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United States v. Barnes

March 24, 2003

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
WALTER BARNES, APPELLANT IN NO. 02-1002
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
WALTER BARNES, APPELLANT IN NO. 02-1592



On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (D.C. Crim. No. 00-00060) Honorable Eduardo C. Robreno, District Judge

Before: Scirica, Greenberg, and GIBSON,*fn1 Circuit Judges

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Greenberg, Circuit Judge

PRECEDENTIAL

Submitted under Third Circuit LAR 34.1(a) February 28, 2003

OPINION OF THE COURT

These consolidated proceedings come on before this court on appeals from a judgment of conviction and sentence entered December 26, 2001, and from an order entered on February 19, 2002, denying bail. We set forth the case's rather convoluted procedural history in detail as that history caused us to question whether we have jurisdiction and thus to request the parties' views on that point. The parties have stated their views, both urging that we have jurisdiction. We independently have determined that we do have jurisdiction and thus adjudicate the case on the merits insofar as the issues raised are properly before us. See United States v. Scarfo, 263 F.3d 80, 87 (3d Cir. 2001).

The background of the case is as follows. Appellant Walter Barnes was charged in a ten-count indictment with filing false claims for refunds with the Internal Revenue Service and with aiding and abetting the presentation of the claims contrary to 18 U.S.C. §§ 287 and 2. The indictment arose out of a scheme in which Barnes and Joseph Johnson, who also was indicted but pleaded guilty and testified at Barnes' trial, cooperated in a scheme to prepare and file false income tax returns for a fee, thereby obtaining for the taxpayers refunds to which they were not entitled. The scheme included making unjustified claims for deductions for dependents on the taxpayers' returns and improperly claiming "Head of Household" instead of "Single" filing status on certain returns. Barnes pleaded not guilty to the indictment but was convicted on nine of the ten counts at a jury trial.

The Probation Office prepared a presentence report and neither party, though having the opportunity to do so, objected to the proposed total offense level or any other guideline calculation. Thus, the Probation Office's calculation of a total offense level of 18 which, with a criminal history category of I, yielded a guideline range of 27 to 33 months, went unchallenged. The Probation Office calculated the total offense level on the basis of tax offense rather than fraud guidelines and included a 4-level increase for Barnes' leadership role under U.S.S.G. § 3B1.1(a). The use of the tax guidelines resulted in a 2-level higher offense level than the fraud guidelines would have yielded. The district court sentenced Barnes on December 13, 2000, to a 33-month custodial term to be followed by a three-year term of supervised release. In addition, the court ordered Barnes to pay restitution but we are not concerned with that aspect of the sentence on this appeal. The judgment of conviction and sentence was entered on January 3, 2001.

Following the sentencing there was some confusion regarding whether Barnes intended to appeal and, as a result, his attorney did not file a notice of appeal for him. Barnes, however, filed an untimely pro se notice of appeal on March 6, 2001, but we dismissed the appeal on July 11, 2001.

After Barnes filed his notice of appeal but before we dismissed the appeal, he filed a motion on May 23, 2001, under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 in the district court seeking relief on the theory that his attorney had been ineffective for failing to file a notice of appeal. On May 25, 2001, the district court, as required by United States v. Miller, 197 F.3d 644, 652 (3d Cir. 1999), entered an order that advised Barnes of the necessity to include all of his claims for relief in his section 2255 petition because of the statutory impediment in section 2255 to filing a second or successive petition under that section. In response, Barnes filed a notice on June 22, 2001, that he wished to withdraw his original motion. The district court granted Barnes' motion and on July 2, 2001, entered an order dismissing the section 2255 motion without prejudice.

On August 30, 2001, Barnes filed a new section 2255 motion which, in view of the order dismissing his original motion without prejudice, was a substituted rather than a second or successive motion. The substituted motion sought relief on three bases by reason of Barnes' trial attorney having been ineffective: (1) for failing to appeal; (2) for not objecting to the use of tax rather than fraud guidelines in the calculation of his offense level; and (3) for failing to object to the 4-level offense level increase for a leadership role. The district court appointed a new attorney to represent Barnes on the substituted section 2255 motion but Barnes nevertheless filed a pro se brief raising a fourth point, i.e., that he was entitled to a downward sentencing departure because the Bureau of Prisons was not providing him with necessary medical care.

The district court held a hearing on Barnes' motion and granted it on December 21, 2001, but only to the extent that the court vacated the judgment of conviction and sentence entered on January 3, 2001, and entered an identical judgment of conviction and sentence on December 26, 2001. The December 21, 2001 order further provided that "All other issues will be taken under advisement." This substitution of a new but identical judgment in the place of the original judgment permitted Barnes to file a timely notice of appeal. In fact, Barnes appealed on December 31, 2001, but only from the substituted judgment of conviction and sentence entered on December 26, 2001. This appeal was docketed as No. 02-1002.

Subsequently, on January 17, 2002, Barnes moved for bail pending appeal but on February 19, 2002, the district court denied that motion. On February 27, 2002, Barnes filed a timely notice of appeal, docketed as No. 02-1592, from the February 19, 2002 order denying bail. We have consolidated the two appeals and adjudicate both in this opinion.

When we considered the foregoing procedural history we were concerned because it was apparent that the district court largely had not addressed the issues Barnes raised in his substituted section 2255 motion. It thus occurred to us that the matter might not be final in all respects in the district court. We are satisfied, however, that we have jurisdiction over the appeal from the judgment of conviction and sentence in No. 02-1002 as the partially pending substituted section ...


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