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Goodwin v. United States

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

August 25, 2017

Rodney Goodwin Petitioner - Appellant
v.
United States of America Respondent - Appellee

          Submitted: November 15, 2016

         Appeal from United States District Court for the District of North Dakota - Bismarck

          Before BENTON and SHEPHERD, Circuit Judges, and STRAND, District Judge. [1]

          BENTON, CIRCUIT JUDGE.

         A jury convicted Rodney A. Goodwin of attempted transportation of a minor with intent to engage in sexual activity under the Mann Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2423. After this court affirmed, Goodwin moved under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to vacate his conviction. The district court[2] denied the motion. Having jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, this court affirms.

         I.

         In June 2010, 45-year-old Goodwin began an online relationship with 16-year-old J.B. through a social-networking site. Many of their messages were sexual. After J.B. turned 17, they began planning for J.B to travel from her home in North Dakota to visit Goodwin in Texas, where they planned to have sex. On October 17, 2010, J.B. began to travel to Texas, but eventually returned home before leaving North Dakota. Any sexual act would have occurred in Texas.

         The single-count indictment charged Goodwin with attempted violation of the Mann Act: knowingly transporting anyone under 18 in interstate commerce "with intent that the individual engage in . . . any sexual activity for which any person can be charged with a criminal offense, shall be fined under this title and imprisoned not less than 10 years or for life." 18 U.S.C. § 2423(a). The "criminal offense" was North Dakota statute § 12.1-20-05(2): attempting to "engage in a sexual act" with a minor. A "minor" in North Dakota is a person under 18. N.D. Cent. Code § 14-10-01. North Dakota claims jurisdiction under § 29-03-01.1(3): "Any person who commits one or more of the following acts is liable to prosecution under the laws of this state . . . Soliciting, while outside this state, sexual contact with a person believed to be a minor who at the time of the solicitation is located in this state."

         A jury convicted Goodwin. The district court sentenced him to 121 months' imprisonment and 60 months' supervised release. Goodwin appealed, alleging insufficient evidence. This court affirmed. United States v. Goodwin, 719 F.3d 857, 865 (8th Cir. 2013).

         Goodwin moved to vacate his conviction under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, asserting a violation of the First Amendment and ineffective assistance of counsel. The district court denied Goodwin's motion, but certified the issues for appeal.

         II.

         A federal prisoner may seek relief if his "sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). A sentence is "imposed in violation of the Constitution" if the statute of conviction is unconstitutional, either facially or as applied. See Turchick v. United States, 561 F.2d 719, 721 (8th Cir. 1977).

         The Government did not assert procedural default or another affirmative defense, so those defenses normally are waived. See Trest v. Cain, 522 U.S. 87, 89 (1997) (citation omitted) ("[P]rocedural default is normally a defense that the State is obligated to raise and preserve if it is not to lose the right to assert the defense thereafter."); West v. United States, 994 F.2d 510, 512 (8th Cir. 1993) ("Because the government never raised procedural default, however, and the district court considered the merits of the claims, we will do likewise."). This ...


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