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Douglas v. United States

February 26, 2004

RODNEY DOUGLAS, PETITIONER,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ricardo M. Urbina United States District Judge

Document No. 28

MEMORANDUM OPINION

DENYING THE PETITIONER'S POST-SENTENCE MOTION FOR RELIEF

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter comes before the court on the pro se petitioner's motion for relief from the sentence that he currently is serving. Specifically, he asks the court to grant him a downward departure from the applicable sentencing guideline range and to disregard the sentence enhancement triggered by his possession of firearms at the time of the underlying drug offense. The court denies the petitioner's request for downward departure because it lacks merit. As for the petitioner's challenge to the sentence enhancement, the court upholds the enhancement given that the facts of the underlying criminal case establish that the petitioner had firearms along with rounds of live ammunition present during the time of his drug offense. Consequently, the court denies the petitioner's motion.

II. BACKGROUND

On August 30, 2001, the pro se petitioner pled guilty to possession with intent to distribute a cocaine-base substance, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(B)(iii). Thereafter, on December 10, 2001, the court sentenced the petitioner to 63 months of imprisonment followed by four years of supervised release. J. & Commitment Order dated Dec. 11, 2001.

On January 15, 2002, the petitioner filed an incomplete motion to vacate the sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Because of his failure to state a sufficient basis for relief, the court granted dismissal without prejudice to allow the petitioner the option of re-filing his motion with complete information and supporting facts. Douglas v. United States, 245 F. Supp. 2d 46, 49 (D.D.C. 2003).

Rather than filing a corrected section 2255 motion, the petitioner brought the instant motion requesting a downward departure under 18 U.S.C. § 3582, based on his post-conviction drug-rehabilitation efforts, and challenging the application of U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1(b)(1)'s two-level sentencing enhancement for having firearms and ammunition present during his drug offense. The court now addresses that motion.

III. ANALYSIS *fn1

A. The Petitioner's Motion Does Not Contemplate Section 2255 Relief

At the outset, it is important to note that the court does not consider the petitioner's instant motion for relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 because he does not invoke that statute in challenging the court's imposed sentence. See Castro v. United States, 124 S.Ct. 786, 792 (2003) (holding that a federal court may not recharacterize a pro se litigant's motion as a "first" section 2255 motion unless it provides a proper warning of the preclusive effects that the recharacterization will have on a future section 2255 motion); United States v. Palmer, 296 F.3d 1135, 1146 (D.C. Cir. 2002) (concluding that a court "may recharacterize a post-conviction motion made under another rule or law as a section 2255 motion only if it first ensures that the movant is fully informed of section 2255's restriction on... successive 2255 motions... and [it] offers the movant an opportunity to withdraw his motion"). With this threshold matter behind it, the court can move on to address the petitioner's two claims.

B. The Petitioner's Request for a Post-Sentence Downward Departure

The petitioner asserts that his post-sentence drug-rehabilitation efforts entitle him to a downward departure. Pet'r Mot. at 7. He attributes his claimed success in overcoming his drug addiction to two courses that he completed while incarcerated after the imposition of his sentence. Id. at 5. In other words, the petitioner would have this court believe that his post-sentence rehabilitation entitles him ...


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