United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
HONORABLE RICHARD A. JONES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on Petitioner James Joseph
Templeton's Motion Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate,
Set Aside, or Correct a Sentence By a Person in Federal
Custody. Dkt. #1. The Government filed a response to the
Motion. Dkt. #6. For the reasons that follow, the Court
DENIES Petitioner's Motion.
February 10, 2005, Mr. Templeton entered into a plea
agreement with the Government pursuant to Federal Rule of
Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1)(C) (“Agreement”).
Crim. Dkt. #190. Mr. Templeton pled guilty to Conspiracy to
Manufacture Methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C.
§§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(A), and 846. Crim. Dkt.
#90. The parties agreed to a non-guideline sentencing range
of 180 to 300 months imprisonment. Crim. Dkt. #190.
to sentencing, the Government conceded that “Mr.
Templeton met the requirements for application of the safety
valve provision which provides for a two-point downward
adjustment.” Crim. Dkt. #97. At sentencing, neither Mr.
Templeton nor the Government argued in favor or against a
safety valve reduction. Crim. Dkt. #129. The Sentencing Court
found that Mr. Templeton qualified for a base level offense
of 38, added 6 points for the risk of harm to the life of a
minor, and subtracted 3 points for acceptance of
responsibility, ending up with an offense level of 41 with a
criminal history level of 1. Id. The guidelines
sentencing range for this offense and criminal history level
was 324-405 months. Because this was outside the agreed range
of 180-300 months, the Sentencing Court then deliberated
about a non-guideline based sentence. Id.
Considering the amount of methamphetamine that Mr. Templeton
produced, combined with his manufacturing in the presence of
children and toxic dumping of residual chemicals, the
Sentencing Court found that a sentence equal to double the
statutory minimum of 10 years was appropriate. Id.
August 9, 2016, Mr. Templeton filed a motion to reduce his
sentence pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) and
Amendment 782 to the United States Sentencing Guidelines'
(“USSG”) Drug Quantity Table. Crim. Dkt. #148.
The Government opposed the motion. Crim. Dkt. #148. After
reviewing the motion, response, and hearing oral arguments,
the Court denied Mr. Templeton's motion. Crim. Dkt. #162.
Mr. Templeton appealed the Order denying his motion to the
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Crim. Dkt. #163. The appeal
12, 2016, Mr. Templeton filed a § 2255 motion claiming
ineffective assistance of counsel. Dkt. # 1.
28 U.S.C. § 2255(a), a federal prisoner may file a
motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his or her sentence
“upon the ground that the sentence was imposed in
violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States,
or that the court was without jurisdiction to impose such
sentence, or that the sentence was in excess of the maximum
authorized by law, or is otherwise subject to collateral
attack . . . .” Under 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c), there
is no right to appeal from a final order in a proceeding
under section 2255 unless a circuit judge issues a
certificate of appealability. 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(1)(B).
Templeton argues that his trial counsel's failure to ask
the Court to reduce his total offense level by two levels
under USSG § 2D1.1(b)(7) at his sentencing constituted
ineffective assistance of counsel. A claim for ineffective
assistance of counsel requires a showing that (1)
counsel's representation fell below an objective standard
of reasonableness, and (2) the claimant was prejudiced by the
inadequate performance. Strickland v. Washington,
466 U.S. 668, 687 (1984). The first step requires showing
“that counsel made errors so serious that counsel was
not functioning as the ‘counsel' guaranteed the
defendant by the Sixth Amendment.” Id. In
applying this first step, courts “must apply a strong
presumption that counsel's representation was within the
wide range of reasonable professional assistance.”
Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 104 (2011)
(quotation marks and citation omitted). The second step
requires showing “that counsel's errors were so
serious as to deprive the defendant of a fair trial, a trial
whose result is reliable.” Strickland, 466
U.S. at 687.
28 U.S.C. § 2255(f), there is a one-year statute of
limitations period for filing a motion to vacate a sentence.
While Mr. Templeton's conviction became final on April
18, 2007, he argues that a new one-year statute of
limitations period applies to his claim under 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255(f)(4). Under § 2255(f)(4), the one-year
period for filing a motion to vacate begins to run on
“the date on which facts supporting the claim or claims
presented could have been discovered through the exercise of
due diligence.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f)(4). Mr.
Templeton's argues that a new statute of limitations
period for filing a motion to vacate began when two events
occurred: 1) this Court denied his 28 U.S.C. §
3582(c)(2) motion and commented that there were
“several appealing arguments” presented to reduce
Mr. Templeton's sentence (Crim. Dkt. # 162); and 2) the
Ninth Circuit issued a decision in United States v.
Davis, 825 F.3d 1014 (9th Cir. 2016), finding that
defendants who entered into Rule 11(c)(1)(C) plea agreements
may benefit from section 3582(c)(2) if “the judge's
decision to accept the plea and impose the recommended
sentence” was based on the USSG. Id. at 1026.
Templeton argues that, had his trial counsel argued properly
for a two-level safety valve reduction at his sentencing in
2005, his new guidelines sentencing range would have made him
eligible for a sentence reduction. Absent the two-level
safety valve reduction at the time of sentencing, Mr.
Templeton's sentencing guidelines range was 324 - 405
months. Under the current applicable sentencing guidelines,
Mr. Templeton's sentencing range would be 262 - 327
months imprisonment. Mr. Templeton's current sentence,
240 months, falls below the sentencing range, which made him
ineligible for a sentence reduction under Amendment 782. Mr.
Templeton contends that had he received the two-level safety
valve reduction, the new applicable guidelines sentencing
range would have been 210 - 267 months imprisonment, which
would have allowed him to qualify for a reduction in sentence
under Amendment 782. Amendment 782 did not become applicable
to Mr. Templeton until the decision in Davis, thus,
Mr. Templeton argues that he would not have been able to show
that he was prejudiced by the ...