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United States v. Duckett

United States District Court, District of Columbia

August 1, 2016

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
PHILLIP ERIC ALONZO DUCKETT, Defendant. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
PHILLIP ERIC ALONZO DUCKETT, Defendant. Civil Action Nos. 13-1424 (PLF), 13-1440 (PLF)

          PHILLIP ERIC ALONZO DUCKETT, Defendant, Pro Se.

          USA, Plaintiff, represented by Sherri Lee Berthrong, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          PAUL L. FRIEDMAN, District Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on three related motions filed by defendant Phillip Eric Alonzo Ducket: two motions to vacate his sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, one filed in Criminal No. 66-1124 and one in Criminal No. 67-0880, and one motion to correct an ambiguous sentence pursuant to Rule 35(a) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure filed in Criminal No. 67-0880. The Court will deny all three motions.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On August 15, 1967, defendant Phillip Eric Alonzo Duckett was sentenced to one to three years' imprisonment for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle in an unrelated case, Criminal No. 66-0159. See Exhibit A to the Government's Motion to Dismiss at 39-41, United States v. Duckett, Criminal No. 66-1124 [Dkt. No. 7-2]. On December 15, 1967, defendant was sentenced in Criminal No. 66-1124 to three to nine years' imprisonment for carnal knowledge and one to three years' imprisonment for housebreaking, the counts "to run concurrently but consecutively with" the sentence imposed in Criminal No. 66-0159. Exhibit B to the Government's Motion to Dismiss at 8, United States v. Duckett, Criminal No. 66-1124 [Dkt. No. 7-3]. And, finally, on January 24, 1969, defendant was sentenced in Criminal No. 67-0880 to ten to thirty years' imprisonment for rape, "with said sentence to run consecutively with the [one year] to [three year] sentence imposed in [Criminal No. 66-0159]; the [three year] to [nine year] sentence imposed in [Criminal No. 66-1124]...." Exhibit C to the Government's Motion to Dismiss at 6, United States v. Duckett, Criminal No. 66-1124 [Dkt. No. 7-4].

         The court of appeals affirmed defendant's conviction in Criminal No. 66-1124 on March 12, 1969. Duckett v. United States, 410 F.2d 1004 (D.C. Cir. 1969). His petition for rehearing was denied on May 28, 1969 and he did not file a petition for a writ of certiorari.

         The court of appeals similarly affirmed defendant's conviction in Criminal No. 67-0880 on February 17, 1970. See Exhibit D to the Government's Motion to Dismiss at 6, United States v. Duckett, Criminal No. 66-1124 [Dkt. No. 7-5]. His petition for a writ of certiorari was denied on May 18, 1970. Duckett v. United States, 398 U.S. 912 (1970).

         II. DISCUSSION

         In all three motions, defendant argues that the sentencing court, in Criminal Case No. 67-0880, imposed an ambiguous and illegal sentence and that his appointed counsel rendered ineffective assistance of counsel in failing to protect his Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights. Pro se complaints are held to "less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, " Greenhill v. Spelling, 482 F.3d 569, 572 (D.C. Cir. 2007) (citing Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972)), and the Court has evaluated defendant's motions in that light. The Court agrees with the government, however, and concludes that defendant's Section 2255 motions are untimely and that his Rule 35(a) motion lacks merit.

          A. The Section 2255 Motions

         28 U.S.C. § 2255 allows a prisoner in custody to "move the court which imposed the sentence to vacate, set aside, or correct the sentence." But the Court must first determine whether the motion is timely, because the statute imposes a one-year statute of limitations on such motions. See United States v. Cicero, 214 F.3d 199, 202 (D.C. Cir. 2000). Untimely motions, absent equitable tolling, are time-barred and must be dismissed. See id. at 205. The one-year limitations period runs from the latest of:

(1) the date on which the judgment of conviction becomes final;
(2) the date on which the impediment to making a motion created by governmental action in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States is removed, if the movant was prevented from ...

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