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United States v. Wilson

United States District Court, District of Columbia

June 17, 2013

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
RALPH T. WILSON, Defendant

For UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (1:96-cr-00319), Plaintiff: Carolyn K. Kolben, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Washington, DC; Janice Traver, Janice Traver, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Office of International Affairs, Criminal Division, Washington, DC; Robert S. Mueller, III, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Washington, DC.

Page 91

MEMORANDUM OPINION

COLLEEN KOLLAR-KOTELLY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

In 1997, a jury convicted Defendant Ralph T. Wilson of conspiracy to kill a witness, killing a witness with intent to prevent him from testifying, retaliating against a witness, and first degree murder while armed. The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed the Defendant's convictions, and this Court denied Defendant Wilson's initial motion to vacate his conviction in August 2005. Presently before the Court is the Defendant's [297] Motion to Obtain Relief from a Final Judgment Under Federal Rule [of] Civil Procedure Rule 60(b), [298] Motion for Disclosure; and [322] Motion for Leave of the Court to Supplement Rule 60(b) Motion Pursuant to Civil Rules [sic] of Procedure 15(a). In essence, the Defendant argues that intervening changes in law as articulated by the Supreme Court warrant vacating the Defendant's conviction. Upon consideration of the pleadings, [1] the relevant legal authorities, and the record as a whole, the Court finds it lacks jurisdiction to entertain the Defendant's motion absent certification from the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Accordingly, the Defendant's Rule 60(b) motion is DENIED and the Defendant's motion for disclosure and motion for leave to supplement his Rule 60(b) motion are DENIED AS MOOT.

I. BACKGROUND

In 1996, Defendant Ralph Wilson's brother, James Wilson, was charged with robbing a United States Post Office. United States v. Wilson, 160 F.3d 732, 736, 333 U.S.App. D.C. 103 (D.C. Cir. 1998). Upon learning that an individual named Leroy Copeland was scheduled to testify against James Wilson at trial, Defendant Ralph Wilson and his

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brother Louis Wilson set out to locate Copeland. Id. After learning of information as to Copeland's whereabouts, on the evening of March 25, 1996, Louis Wilson murdered Copeland by shooting him repeatedly. Id. A jury convicted Defendant Ralph Wilson, Louis Wilson, and Marcellus Judd of conspiracy to kill a witness (in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371), killing a witness with intent to prevent him from testifying (in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1512(a)(1)(A)), retaliating against a witness (in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1513(a)(1)(B), (2)), and first degree murder while armed (in violation of D.C. Code § § 22-201, 22-3202) . Id. Louis Wilson was also convicted of two counts of using a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence and one count of possession of a firearm during a crime of violence. Id. The D.C. Circuit vacated one of Louis Wilson's convictions for using a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence and reversed each of Marcellus Judd's convictions, but affirmed Defendant Ralph Wilson's convictions. Id.

The Defendant moved to vacate his conviction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 on the grounds that his counsel was ineffective, the Government failed to timely disclose exculpatory information before trial, and that the introduction of certain statements at trial violated his Confrontation Clause rights under the Sixth Amendment. The Court denied the Defendant's motion to vacate. See generally 8/30/2005 Mem. Op. & Order, ECF Nos. [276, 277]. Several years later, the Defendant filed the present Rule 60(b) motion seeking relief from the final judgment denying his section 2255 motion, arguing that the Supreme Court's subsequent decision in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, 557 U.S. 305, 129 S.Ct. 2527, 174 L.Ed.2d 314 (2009), requires the Court to vacate the Defendant's conviction based on the Confrontation Clause issues identified in his section 2255 motion. The Defendant subsequently sought to supplement his Rule 60(b) motion to include the claim that he was prosecuted under " under an incorrect interpretation of 18 U.S.C. § 1512" in light of the Supreme Court's decisions in Arthur Andersen LLP v. United States, 544 U.S. 696, 125 S.Ct. 2129, 161 L.Ed.2d 1008 (2005), and Fowler v. United States, 131 S.Ct. 2045, 179 L.Ed.2d 1099 (2011). Def.'s Mot. to Suppl. at 2. The Government opposes the Defendant's motions on the grounds that they are second or successive petitions under section 2255, thus the Defendant is required to obtain a certification from the D.C. Circuit before this Court has jurisdiction to consider the Defendant's motions. Furthermore, the Government contends that even if the Defendant's motions are procedurally proper, they fail on the merits. The Court agrees that it lacks jurisdiction to entertain the Defendant's Rule 60(b) motion, and therefore does not reach the merits of the Defendant's request to vacate his conviction or his motion to supplement his claims for relief.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Motions to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct a Sentence

Section 2255 provides that

A prisoner in custody under sentence of a court established by Act of Congress claiming the right to be released upon the ground that the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, or that the court was without jurisdiction to impose such sentence, or that the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law, or is otherwise subject to collateral ...

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