United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO VACATE, SET
ASIDE, OR CORRECT SENTENCE PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 2255
(DOC. NO. 71)
August 2014 the Court sentenced and entered judgment against
Defendant Christopher Robinette for sexual exploitation of a
minor and transportation of a minor with intent to engage in
sexual activity. Robinette now petitions the Court to vacate,
set aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255. The Court will deny Robinette's petition for
pled guilty to eight counts of sexual exploitation of a minor
in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2251(a) and (e) and one
count of transportation of a minor with intent to engage in
sexual activity in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2423(a).
See Doc. No. 51; Doc. No. 52. The Court then
sentenced Robinette on August 25, 2014, and entered judgment
against Robinette on August 29, 2014. See Doc. No.
65; Doc. No. 67.
to Robinette, at or around the time of the sentencing,
Robinette's trial attorney, John Balazs, told Robinette
that there were multiple issues that were appropriate for
appeal. Robinette responded by telling Balazs that Robinette
wanted to appeal. According to Robinette, Robinette believed
at that time that Balazs would do “whatever needed to
be done to effect [Robinette's] opportunity to
appeal.” Doc. No. 71 at 23.
criminal case, a notice of appeal must be filed within
fourteen days of the district court's entry of judgment.
See Fed. R. App. P. 4(b)(1)(A); Fed. R. App. 26(a).
Therefore, the deadline for Robinette to file his notice of
appeal was on September 12, 2014. That deadline passed
without a notice of appeal being filed, and an appeal has not
been filed since. Robinette asserts that he was unaware from
the time of his sentencing until December 2017 that no appeal
asserts that after his sentencing he “remained in
transit” until arriving at the prison in Forrest City,
Arkansas on November 14, 2014. Robinette asserts that he was
subsequently placed in the Petersburg Medium prison in
Hopewell, Virginia on April 21, 2015.
asserts that in or around April 2015, if not earlier, he and
his mother began diligently investigating what Robinette
refers to as “the suspicious circumstances and cover up
of his case.” Doc. No. 75 at 9. Specifically, Robinette
asserts that his investigation initially focused on
“the suspicious circumstances surrounding [his] bizarre
arrest at [his] home in Amsterdam, Netherlands, and the even
more bizarre extradition to the United States.”
Id at 25.
asserts that his investigation was obstructed in multiple
ways. According to Robinette, those ways included (1) the
prison law libraries lacking adequate legal research training
materials, law books, and materials to help Robinette draft
court filings; (2) the prisons limiting Robinette “to a
meager 300 minutes of telephone time per month” or an
“average of 10 minutes per day, ” which was
“[h]ardly enough time to discuss the type and magnitude
of help that [he] needed, ” id at 11; (3) the
prisons monitoring Robinette's prison phone calls; (4)
the prisons denying internet access to Robinette; (5) the
prisons denying Robinette email access because prison policy
barred sex offenders from email access; and (6) the Arkansas
prison placing Robinette in a special housing unit with a
twenty-three hour lockdown period that allowed Robinette only
one fifteen-minute phone call per month.
asserts that despite these obstacles, Robinette and his
mother diligently continued their investigation through
February 2018. Robinette asserts that the investigation
consisted of (1) Robinette and his mother regularly
communicated with each other via postal mail and occasionally
met in person at the prison to discuss their investigative
findings, queries, and strategy; (2) at Robinette's
direction, Robinette's mother repeatedly traveled to
Amsterdam to learn about the circumstances of Robinette's
arrest and extradition, amongst other matters; (3) Robinette
completed a twelve-month paralegal program while in prison to
learn how to “fight his case” from prison,
id. at 12; and (4) Robinette and his mother
performed extensive and tedious legal research and fact
investigation, some of which was obstructed by the government
and other key players.
asserts that in June 2017 he sent a letter to Balazs asking
for an update on his appeal. According to Robinette, Balazs
responded to him in August 2017, but Balazs did not mention
an appeal. Robinette asserts that in November 2017 Robinette
sent a letter to the United States Attorney's Office in
Sacramento, California, requesting information about his
case. Robinette asserts that the United States Attorney's
Office responded to him in December 2017, informing Robinette
that an appeal had not been filed. According to Robinette,
this was the first time that Robinette learned that an appeal
had not been filed.
then filed his section 2255 petition on February 12, 2018,
which was nearly three-and-a-half years after the Court
entered judgment against Robinette in August 2014. In his
petition, Robinette presented six grounds on which he
believed that he was being held in custody in violation of
the Constitution and laws of the United States: four
different theories of ineffective assistance of counsel
(grounds one, two, three, and six), including one theory
related to Balazs' alleged failure to timely file an
appeal; one theory of prosecutorial misconduct (ground four);
and one theory of a Fourth Amendment violation (ground five).
Court reviewed Robinette's petition and questioned
whether the petition should be dismissed for not being filed
within section 2255's one-year period of limitation.
See 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f) (imposing a one-year
“period of limitation” for filing a section 2255
petition). Accordingly, the Court issued an order for
Robinette to show cause why his petition should not be
dismissed as untimely. See Doc. No. 72. In the order
to show cause, the Court referenced the Anti-Terrorism and
Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”),
which provides a one-year period of limitation to file a
petition to vacate, set aside, or correct a sentence. The
Court also quoted 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f), which states that
the one-year period of limitation is to be calculated from
the latest of the following applicable dates:
(1) the date on which the judgment of conviction becomes
(2) the date on which the impediment to making a motion
created by governmental action in violation of [federal law]
is removed, if the movant was prevented from making a ...