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Stokes v. United States

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Statesboro Division

June 18, 2018

ERIC STOKES, Movant,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          ORDER AND MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          R. STAN BAKER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         More than fifteen years ago, this Court sentenced Movant Eric Jermaine Stokes (“Stokes”) to 110 months' imprisonment after he pleaded guilty to being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. Stokes, who is currently incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution-Estill in Estill, South Carolina, has now filed a Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct his Sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. (Doc. 14.)[1] The Government filed a Motion to Dismiss Stokes' Petition as untimely, to which Stokes filed Responses in opposition. (Docs. 20, 21, 23.) For the reasons which follow, I RECOMMEND that the Court GRANT the Government's Motion to Dismiss, DISMISS Stokes' Section 2255 Motion as untimely, DENY Stokes in forma pauperis status on appeal, DENY Stokes a certificate of appealability, and DIRECT the Clerk of Court enter the appropriate judgment of dismissal and to CLOSE this case.

         BACKGROUND

         On September 13, 2002, a grand jury in this District charged Stokes with possession of a firearm by a felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). (Doc. 1.) Stokes entered into an agreement with the Government to plead guilty to the one count against him and to waive his right to appeal and collaterally attack his sentence. (Doc. 11.) In exchange, the Government agreed not to object to a three-level reduction in Stokes' offense level for acceptance of responsibility, to make no recommendation as to his sentence, and to advise the Court of whether any cooperation Stokes provided qualifies as “substantial assistance.” (Id.) On November 27, 2002, Stokes appeared before the Honorable B. Avant Edenfield and entered a plea of guilty to the one count against him. (Doc. 10.) Prior to Stokes' sentencing, the United States Probation Office prepared a Presentence Investigation Report (“PSI”). The Probation Office recommended a sentencing range under the United States Sentencing Guidelines of 110-120 months' imprisonment. (PSI, ¶ 59.) This recommendation included a three-point reduction in Stokes' offense level due to his acceptance of responsibility. (Id. at ¶¶ 16-18.)

         On February 4, 2003, Stokes appeared before Judge Edenfield for a sentencing hearing. Judge Edenfield sentenced Stokes to the bottom end of his Guidelines range, 110 months' imprisonment, and entered judgment the next day on that sentence. (Doc. 12.) Stokes did not file a direct appeal.

         DISCUSSION

         On August 15, 2017, Stokes filed the instant Section 2255 Motion and supporting brief. (Docs. 14, 15.) Stokes alleges his attorney, Evelyn S. Hubbard, rendered ineffective assistance during the plea, sentencing, and appeal phases of his criminal proceedings. (Id.) The Government moved to dismiss Stokes' Motion on January 10, 2018. (Doc. 20.) The Government contends that the Court should dismiss Stokes' Motion as untimely. (Id.) Stokes filed Responses in opposition to the Government's Motion to Dismiss. (Docs. 21, 23.)

         I. Whether Stokes Timely Filed his Section 2255 Motion

         To determine whether Stokes filed his Section 2255 Motion in a timely manner, the Court must look to the applicable statute of limitations period. Motions made pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 are subject to a one-year statute of limitations period. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f). This 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 making a motion by such governmental action;
(3) the date on which the right asserted was initially recognized by the Supreme Court, if that right has been newly recognized by the Supreme Court and made retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review; or
(4) the date on which the facts supporting the claim or claims presented could have been discovered through the ...

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