered judgment on July 20, 2010, and petitioner did not pursue a direct appeal. His conviction became final on August 3, 2010, when his time for appeal expired.

On May 18, 2012, petitioner filed a motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to vacate his sentence in light of United States v. Simmons, 649 F.3d 237 (4th Cir.2011) (en banc). He argued that the sentence should be vacated because after Simmons his prior drug offenses would no longer qualify as predicate felony convictions for purposes of sentencing enhancements, including the career offender enhancement under § 4B1.1 of the guidelines. See Appellant's Br. at 5. Assuming he would again receive a three-level reduction for acceptance of responsibility and a substantial assistance downward departure, Whiteside contends that, if resentenced, he would be subject to a markedly lower advisory guidelines range. Id. The government responds that the district court “possessed both the statutory authority and the discretion to impose the sentence it imposed, and were this case remanded and [p]etitioner resentenced, the district court could properly impose the same sentence, even without application of the career-offender enhancement.” Gov't Br. at 47.

The threshold issue before this court concerns the timeliness of Whiteside's § 2255 petition. The district court for the Western District of North Carolina denied petitioner's motion as untimely and declined to apply equitable tolling. A divided panel of this court vacated the sentence and remanded for resentencing, holding that the statutory limitations period should be equitably tolled and that Whiteside's claims were otherwise cognizable on collateral review. See Whiteside v. United States, 748 F.3d 541 (4th Cir.2014). A majority of the active judges in the circuit voted to rehear the case en banc. See Order Granting Rehearing En Banc of July 10, 2014. We now hold that the petition is untimely and affirm the district court's dismissal of it.


Petitions for collateral relief filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 are subject to a one-year statute of limitations governed by § 2255(f).1 The statute provides that the one-year clock is triggered by one of four conditions, whichever occurs latest:

(1) the date on which the judgment of conviction becomes final;
(2) the date on which the impediment to making a motion created by governmental action in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States is removed, if the movant was prevented from making a motion by such governmental action;(3) the date on which the right asserted was initially recognized by the Supreme Court, if that right has been newly recognized by the Supreme Court and made retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review; or
(4) 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)(1)-(4).


Petitioner contends that his claim falls under § 2255(f)(4), and that United States v. Simmons, 649 F.3d 237 (4th Cir.2011) (en banc), qualified as a new “fact” for purposes of that provision. Whiteside's suit would be timely under this theory, since he filed his petition less than a year after Simmons was handed down.

Whiteside grounds his argument on the Supreme Court's decision in Johnson v. United States, 544 U.S. 295, 125 S.Ct. 1571, 161 L.Ed.2d 542 (2005). In Johnson, the defendant's sentence in the original proceeding was enhanced on the basis of two state convictions, one of which was later vacated. Following vacatur, Johnson sought federal post-conviction relief, contending that his enhanced sentence was no longer valid. Johnson's conviction had become final more than a year before his § 2255 petition was filed, but the Court concluded that the vacatur qualified as a new fact for purposes of subsection (f)(4). See Johnson, 544 U.S. at 300-02. As the Court noted:

We commonly speak of the “fact of a prior conviction,” and an order vacating a predicate conviction is spoken of as a fact just as sensibly as the order entering it. In either case, a claim of such a fact is subject to proof or disproof like any other factual issue.

Id. at 306–07, 125 S.Ct. 1571 (internal citation omitted).

Johnson does not govern Whiteside's claim. Simmons represented a change of law, not fact. The circuits to have considered this type of issue have uniformly reached the same conclusion. See, e.g., Phillips v. United States, 734 F.3d 573, 580–83 (6th Cir.2013) (finding the petition untimely where an intervening change in the law was insufficient to render the petitioner actually innocent); Lo v. Endicott, 506 F.3d 572, 575 (7th Cir.2007) (finding that an intervening change in law was not a new factual predicate sufficient to reset the statute of limitations period under AEDPA); E.J.R.E. v. United States, 453 F.3d 1094, 1098 (8th Cir.2006) (rejecting an intervening change in law as insufficient to reset the statute of limitations period under AEDPA and declining to equitably toll the statute of limitations); Shannon v. Newland, 410 F.3d 1083, 1088–89 (9th Cir.2005) (same); see also Minter v. Beck, 230 F.3d 663, 666 (4th Cir.2000) (rejecting, in a similar context, defendant's attempt to invoke a change in law as an impediment to filing a habeas petition sufficient to toll AEDPA's statute of limitations).2

Contrary to the vacatur at issue in Johnson, Simmons did not directly alter Whiteside's legal status as a prior state offender. See Lo, 506 F.3d at 575. A conviction is a fact for sentencing purposes, but a relevant legal rule is not. Simmons, “unlike a predicate conviction, is a ruling exclusively within the domain of the courts and is incapable of being proved or disproved.” E.J.R.E., 453 F.3d at 1098. This point is illustrated by...

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1 books & journal articles
  • Review Proceedings
    • United States
    • Georgetown Law Journal No. 110-Annual Review, August 2022
    • August 1, 2022
    ...2015) (limitation not tolled because attorney’s failure to anticipate change in law not extraordinary circumstance); Whiteside v. U.S., 775 F.3d 180, 185-86 (4th Cir. 2014) (limitation not tolled because unfavorable development in law demonstrated no obstacle to f‌iling petition); Clark v. ......

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