United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Oxford Division
SHARION AYCOCK U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the court on the motion of Antonio
English to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence under
28 U.S.C. § 2255. The government has responded to the
motion; Mr. English has replied, and the matter is ripe for
resolution. For the reasons set forth below, the instant
motion to vacate, set aside, or correct sentence will be
Corpus Relief Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255
writ of habeas corpus, a challenge to the legal
authority under which a person may be detained, is ancient.
Duker, The English Origins of the Writ of Habeas Corpus: A
Peculiar Path to Fame, 53 N.Y.U.L.Rev. 983 (1978); Glass,
Historical Aspects of Habeas Corpus, 9 St. John's L.Rev.
55 (1934). It is “perhaps the most important writ known
to the constitutional law of England, ” Secretary
of State for Home Affairs v. O'Brien, A.C. 603, 609
(1923), and it is equally significant in the United States.
Article I, § 9, of the Constitution ensures that the
right of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be
suspended, except when, in the case of rebellion or invasion,
public safety may require it. Habeas Corpus, 20 Fed.
Prac. & Proc. Deskbook § 56. Its use by the federal
courts was authorized in Section14 of the Judiciary Act of
1789. Habeas corpus principles developed over time
in both English and American common law have since been
statutory provisions on habeas corpus appear as
sections 2241 to 2255 of the
1948 Judicial Code. The recodification of that year set out
important procedural limitations and additional procedural
changes were added in 1966. The scope of the writ, insofar as
the statutory language is concerned, remained essentially the
same, however, until 1996, when Congress enacted the
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, placing severe
restrictions on the issuance of the writ for state prisoners
and setting out special, new habeas corpus
procedures for capital cases. The changes made by the 1996
legislation are the end product of decades of debate about
2255 of the United States Code permits an inmate serving a
sentence after conviction of a federal crime “to move
the court which imposed the sentence to vacate, set aside or
correct the sentence.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). As
with the writ of habeas corpus, see 28
U.S.C. §§ 2241, 2254, a § 2255 motion sets
forth only four bases on which a motion may be made: (1) the
sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws
of the United States; (2) the court was without jurisdiction
to impose the sentence; (3) the sentence exceeds the
statutory maximum sentence; or (4) the sentence is
“otherwise subject to collateral attack.” 28
U.S.C. § 2255(a). Thus, a prisoner must claim either a
constitutional violation or want of subject matter
jurisdiction to invoke 28 U.S.C. § 2255. In the absence
of constitutional or jurisdictional defects, a federal
prisoner may invoke § 2255 only if the error constitutes
“a fundamental defect which inherently results in a
complete miscarriage of justice.” United States v.
Addonizio, 442 U.S. 178, 185 (1979).
district court must first conduct a preliminary review of a
section 2255 motion, and “[i]f it plainly appears from
the motion, any attached exhibits, and the record of the
prior proceeding that the moving party is not entitled to
relief, the judge must dismiss the motion.” Rules
Governing Section 2255 Proceedings, Rule 4(b). If the motion
raises a non-frivolous claim to relief, the court must order
the Government to file a response or to take other
appropriate action. Id. The judge may then require
the parties to expand the record as necessary and, if good
cause is shown, authorize limited discovery. Rules
Governing Section 2255 Proceedings, Rules 6-7.
reviewing the government's answer, any transcripts and
records of prior proceedings, and any supplementary materials
submitted by the parties, the court must decide whether an
evidentiary hearing is warranted. Rules Governing Section
2255 Proceedings, Rule 8. Under the statute, an
evidentiary hearing must be held unless “the motion and
the files and records of the case conclusively show that the
prisoner is entitled to no relief.” 28 U.S.C. §
2255(b). However, the court need not hold an evidentiary
hearing if the prisoner fails to produce “independent
indicia of the likely merit of [his] allegations.”
United States v. Edwards, 442 F.3d 258, 264
(5th Cir. 2006) (quoting United States v.
Cervantes, 132 F.3d 1106, 1110 (5th Cir.
the petitioner bears the burden of establishing his claims of
error by a preponderance of the evidence. See Wright v.
United States, 624 F.2d 557, 558 (5th Cir.
1980). For certain “structural” errors, relief
follows automatically once the error is proved. See
Burgess v. Dretke, 350 F.3d 461, 472 (5th
Cir. 2003). For other errors at the trial court level, the
court may grant relief only if the error “had
substantial and injurious effect or influence” in
determining the outcome of the case. Brecht v.
Abrahmson, 507 U.S. 619, 637 (1993); see also United
States v. Chavez, 193 F.3d 375, 379 (5th Cir.
1999) (applying Brecht's harmless error standard
in a § 2255 proceeding). If the court finds that the
prisoner is entitled to relief, it “shall vacate and
set the judgment aside and shall discharge the prisoner or
resentence him or grant a new trial or correct the sentence
as may appear appropriate.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(b).
and Procedural Posture
English pled guilty to Conspiracy to Steal Firearms in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371 (Count One) and being a
Felon in Possession of a Firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 922(g)(1) (Count Seven). On September 12, 2011,
English was sentenced to 60 months of incarceration on ...