United States District Court, District of Columbia
Kessler, United States District Judge
is Michael Monzel, an inmate incarcerated in a federal prison
pursuant to his 2010 guilty plea to child pornography
charges. See Judgment as to Michael M. Monzel
("Judgment") [Dkt. No. 26]. Mr. Monzel now seeks to
vacate that conviction under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Petition
for Writ of Habeas Corpus ("Petition") [Dkt. No.
116]. Mr. Monzel argues that his conviction should be vacated
because: (1) this Court was without authority to enter the
conviction; and (2) his attorney provided him with
ineffective assistance, thereby violating his right to
counsel guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment. See generally
id. Mr. Monzel has also requested that the court hold an
emergency hearing on his Petition, Expedited Mot. for an
Emergency Hearing ("Motion for Emergency Hearing")
[Dkt. No. 124], and he has filed a number of other
miscellaneous motions related to his Petition, described in
greater detail below. The Government opposes Mr. Monzel's
Motion for Emergency Hearing. Opposition [Dkt. No. 127].
After consideration of the Petition, the Motion for Emergency
Hearing, the Opposition, and the Reply[Dkt. No. 130],
and the entire record herein, Mr. Monzel's Petition,
Motion for Emergency Hearing, and other related,
miscellaneous motions will be denied.
Monzel was indicted on one count of distribution of child
pornography in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(2) on
September 24, 2009. [Dkt. No. 1]. At a hearing held on
October 21, 2009, Magistrate Judge Robinson appointed David
Bos, an attorney with the Federal Public Defender for the
District of Columbia, as Mr. Monzel's counsel. Then on
December, 8, 2010, a superseding information was filed,
charging Mr. Monzel with one count of possessing material
constituting or containing child pornography in violation of
18 U.S.C. 2252(a)(4)(B) in addition to the distribution
charge contained in the original indictment. [Dkt. No. 8]. On
December 10, 2009, the Court held a plea hearing at which Mr.
Monzel pled guilty to both the distribution of child
pornography charge and the possession of child pornography
25, 2010, the Court sentenced Mr. Monzel to 120 months
incarceration, to be followed by 120 months of supervised
release. Judgment at 3-4. After additional briefing, the
Court also ordered Mr. Monzel to pay $5, 000 in nominal
restitution to each of the victims, "Amy" and
"Vicky." Restitution Order [Dkt. No. 50].
Mr. Monzel appealed certain aspects of his sentence. As a
result, the Court ultimately modified the award of
restitution for Amy, awarding her $7, 500. Order Granting the
Government's Supplemental Motion for Restitution
("Second Restitution Order") [Dkt. No. 115]. Mr.
Monzel is currently appealing the Second Restitution Order.
[Dkt. No. 117]. Additionally, the Court modified the terms of
the special conditions of supervised release to conform to a
proposed agreement jointly submitted by Mr. Monzel and the
Government. Amended Judgment as to Michael M. Monzel (May 3,
to filing this latest appeal challenging the Second
Restitution Order, Mr. Monzel filed his Petition on September
16, 2016. Though styled as a petition for writ of habeas
corpus, Mr. Monzel subsequently filed a Motion for Emergency
Hearing, which makes clear that his Petition seeks relief
under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. See Motion for Emergency Hearing
at 1 (describing the Petition as request for relief under 28
U.S.C. § 2255). Mr. Monzel has also filed numerous
motions seeking to: have the Government produce documents,
[Dkt. Nos. 120, 122, and 123]; serve requests for admissions
on the Government, [Dkt. No. 121]; compel responses from the
Government, [Dkt. Nos. 129 and 131]; and have the Court issue
an expedited ruling on all of the above motions, [Dkt. No.
132]. The Government filed an Opposition to Mr. Monzel's
Motion for Emergency Hearing, arguing that the arguments
raised in his Petition are meritless and that the Petition
may be denied without holding any hearing. Opposition at 1.
Mr. Monzel then filed a Reply to the Government's
STANDARD OF REVIEW
28 U.S.C. § 2255, a prisoner may move to vacate, set
aside, or correct a sentence imposed "in violation of
the Constitution or laws of the United States, " or any
sentence that "the court was without jurisdiction to
impose, " or that is "in excess of the maximum
authorized by law, " or is "otherwise subject to
collateral attack." 28 U.S.C. § 2255. It is the
prisoner's burden to prove her allegations by a
preponderance of the evidence. See United States v.
Simpson, 475 F.2d 934, 935 (D.C.Clr.1973). A challenge
under Section 2255 requires the prisoner to show a "good
deal more than would be sufficient on a direct appeal from
his sentence." United States v. Pollard. 959
F.2d 1011, 1020 (D.C. Cir. 1992).
2255 authorizes the Court to hold a hearing to consider a
prisoner's claims, "[u]nless the motion and the
files and records of the case conclusively show that the
prisoner is entitled to no relief." 28 U.S.C. §
2255(b). "[N]o hearing is required where [her] claims
are 'vague, conclusory, or palpably
incredible.'" Pollard, 959 F.2d at 1031
(quoting Machibroda v. United States, 368 U.S. 487,
495 (1962)). Additionally, where a prisoner "has failed
to present any affidavits or other evidentiary support for
the naked assertions contained in his motion" summary
disposition of the 2255 motion without a hearing is also
appropriate. United States v. Taylor, 139 F.3d 924,
933 (D.C. Cir. 1998); see also United States v.
Smith, 1998 WL 939501, *2 (D.C. Cir. 1998) (upholding
denial of motion without evidentiary hearing when defendant
provided no factual support in support of motion).
decision whether to hold a hearing is committed to the
court's discretion, particularly when the court reviewing
the motion presided over the criminal proceeding at issue.
See United States v. Morrison, 98 F.3d 619, 625
(D.C. Cir.1996), cert, denied, 520 U.S. 1131 (1997);
United States v. Sayan, 968 F.2d 55, 66 (D.C. Cir.
1992) (upholding summary denial of § 2255 proceeding in
part because the same judge who presided over the original
proceedings ruled on the § 2255 motion).
Monzel raises a number of arguments as to why the Court
should vacate his conviction; several raise pure questions of
law. For example, he argues: (1) that the United States is an
"improper party plaintiff without authority to prosecute
him, Petition at 4-5; (2) that the Court lacked jurisdiction
to hear his case, Petition at 22-53; (3) that his sentence
constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the
Eighth Amendment, Petition at 54-55; (4) that the victims-
"Amy" and "Vicky"-lacked standing to
participate as interested parties in this prosecution,
Petition at 6-7; (5) that the United States Code is not law,
and therefore, that his conviction for violating provisions
of the United States Code is unlawful, Petition at 12-15; (6)
that the grand jury that indicted him was improperly
convened, and therefore, that his indictment was
"fraudulent, " Petition at 15-20; (7) that he was
not charged with the violation of any Act of Congress, and
therefore, was improperly detained in violation of the
Non-detention Act of 1971, 18 USC § 4001, Petition at