Young v. United States

Decision Date30 August 2013
Docket NumberCase No. 4:06-cr-14,Case No. 4:10-cv-72
CourtU.S. District Court — Eastern District of Tennessee

Judge Edgar


Federal prisoner Jeffory Carl Young ("Young") moves for post-conviction relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. After reviewing the record, the Court concludes that the pro se motion will be denied and dismissed with prejudice. The record conclusively shows that the motion is without merit and he is not entitled to any relief under § 2255. There is no need for an evidentiary hearing.

I. Standard of Review Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255

28 U.S.C. § 2255(a) provides that a federal prisoner may make a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct a judgment of conviction or sentence on the ground that the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, or that the federal district court lacked jurisdiction to impose the sentence, or that the sentence is in excess of the maximum authorized by federal law, or is otherwise subject to collateral attack.

As a threshold standard to relief a § 2255 motion must allege: (1) an error of constitutional magnitude; (2) a sentence was imposed outside the federal statutory limits; or (3) an error of fact or law that was so fundamental as to render the entire criminal proceeding invalid. Short v. United States, 471 F.3d 686, 691 (6th Cir. 2006); Pough v. United States, 442 F.3d 959, 964 (6th Cir. 2006); Mallett v. United States, 334 F.3d 491, 496-97 (6th Cir. 2003); Moss v. United States, 323 F.3d 445,454 (6th Cir. 2003); Weinberger v. United States, 268 F.3d 346, 351 (6th Cir. 2001).

Young bears the burden of establishing an error of federal constitutional magnitude which had a substantial and injurious effect or influence on the criminal proceedings. Reed v. Farley, 512 U.S. 339, 353 (1994); Brecht v. Abrahamson, 507 U.S. 619, 637-38 (1993); Humphress v. United States, 398 F.3d 855, 858 (6th Cir. 2005); Griffin v. United States, 330 F.3d 733, 736 (6th Cir. 2003); Watson v. United States, 165 F.3d 486, 488 (6th Cir. 1999).

A § 2255 motion is not a substitute for a direct appeal. Where nonconstitutional issues are at stake, there is no basis for allowing a collateral attack under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to do service for a direct appeal. Bousley v. United States, 523 U.S. 614, 621 (1998); United States v. Frady, 456 U.S. 152, 167-68 (1982); United States v. Timmreck, 441 U.S. 780, 784 (1979); Regalado v. United States, 334 F.3d 520, 528 (6th Cir. 2003); Grant v. United States, 72 F.3d 503, 506 (6th Cir. 1996). To obtain relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 for a nonconstitutional error, Young must establish either: (1) a fundamental defect in the criminal proceedings which inherently resulted in a complete miscarriage of justice; or (2) an error so egregious that it amounts to a violation of due process. Reed, 512 U.S. at 353-54; Hill v. United States, 368 U.S. 424, 428 (1962); Jones v. United States, 178 F.3d 790, 796 (6th Cir. 1999); Watson, 165 F.3d at 488; Fair v. United States, 157 F.3d 427, 430 (6th Cir. 1998); Grant, 72 F.3d at 505-06.

An evidentiary hearing is unnecessary if there are no genuine issues of material fact in dispute and the record conclusively shows that Young is not entitled to relief under § 2255. An evidentiary hearing is not required where the allegations and claims cannot be accepted as true because they are contradicted by the record, inherently incredible, or mere conclusions rather than statements of fact. Amr v. United States, 280 Fed. Appx. 480, 485 (6th Cir. 2008); Valentine v. United States, 488 F.3d 325, (6th Cir. 2007); Arredondo v. United States, 178 F.3d 778, 782 (6thCir. 1999); Brain v. United States, 2011 WL 1343344, * 2 (E.D. Tenn. April 8, 2011); Jones v. United States, 2010 WL 1882122, * 1 (E.D. Tenn. May 11, 2010).

The burden is on Young to articulate sufficient facts to state a viable claim for relief. Vague, conclusory claims which are not substantiated by allegations of specific facts with some probability of verity are not enough to warrant an evidentiary hearing. A § 2255 motion may be dismissed if it merely makes conclusory statements without substantiating allegations of specific facts and fails to state a claim cognizable under § 2255. Green v. Wingo, 454 F.2d 52, 53 (6th Cir. 1972); O'Malley v. United States, 285 F.2d 733, 735 (6th Cir. 1961); Brain, 2011 WL 1343344, at * 2; Jones, 2010 WL 1882122, at * 2.

