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United States v. Sanchez

United States District Court, D. Rhode Island

January 26, 2017

UNITED STATES
v.
JUAN ESPEJO SANCHEZ

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Mary M. Lisi Senior, United States District Judge.

         Before the Court is a Motion for Minimal Role Adjustment and Sentence Reduction Based on United States v. Quintero-Leyva and Pursuant to Amendment 794 and 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (Doc. #22) (“Motion for Minimal Role Adjustment”) filed by Petitioner Juan Espejo Sanchez (“Espejo Sanchez”).[1] The Government filed an objection (Doc. #25) (“Objection”) and memorandum in support thereof (Doc. #25-1) (“Gov't Mem.”), to which Espejo Sanchez filed an initial response (Doc. #26) (“First Response to Objection”) and a second response (Doc. #27) (“Second Response to Objection”). No hearing is necessary.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND TRAVEL

         On June 9, 2014, Espejo Sanchez pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute fifty grams or more of methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(B), and 846. He was sentenced to 72 months incarceration, followed by supervised release for ten years. Judgment entered on June 16, 2014. Pursuant to the Plea Agreement (Doc. #2), Espejo Sanchez did not file a direct appeal.

         Espejo Sanchez subsequently filed a Motion to Set Aside and Vacate Sentence Pursuant to 2255 or in the Alternative Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure 60(b)(1)-(6) (Doc. #8) (“Motion to Vacate”) and supplement thereto (Doc. #13) (“Supplemental Motion to Vacate”). The Motion to Vacate, as supplemented, was denied by the Court on January 24, 2017.

         Approximately two years after filing the Motion to Vacate, Espejo Sanchez filed the instant Motion for Minimal Role Adjustment.[2]

         DISCUSSION

         Espejo Sanchez “asserts eligibility under §3B1.2's amendment 794 as being substantially less culpable than the average participant in the criminal activity.” Motion for Minimal Role Adjustment at 7. The Government objects on the basis that: (1) the Motion for Minimal Role Adjustment is untimely, Gov't Mem. at 2; (2) the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit “has indicated that § 2255 is not an appropriate vehicle for reopening a sentence in every circumstance where a defendant merely claims that his guidelines sentencing range should have been calculated differently, ” id. (citing Cuevas v. United States, 778 F.3d 267, 276 (1st Cir. 2015)); and (3) even if timely and cognizable, the claim fails on the merits, id. at 3. The Court need not address the Government's second and third arguments, as the first is dispositive of the matter.

         I. Section 2255 and AEDPA

         Generally, the grounds justifying relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 are limited. A court may grant such relief only if it finds a lack of jurisdiction, a constitutional error, or a fundamental error of law. See United States v. Addonizio, 442 U.S. 178, 185 (1979)(“[A]n error of law does not provide a basis for collateral attack unless the claimed error constituted a fundamental defect which inherently results in a complete miscarriage of justice.”)(internal quotation marks omitted).

         Section 2255 states that:

(a) A prisoner in custody under sentence of a court established by Act of Congress claiming the right to be released upon the ground that the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, or that the court was without jurisdiction to impose such sentence, or that the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law, or is otherwise subject to collateral attack, may move the court which imposed the sentence to vacate, set aside or correct the sentence.

28 U.S.C. § 2255(a).

         In 1996, Congress enacted the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (“AEDPA”), which “imposed significant new constraints on proceedings under section 2255.” Trenkler v. United States, 536 F.3d 85, 96 (1st Cir. 2008)(footnote omitted). “Some of these constraints were temporal; for example, AEDPA established a one-year statute of limitations for filing a section 2255 petition.” Id. (citing 28 U.S.C. ยง 2255(f)). Others were numerical, requiring a ...


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