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Jones v. United States

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

September 20, 2017

JEFFREY JONES, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          OPINION

          ROBERT B. KUGLER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Petitioner, Jeffrey Jones, seeks relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 from his federal conviction and sentence. For the following reasons, Mr. Jones' § 2255 motion will be denied.

         II. BACKGROUND

         In January, 2012, a criminal complaint was issued against Mr. Jones for conspiring with others to distribute and possess with intent to distribute crack cocaine from 1990 to 2007. In August, 2012, Mr. Jones waived his right to prosecution by indictment and consented to prosecution by information. On August 21, 2012, Mr. Jones and the government filed a plea agreement with this Court. Among the things that Mr. Jones agreed to in that plea agreement was the following:

Jeffrey Jones knows that he has, and voluntarily waives, the right to file any appeal, and collateral attack, or any other writ or motion, including but not limited to an appeal under 18 U.S.C. § 3742 or a motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, which challenges the sentence imposed by the sentencing court if that sentence does not exceed a term of imprisonment of 240 months and 12 years of supervised release.

(Dkt. No. 11-2 at p.7-8) Furthermore, on that same day, this Court conducted a change of plea hearing. At the change of plea hearing, the following colloquy took place between Mr. Jones and this Court:

Q: Now in paragraph eight, you give up some very important rights to appeal. Do you understand normally you'd have the right to appeal or file a motion or a writ or in some way attack any sentence that I impose upon you. Do you understand that?
A: Yes.
Q: The government has rights to appeal or file motions or writs regarding any sentence I impose. But under paragraph eight, you're willing to give up these very important rights to appeal or file a motion or a writ or in any way challenge the sentence under a certain condition and that condition is, that if I sentence you to a sentence of imprisonment in accordance with this plea agreement, then you're going to give up your rights to appeal or file a motion or a writ. In other words, if I do agree to give you 240 months, that's it and you're never going to be able to change that sentence. Do you understand that?
A: Yes.
Q: Furthermore in this paragraph you agree that any of these other stipulations are binding and you cannot appeal or file a motion saying I was wrong to accept the stipulation because you've agreed to it. Do you understand and agree with that?
A: Yes.

(Dkt. No. 11-3 at p.24-25) Later on at the hearing, this point was re-emphasized in a colloquy between the government's attorney, the Court and Mr. Jones as follows:

Q [Government Attorney]: Just one other thing, your Honor, which is that I understand from speaking to counsel that in addition to all the pretrial rights and this may have been covered by the court, the defendant understands that he's not going to be able to litigate. There's going to be no further litigation either in this court if this plea is accepted or in an Appellate Court of any issues that could have been brought up pretrial like suppression, that he could have filed a suppression motion or Speedy Trial motion or any other motion that he understands that this is an unconditional plea that waives all of those issues.
THE COURT: You know that.
THE DEFENDANT: Yes.
THE COURT: If I accept this, it's over.
THE DEFENDANT: Yes.
THE COURT: All right. You're not going to be able to challenge anything about this prosecution or the sentence you get. Do you understand that?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes.

(Dkt. No. 11-3 at p.39-40) This Court then deferred accepting the guilty plea pending the completion of the pre-sentence report (“PSR”).

         Subsequently, on February 13, 2013, this Court accepted Mr. Jones' guilty plea on one count of conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute 280 grams or more of crack cocaine. He was sentenced to 240 months imprisonment to be followed by twelve years of supervised release. Mr. Jones did not file a direct appeal.

         Mr. Jones filed his § 2255 motion on July 22, 2014 pursuant to the prisoner mailbox rule. See Houston v. Lack, 487 U.S. 266, 270-71 (1988); Maples v. Warren, No. 12-0993, 2012 WL 1344828, at *1 n. 2 (D.N.J. Apr. 16, 2012) (“Often times, when the court is unable to determine the exact date that a petitioner handed his petition to prison officials for mailing, it will look to the signed and dated certification of the petition.”). However, his original motion was administratively terminated because it was not filed on the proper form. Subsequently, this Court received petitioner's § 2255 motion on the proper form on August 21, 2014.

         Mr. Jones' § 2255 motion raises the following substantive claims:

1. The government committed reversible discovery error by not handing over all exculpatory and impeachment material evidence to Mr. Jones within fourteen days of his arraignment (“Claim I”).
2. Reversible error occurred when the court applied an extra ten-year sentencing enhancement to him that was not proven beyond a ...

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