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Winfield v. United States Probation & Pretrial Services

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Western Division

October 25, 2018

PAUL WINFIELD PETITIONER
v.
UNITED STATES PROBATION & PRETRIAL SERVICES and CHRIS COUNTS RESPONDENTS

          ORDER ACCEPTING MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S RECOMMENDATION AND DISMISSING CASE WITH PREJUDICE, ETC.

          KEITH STARRETT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This cause is before the Court on Petition for writ of habeas corpus filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 [1] by Paul Winfield, the Report and Recommendation [12] of Magistrate Judge Micharl T. Parker, Petitioner's Objections [13] to Report and Recommendation, Response in Opposition [14] to Petitioner's Objection, and the records and pleadings herein and the Court does hereby find as follows to wit:

         I. BACKGROUND

         Petitioner Paul Winfield is the former mayor of Vicksburg, Mississippi. On March 19, 2013, Petitioner, while serving as mayor, was indicted for theft or bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 666(a)(1)(B).[1] Following a guilty plea, Petitioner was convicted of this crime in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi on or about November 19, 2013. See United States v. Winfield, 5:13-cv-5- DCB-FKB (S.D. Miss 2013). Petitioner was sentenced to a 25-month term of imprisonment and a three-year term of supervised release. Id. Petitioner completed his term of imprisonment.

         On January 16, 2018, Petitioner, while serving his term of supervised release, filed the instant Petition [1], arguing that his conviction is no longer valid in light of the Supreme Court's holding in McDonnell v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 2355 (2016). On March 21, 2018, Respondent filed a Response [9], arguing that this Court does not have jurisdiction to consider this § 2241 habeas petition.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         When a party objects to a Report and Recommendation this Court is required to “make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). See also Longmire v. Gust, 921 F.2d 620, 623 (5th Cir. 1991) (Party is “entitled to a de novo review by an Article III Judge as to those issues to which an objection is made.”) Such review means that this Court will examine the entire record and will make an independent assessment of the law. The Court is not required, however, to reiterate the findings and conclusions of the Magistrate Judge. Koetting v. Thompson, 995 F.2d 37, 40 (5th Cir. 1993) nor need it consider objections that are frivolous, conclusive or general in nature. Battle v. United States Parole Commission, 834 F.2d 419, 421 (5th Cir. 1997). No. factual objection is raised when a petitioner merely reurges arguments contained in the original petition. Edmond v. Collins, 8 F.3d 290, 293 (5th Cir. 1993).

         III. PETITIONER'S OBJECTIONS AND ANALYSIS

         The Petitioner lodges three objections to the Report and Recommendation. They are as follows:

1. That the wrong standard of review was employed in determining whether a Supreme Court case was retroactively applicable and that Petitioner was required to prove that he was convicted of a non-existent offense.
2. That the Report and Recommendation does not contain any factual findings or factual analysis; and
3. That the Report and Recommendation is an overly restricted reading of the Supreme Court's analogous precedent.

         Winfield has not established that he may have been convicted of a non-existent offense. McDonnell v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 2355 (2016) is not applicable. This case addressed an entirely different statute. Petitioner made no effort to establish that he was legally or factually innocent and the Court has reviewed the Presentence Report that was filed in the underlying criminal case, 5:13-cr-5-DCB-FKB. Petitioner made no objections to the facts set forth in the Presentence Report which was adopted by the Court. The factual basis set forth in the Presentence Report clearly sets forth violations of the law. There was also a factual basis stated by the prosecutor at the guilty plea. The Court does not have access to the factual basis but suffice to say Judge Bramlette found that the Government had established a factual basis for the crime and the factual basis was agreed to by the Petitioner. Petitioner has the burden to establish actual innocence which has has failed to do and the Court finds that his first objection is WITHOUT MERIT.

         The second objection is that the Report and Recommendation does not contain any factual findings which support the conclusion that Mr. Winfield failed to meet his burden to obtain habeas relief. The authority cited by Petitioner was Santillana v. Upton, 846 F.3d 779, 784 (5th Cir. 2017). In this case the facts were agreed to by the Petitioner as set forth in the Presentence Report, the factual basis agreed to by Petitioner and the findings of Judge Bramlette. There is no issue for this Court to make factual findings on. Everything was admitted to by the Petitioner and adopted by the Court. It is also telling that the Petitioner made very little effort to point any facts out to the Court and makes only bald assertions ...


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