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Edwards v. United States

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division

July 28, 2014

KEVIN LAMAR EDWARDS, Movant,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent. Crim. No. 4:11-099-DGK.

ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR POSTCONVICTION RELIEF AND CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY

GREG KAYS, Chief District Judge.

This case arises out of Movant Kevin Lamar Edwards' ("Movant" or "Edwards") conviction after entering a guilty plea to conspiracy to distribute 28 grams or more of cocaine base, a violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(A), and 846. Pending before the Court is Movant's pro se "Motion Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence By a Person in Federal Custody" (Doc. 1). Finding Movant's arguments are without merit and an evidentiary hearing is unnecessary, the Court denies the motion and declines to issue a certificate of appealability.

Background and Procedural History

Between March 30, 2011, and April 13, 2011, officers with the Jackson County, Missouri, Drug Interdiction Unit purchased cocaine base from Movant three times in amounts ranging from 3.4 grams to 17.3 grams (Doc. 1-1 at 2-5). During one of these transactions, Movant brought a sawed-off shotgun with him (Doc. 1-1 at 3).

On April 20, 2011, a grand jury returned a four-count indictment respectively charging Edwards with: (1) conspiracy to distribute 280 grams or more of cocaine base; (2) distribution of some quantity of cocaine base; (3) possessing with intent to distribute some quantity of cocaine base; and (4) using a firearm during a drug trafficking crime. These charges carried a statutory range of ten years' to life imprisonment on Count One; up to twenty years' imprisonment on Counts Two and Three; and not less than five years on Count Four, which was required to be imposed consecutively to any other sentence. Additionally, because Edwards had previously been convicted of a felony drug crime, the Government could have used this prior conviction to enhance his sentence on Count One to a mandatory minimum of twenty years' imprisonment. Thus, had he been found guilty on Counts One and Four, he faced an aggregate statutory mandatory minimum sentence of not less than twenty-five years' imprisonment.

Edwards, through counsel, subsequently negotiated a plea agreement that minimized his exposure. Under the agreement, Edwards plead guilty to a lesser-included offense on Count One, conspiracy to distribute 28 grams or more of cocaine base. As part of the bargain, the Government agreed not to file the sentencing enhancement for Edwards' prior felony drug conviction and to dismiss Count Four. As a result, Edwards' statutory mandatory minimum sentence was reduced from twenty-five years' imprisonment to five years' imprisonment.

On December 13, 2011, Edwards pled guilty in open court pursuant to the plea agreement. The plea agreement contained a detailed factual basis to support the guilty pleas and stated the statutory penalties for the offenses and the sentencing procedures under which the Court would sentence him. Pursuant to the agreement, Edwards also waived his right to a jury trial and his right to appeal or collaterally attack his conviction or sentence. The plea agreement was signed by Edwards and executed on December 13, 2011.

Consistent with the sentencing procedures described in the plea agreement, a detailed presentence investigation report ("PSR") was issued on April 16, 2012. The PSR described the offense conduct, determined the total quantity of crack cocaine for which Edwards was responsible was 49.05 grams, and deemed him to be a career offender under United States Sentencing Commission guideline § 4B1.1. The prior convictions used to designate Edwards as a career offender were for: (1) murder in the second degree, two counts of armed criminal action, and assault in the first degree (Jackson County Circuit Court Case No. CR93-1820); and (2) distribution of a controlled substance (Jackson County Circuit Court Case No. 0716-CR01230). This resulted in a base offense level of 34. Edwards, however, received a three-level reduction for acceptance of responsibility, yielding a total offense level of 31. Although Edwards was assessed a total of five criminal history points, he fell in Criminal History Category VI based on his status as a career offender.

Edwards did not file any objections to the PSR.

Consistent with the sentencing guidelines, on August 29, 2012, the Court sentenced Edwards to 204 months' imprisonment. Edwards did not appeal his sentence. On August 26, 2013, Edwards timely filed the pending motion.

DISCUSSION

In his motion, Movant argues the Court should vacate his sentence because: (1) the Court imposed a sentence in violation of the law; (2) his attorney was ineffective at the sentencing stage because he did not object to his career offender status; (3) the Court erred by aggregating the amount of drugs sold to trigger the mandatory minimum sentence; and (4) his attorney was ineffective for not objecting to the Court aggregating the drug amounts. In his memorandum of law, however, Edwards does not argue, or even mention, any of these claims. Instead, he attempts to present a new claim, apparently based on the Supreme Court's decision in Alleyne v. United States, 570 U.S. __, 133 S.Ct. 2151 (2013) (holding any fact that increases the mandatory minimum sentence for a crime is an element of the crime that must be submitted to the jury, not a sentencing factor), by copying large sections of the Alleyne opinion into his memo. Movant does not, however, explain how Alleyne's holding applies to his case.

I. Movant's claims are legally frivolous.

As a threshold matter, Edwards does not provide any argument or reasoning for why the Court should grant his motion. Consequently, his claims are "inadequate on their face, " and the motion must be denied. See Anjulo-Lopez v. United States, 541 F.3d 814, 817 (8th Cir. 2008). Even if Edwards' briefs had provided more ...


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