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United States of America v. Rodney Butler

June 26, 2012

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, RESPONDENT,
v.
RODNEY BUTLER,
MOVANT.



ORDER AND FINDINGS & RECOMMENDATIONS

Movant is a federal prisoner proceeding pro se with a motion to vacate, set aside or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. On October 24, 2006, movant pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846 and 841 (a)(1). Doc. No. 85. On July 19, 2007, movant was sentenced to a 240-month term of imprisonment and a 60-month term of supervised release. Doc. No. 93. Movant did not appeal in light of the plea agreement. See Pet. at 4. The instant petition has been construed to state a claim for entering the plea agreement unknowingly and involuntarily. Respondent filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim and as untimely.

RELEVANT FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

In the Indictment filed January 15, 2004, movant was charged with two counts: conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846 and 841 (a)(1), and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, in violation of 21 U.S.C. ¶ 841(a). On October 24, 2006, movant pleaded guilty. Doc. No. 85. At the change of plea hearing, the following exchange took place:

THE COURT: Will you be entering your plea of guilty today pursuant to the express terms of that written plea agreement? [MOVANT]: Yes.

THE COURT: Are you entering your plea of guilty voluntarily? [MOVANT]: Yes.

THE COURT: And because you are in fact guilty of the crimes as charged? [MOVANT]: Yes.

Reporter's Transcript ("RT") at 5-6.*fn1 After the prosecutor was asked to read the terms of the plea agreement, the court asked movant whether he understood the terms:

THE COURT: Are those the terms of your plea agreement with the Government as you understand them? [MOVANT]: Yes.

THE COURT: Has anyone threatened you in any way to force you to enter a plea of guilty today? [MOVANT]: No.

THE COURT: Has anyone made any other promises to you to try to induce you to enter a plea of guilty today? [MOVANT]: No.

Id. at 6-7.

During further questioning, movant stated that he understood the potential maximum penalty for the offense, that he would not be released on parole, that he may be ordered to pay restitution, that the court was not bound to the government's sentencing recommendation, and that he waived his right to appeal. RT at 7-8. The court then asked movant whether he understood that he was giving up certain constitutional rights:

THE COURT: Before I take your plea of guilty today, I need to make sure that you understand that you have certain Constitutional Rights attendant with that jury trial right, and you are willing to give them all up. My procedure is to list all of those rights for you, and I want you to listen to them all very carefully. At the end, I'm going to ask you whether you understand them all and whether you are willing to give them all up. Do you understand? [MOVANT]: Yes.

THE COURT: You have the right to have a trial by jury. You have the right to be presumed innocent. You have the right to have the Government prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. You have the right to have an attorney for you at all times. And if you cannot afford an attorney, to have one appointed for you at no cost to you. You have the right to present a defense to these charges. You have the right to see and hear all witnesses and evidence that will be presented against you at trial. And you have the right to cross-examine those witnesses as well. You have the right to use the power of this court to bring in witnesses and evidence on your behalf so that you can present a defense. You have the right to remain silent. And you have the right not to have your silence or your decision not to use witnesses or evidence in trial used against you. Do you understand all of your Constitutional Rights? [MOVANT]: Yes, Your Honor.

THE COURT: Do you give up all those Constitutional Rights? [MOVANT]: Yes, Your Honor.

Id. at 10-11. Following further discussion, the trial court accepted ...


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