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Robinson v. United States

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

November 29, 2016

DARON D. ROBINSON, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          STEPHEN N. LIMBAUGH, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on a motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to vacate, set aside or correct sentence by Daron D. Robinson, a person in federal custody. On July 1, 2015, Robinson pled guilty before this Court to the offense of distribution of cocaine base, three counts and, on Septemeber 29, 2015, this Court sentenced Robinson to the Bureau of Prisons for a term of 120 months, the mandatory minimum sentence. Robinson's § 2255 motion is fully briefed and ripe for disposition.

         I. FACTS

         A. The Indictment

         On April 16, 2015, a Grand Jury in the Eastern District of Missouri, Southeastern Division, returned an Indictment against Daron D. Robinson, charging him with three felony counts of Distribution of a Controlled Substance, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, § 841(a)(1).[1] Doc. # 1. (Case No. 1:15-cr-00057-SNLJ-1.) Robinson was arrested and made his Initial Appearance before United States Magistrate Judge Abbie Crites-Leoni on May 5, 2015. The Federal Public Defender's office was appointed to represent Robinson, and Assistant Federal Defender Michael Skrien (“AFD Skrien”) subsequently filed an Entry of Appearance. Doc. ## 10-11. AFD Skrien appeared on behalf of Robinson at an arraignment on May 7, 2015, where Robinson entered a plea of not guilty to the charges. Doc. # 13. Magistrate Judge Crites-Leoni scheduled a hearing on pretrial motions for June 2, 2015. Doc. # 15.

         B. Pretrial Motions

         On June 8, 2015, AFD Skrien filed a waiver of Robinson's right to file pretrial motions. Doc. # 23. On June 17, 2015, Robinson appeared before Magistrate Judge Crites-Leoni and waived his right to file pretrial motions in open court. Doc. ## 26-27.

         C. Plea Agreement

         On July 1, 2015, Robinson appeared with AFD Skrien and plead guilty to all three counts in the Indictment. Doc. ## 28-29. Robinson and the government reached a plea agreement that was reduced to writing, setting out the parties' understandings as to the disposition of the case. Doc. # 29 (Plea Agreement). In the agreement, the parties acknowledged the possibility that Robinson may qualify as a Career Offender under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1. Pursuant to the agreement, the parties remained free to litigate whether or not Robinson qualified as a Career Offender. Plea Agreement, p. 6. Further, Robinson reserved the right to appeal any sentencing issues. Id. This court ordered a Presentence Report and scheduled a sentencing hearing for September 29, 2015.

         D. Presentence Investigation Report

         The United States Probation Office prepared the Presentence Report. Doc. ## 30, 32 (“PSR”). The PSR found that Robinson did indeed qualify as a Career Offender pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1(a). That section provides as follows:

A defendant is a career offender if (1) the defendant was at least eighteen years old at the time the defendant committed the instant offense of conviction; (2) the instant offense of conviction is a felony that is either a crime of violence or a controlled substance offense; and (3) the defendant has at least two prior felony convictions of either a crime of violence or a controlled substance offense.

         The term “controlled substance offense, ” in turn, is defined under the sentencing guidelines as:

an offense under federal or state law, punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, that prohibits the manufacture, import, export, distribution, or dispensing of a controlled substance (or a counterfeit substance) or the possession of a controlled substance (or a counterfeit substance) with intent to manufacture, import, export, distribute, or dispense.

U.S.S.G. § 4B1.2(b).

         The PSR identified two qualifying controlled substance offenses serving as Career Offender predicates: (1) a conviction from the Circuit Court of Scott County, Missouri, in Case No. 02CR745171-01, for two counts of sale of a controlled substance; and (2) a conviction from the Circuit Court of Scott County, Missouri, in Case No. 07SO-CR01176-01, for possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute. See PSR, ¶ ¶ 28, 35, and 38. Because Robinson qualified as a Career Offender, the adjusted offense level was determined to be 32. PSR, ¶ 28. After a three level reduction for acceptance of responsibility, the total offense level was found to be 29. PSR, ¶ 31. The PSR further determined that Robinson's criminal history category was VI. PSR, ¶ 48.[2]Based on a total offense level of 29 and a criminal history category of VI, the applicable guideline imprisonment range was determined to be 151-188 months. PSR, ¶ 75.

         Neither party filed objections to the PSR.

         E. Sentencing Hearing

         Prior to the sentencing hearing, AFD Skrien filed a sentencing memorandum on behalf of Robinson. See Doc. # 34. In the memorandum, AFD Skrien acknowledged that the advisory guideline imprisonment range of 151-188 months was correctly calculated. Although there was no dispute as to the guideline range, AFD Skrien cited a number of factors which, in his view, supported a sentence below the bottom end of the range. On September 29, 2015, the parties appeared before this Court for a sentencing hearing. Robinson was sentenced to concurrent terms of imprisonment of 120 months on each of the three counts, followed by three years of supervised release. Doc. ## 36-38. The sentence imposed by this Court was below the bottom end of the applicable guideline range.

         F. Appeal

         Robinson did not appeal his conviction or sentence.

         G. Petition for Post-Conviction Relief Pursuant to § 2255

         On August 31, 2016, Robinson filed a motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, claiming that the Career Offender enhancement was improperly ...


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