Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Grimes

United States District Court, D. Kansas

August 30, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
CHRISTOPHER LEE GRIMES, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          HOLLY L. TEETER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         In 2005, Defendant pleaded guilty under a Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(c)(1)(C) plea agreement to five counts of felon in possession of a firearm and one count of possessing a firearm silencer. Now, nearly fourteen years later, he moves the Court to vacate or amend his sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Doc. 82.[1] He argues his counsel was ineffective for recommending he plead guilty to the felon-in-possession charges because the underlying statutory section exceeds Congress’s Commerce Clause powers. He also argues the Government violated the plea agreement when it failed to object to the use of the murder cross-reference in calculating the guideline range. Because his motion is untimely (and is otherwise meritless), the Court dismisses Defendant’s motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In 2005, Defendant pleaded guilty pursuant to a Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(c)(1)(C) plea agreement to five counts of felon in possession of a firearm under 18 U.S.C. §§ 2, 922(g), and 924(a)(2), and to one count of possession of a firearm with a silencer under 26 U.S.C. § 5861(d). Doc. 73 at 2-4. Four of the felon-in-possession counts stemmed from firearms Defendant pawned. The two remaining counts involved a firearm that Defendant equipped with a homemade silencer and then used to kill Keith Riffel.

         At the change of plea hearing, the parties presented the Rule 11(c)(1)(C) plea agreement, which proposed a sentence of 480 months’ imprisonment. Defendant also submitted a petition to plead guilty, and a letter from the Daryl E. Hawkins, Assistant County Attorney for Dickinson County, Kansas, that stated that “[t]his office will not file or re-file any charges against [Defendant] related to the murder of Keith Riffel if [Defendant] enters his guilty plea to the federal weapons charges under your plea agreement and the court approves and accepts such plea and the forty year sentence and imposes the same.” Doc. 73 at 11.

         The Court sentenced Defendant in October 2005. The presentence investigation report (“PSIR”) calculated a base offense level of forty-three by using a cross-reference under United States Sentencing Guidelines § 2A1.1 because of Mr. Riffel’s homicide. After adjustments, Defendant’s total offense level was forty-two and his criminal history category was IV, which produced an applicable sentencing range under the guidelines of 360 months to life. The Court ultimately accepted the plea agreement and imposed the proposed 480-month sentence. Doc. 75 at 3.

         Defendant did not file a direct appeal. Instead, he filed the instant motion in April 2019, arguing (1) his counsel was ineffective for recommending he plead guilty to the § 922(g) charges because this statute exceeds Congress’s Commerce Clause powers, and (2) the Government breached the plea agreement by not objecting to the murder cross-reference used in the PSIR for establishing the base offense level.[2] He seeks reversal of his convictions and remand for a new trial.

         II. ANALYSIS

         The Government opposes Defendant’s motion as untimely and meritless. The Court agrees.

         A. Defendant’s § 2255 motion is time barred.

         Typically, a defendant has one year from the date the judgment becomes final to file a § 2255 motion. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f)(1). Defendant’s judgment became final ten business days after it was entered on October 17, 2005. Fed. R. App. P. 4(b)(1)(A)(i) (2005); Fed. R. App. P. 26(a)(2) (2005). Therefore, Defendant’s motion far exceeds this deadline.

         Nevertheless, Defendant argues his motion is timely under § 2255(f)(4). This section states that a motion is timely if filed within one year of “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)(4). Defendant contends that he only recently discovered the “novel” issues at hand after acquiring the assistance of a “paralegal.”

         But Defendant misunderstands the application of this statutory section. “Section 2255(f)(4) speaks to discovery of facts supporting a claim, not a failure to appreciate the legal significance of those facts.” United States v. Collins, 364 F. App’x 496, 498 (10th Cir. 2010) (citing Marsh v. Soares, 223 F.3d 1217, 1220 (10th Cir. 2000)). In this case, Defendant knew back in 2005 that he pleaded guilty to multiple felon-in-possession charges under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g). See, e.g., Doc. 73 at 1-4 and 12-15. And he also knew the terms of his plea agreement and knew that the PSIR used the murder cross-reference in calculating his base offense level and resulting guideline range. Id. at 6. (“I have received a copy of the final [PSIR], reviewed it with my counsel, and have no objections.”). Therefore, Defendant cannot credibly claim discovery of new evidence. Rather, his arguments concern a new appreciation of the legal significance of these known facts about his plea, plea agreement, and sentence.

         Defendant also argues the one-year limitation should be equitably tolled. Equitable tolling requires extraordinary circumstances and diligence. Lawrence v. Florida, 549 U.S. 327, 335 (2007). “[A] lack of awareness of the law or lack of assistance in collateral review does not constitute the type of extraordinary circumstances warranting equitable tolling.” Collins, 364 F. App’x at 498 (finding no extraordinary circumstances when a defendant only learned of his ineffective assistance of counsel claim when he hired new counsel) (citing Yang v. Archuleta, 525 F.3d 925, 929-30 (10th Cir. 2008)). Defendant contends he trusted his attorney for nearly fourteen years until he received assistance from an inmate with legal training on his now-abandoned Dimaya claim. See supra footnote 2. He explains that while evaluating that claim, the inmate with legal ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.