Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Palmer v. United States

United States District Court, D. Utah, Central Division

April 27, 2017

RODNEY JAMES PALMER, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          ROBERT SHELBY United States District Judge.

         Rodney Palmer pled guilty in 2013 to one count of producing child pornography. He was subsequently sentenced to seventeen and a half years in federal custody. Palmer has now filed a motion to vacate his sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, arguing his attorney provided ineffective assistance and the court lacked jurisdiction to sentence him. For the reasons below, the motion is denied.[1]

         BACKGROUND

         Palmer was indicted in 2012 on one count of Production of Child Pornography under 18 U.S.C. § 2251(a) and one count of Possession of Child Pornography under § 2252A(a)(5)(B). He subsequently entered into a plea agreement under which he pled guilty to the production count and the possession count was dismissed. As part of the agreement, Palmer waived his right to challenge his sentence on direct appeal or collateral review.

         A few months after entering his plea, Palmer moved to withdraw the plea on the basis that his attorneys coerced him into accepting the plea deal. The court held an evidentiary hearing and concluded Palmer's plea was knowing and voluntary, and was made with effective assistance of counsel.[2] The court subsequently sentenced Palmer to 210 months in custody.[3] Palmer appealed the denial of his motion to withdraw the plea, and the Tenth Circuit affirmed.[4]

         Palmer has now filed a timely Motion to Vacate his Sentence under 28 U.S.C § 2255.[5]He argues his sentence should be vacated because: (1) he received ineffective assistance of counsel; and (2) the court lacks jurisdiction because he is a sovereign citizen and is not subject to federal law. The court did not request a response from the government, and none has been filed.

         ANALYSIS

         Section 2255 provides federal prisoners with an avenue for relief based on defects in the prisoner's underlying judgment.[6] The standard of review under § 2255 is quite stringent. The court must presume that the challenged conviction is valid.[7] The defendant carries the burden of demonstrating otherwise by pointing to: (1) lack of jurisdiction by the court entering judgment; (2) an error of constitutional magnitude; (3) a sentence imposed beyond statutory limits; or (4) an error of law or fact that constitutes a “complete miscarriage of justice.”[8]

         I. Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

         Palmer's first argument is that his sentence should be vacated because he received ineffective assistance of counsel. Before turning to the merits, the court must determine whether this argument was waived. As part of his plea agreement, Palmer waived his right to challenge his sentence in any appellate proceedings, including in a § 2255 motion. An appellate waiver in a plea agreement is generally enforceable and will bar appellate review if: (1) the issue raised falls within the scope of the waiver; (2) the defendant knowingly and voluntarily waived his rights; and (3) the waiver will not result in a miscarriage of justice.[9]

         With regard to the scope of the waiver, Palmer's agreement expressly permits him to bring an ineffective assistance claim, but only one related to “counsel's ineffective assistance in negotiating or entering th[e] plea.”[10] Palmer's ineffective assistance argument, which consists of one sentence, alleges ineffective assistance in investigating “possible defenses that could have been raised, ” not in negotiating his plea. Thus, this argument falls within the scope of Palmer's appeal waiver.

         As to the second element, the court has already found that Palmer knowingly and voluntarily waived his right to appeal.[11] And on the third element, the court finds that waiver of this appellate issue will not result in a miscarriage of justice; the court has already concluded that Palmer received effective assistance negotiating his plea, [12] and Palmer provides no support for the argument that his attorney “fail[ed] to look into possible defenses that could have been raised, ” nor does he argue that leaving this alleged failure unaddressed would result in a miscarriage of justice.[13] Thus, Palmer's ineffective assistance argument is waived, and does not provide a basis for vacating Palmer's sentence.

         II. The Sovereign Citizen Argument

         Palmer next argues that the court was without jurisdiction to enter judgment against him or sentence him because he is a sovereign citizen of the state of California to whom the laws of the United States do not apply. As with the ineffective assistance argument, the appellate waiver in Palmer's plea agreement bars collateral review of this argument if it ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.