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Harris v. United States

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division

August 31, 2016

JIM R. HARRIS, Movant,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM

          CAROL E. JACKSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on the second amended motion of Jim R. Harris to vacate, set aside, or correct sentence, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. The United States has filed a response in opposition. Also before the Court is Harris's motion to amend the motion to vacate by asserting additional claims.

         I. Background

         On December 9, 2011, Harris pled guilty to interfering with commerce by threat or violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951 (Count I); possessing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) (Count II); and possessing ammunition as a convicted felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) (Count III). He was sentenced on February 21, 2012 to a 300-month term of imprisonment, consisting of concurrent terms of 180 months for each of Counts I and III and a consecutive 120 months for Count II. The judgment and sentence were affirmed on appeal. United States v. Harris, 499 Fed.Appx. 631 (8th Cir. March 4, 2013).

         II. Discussion

         In his motion to vacate, Harris asserts the following grounds for relief: (1) breach of and failure to disclose plea agreement; (2) improper designation as an armed career criminal; ineffective assistance of trial counsel; and (4) insufficiency of the indictment and deficient evidence. In the motion to amend, Harris asserts seeks leave to assert the following additional grounds for relief: (5) ineffective assistance of counsel on appeal; (6) involuntariness of guilty plea; and (7) entrapment and coercion.

         The motion to amend is premised on Harris's assumption that the additional claims are untimely. A one-year period of limitation applies to motions for relief under § 2255. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f). The one-year period begins to run---as relevant here---from the date on which the judgment of conviction became final. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f)(1). Harris's conviction became “final” ninety days after the court of appeals decided his direct appeal. See United States v. Sanchez-Gonzalez, 643 F.3d 626, 629 (8th Cir. 2011) (criminal defendant's conviction does not become final for purposes of § 2255 motion until ninety days after appellate court issues ruling on direct appeal) [citing United States v. Hernandez, 436 F.3d 851, 856 (8th Cir. 2006)]. The Eighth Circuit issued its decision in Harris's case on March 4, 2013. Harris's conviction did not become final until ninety days later, or June 2, 2013. Because both the original motion and the motion to amend were filed before June 2, 2014, Harris does not need leave of court to assert the additional claims. Therefore, the Court will consider and address the additional claims.

         Ground One

         In his first ground for relief, Harris claims that the plea agreement was not disclosed to him and that he entered a guilty plea “without complete understanding of the impact of the P.S.I. [pre-sentencing report].” He also claims that the plea agreement was initially accepted by the court but was later rejected.

         On December 9, 2011, Harris appeared before a district judge and gave the following answers under oath:

Q: [Judge] Now the lawyers have given me a written Plea Agreement that consists of 18 pages, and I see that you and both lawyers have signed it on page 18, is that right?
A: [Harris] Yes, sir.
Q: Have you read the agreement?
A: Yes.
Q: Have you gone over it in detail with your ...

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