II. Facts and Procedural History

The underlying facts are summarized in United States v. Young, 553 F.3d 1035 (6th Cir. 2009), cert. denied, 558 U.S. 873 (2009). A federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Tennessee returned a 20-count superseding indictment against Young and co-defendant Morris Roller ("Roller"). Young was charged with crimes in Counts One, Six, Thirteen, Fourteen, Fifteen, Eighteen, and Nineteen.

Count One charged that from at least in or about 1992, and continuing until in or about May, 2006, in the Eastern District of Tennessee and elsewhere, defendants Young and Roller and other persons known and unknown to the grand jury, conspired to violate 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(A), that is, they conspired to manufacture 1,000 or more marijuana plants regardless of weight, and conspired to distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of a mixture and substance containing marijuana, a Schedule I controlled substance, all in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846.

Counts Six and Nineteen charged Young with aiding and abetting another in the possession with intent to distribute a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of marijuana, aSchedule I controlled substance, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and 18 U.S.C. § 2. Counts Thirteen, Fourteen, Fifteen, and Eighteen charged Young with using a communication facility (telephone) to facilitate violations of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 846, the conspiracy to distribute marijuana, all in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 843(b).

Young and Roller pleaded not guilty and their case proceeded to a jury trial. The government presented evidence concerning an incident where police officers in the Middle District of Tennessee intercepted a truck containing 2,318 pounds of marijuana transported from Mexico. Six Hispanic men were arrested and convicted of criminal offenses in connection with the truckload of marijuana. At Young's trial there was a dispute about whether he was involved with or had a connection to the truckload of marijuana. During closing arguments, Young's counsel argued that there was not enough evidence to connect Young to the truckload of marijuana. This matter is discussed and analyzed by the Sixth Circuit in Young's direct appeal. Young, 553 F.3d 1035.

The jury returned a verdict finding Young guilty on all charges. With regard to Count One, the jury found that Young conspired to manufacture at least 100 but less than 1,000 marijuana plants, and he conspired to distribute at least 100 kilograms but less than 1,000 kilograms of a mixture or substance containing marijuana. It plainly appears from the guilty verdict on Count One that the jury found the government had not proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Young was involved with the intercepted truck containing 2,318 pounds of marijuana as part of the Count One conspiracy.

During the sentencing hearing, this Court determined that Young should be sentenced on the basis that the Count One conspiracy involved more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana. This Court found that the government had proved by a preponderance of the evidence that Young was involved with and should be held responsible for the intercepted truckload of 2,318 pounds of marijuana.Additionally, this Court found that Young had sold at least 530 pounds of marijuana to Pete Murray, and the testimony of Charles Wayne Goff certainly put the quantity of marijuana in excess of 2,200 pounds. This Court further enhanced Young's guideline offense level by four levels because of his leadership role in the Count One marijuana conspiracy. Based on a total adjusted offense level of 36 and a criminal history category of I, Young's advisory guideline range was 188 to 235 months imprisonment. Young, 553 F.3d at 1044-45.

On May 7, 2007, this Court sentenced Young to be imprisoned for a total term of 224 months. This term of imprisonment consists of 224 months on Count One, 120 months on each of Counts Six and Nineteen, and 96 months on each of Counts Thirteen, Fourteen, Fifteen and Eighteen, all to be served concurrently. The judgment of conviction was entered on May 15, 2007.

Young took a direct appeal from his judgment of conviction and sentence. On direct appeal Young raised an argument that the District Court erred in considering "acquitted conduct" - truckload of 2,318 pounds of marijuana - in calculating the quantity of marijuana involved in the Count One conspiracy that was attributable to Young and his guideline range.

On January 30, 2009, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of conviction and sentence, and dismissed the direct appeal. Young, 553 F.3d 1035. The Sixth Circuit rejected Young's argument that the truckload of 2,318 pounds of marijuana should not be used during sentencing to calculate the quantity of marijuana involved in the Count One conspiracy and his advisory guideline range. In Young, 553 F.3d at1050, the Sixth Circuit explained that after United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005), a federal sentencing court may consider acquitted conduct if it finds facts supporting that conduct by a preponderance of the evidence citing United States v.Mendez, 498 F.3d 423, 427 (6th Cir. 2007).1

The Sixth Circuit on Young's direct appeal also cited United States v. White, 551 F.3d 381, 382 (6th Cir. 2008) (en banc) for the proposition that post-Booker a federal district court may use acquitted conduct that it finds by a preponderance of the evidence to enhance a sentence where the...

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