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Carson v. United States

United States District Court, D. Delaware

January 30, 2015

DENNIS D. CARSON, Movant/Defendant,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent/Plaintiff. Cr. A. No. 06-116-GMS

Dennis D. Carson. Pro se movant.

Jennifer K. Welsh, Assistant United States Attorney, United States Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware. Attorney for respondent.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

GREGORY M. SLEET, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Movant Dennis D. Carson ("Carson") filed a pro se motion to vacate, set aside, or correct sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. (D.I. 46) The government filed an answer in opposition. (D.I. 53) For the reasons discussed, the court will deny Carson's § 2255 motion as time-barred without holding an evidentiary hearing.

II. BACKGROUND

In 2005, Carson filed a civil suit against Springfield College after the school dismissed him for violating the Code of Student Conduct. (D.I. 1) In October 2006, Carson mailed a letter to the law firm representing Springfield College; the letter contained numerous threats and references to the Columbine shooting, and suggested that similar events might occur if Springfield College failed to pay him $75, 000, reinstate him as a student, and grant him free tuition. See United States v. Carson, 377 F.Appx. 257, 258 (3d Cir. 2010). Carson was subsequently indicted and charged with: (1) transmitting in interstate commerce a threat to injure the person of the another with the intent to extort money and other things of value (violating 18 U.S.C. § 875 (b)); and (2) transmitting in interstate commerce a communication containing a threat to injure another person (violating 18 U.S.C. § 875 (c)). (D.I. 5; D.I. 6)

Based on statements Carson made in his threatening letter and during an interview with his United States Probation Officer, the government filed an unopposed motion for a competency evaluation. (D.I. 10) Magistrate Judge Mary Pat Thynge granted the motion on October 31, 2006. (D.I. 11). Dr. William J. Ryan, a licensed psychologist, filed a psychiatric report on January 16, 2007, opining that, although Carson suffers from schizoaffective disorder and other mental health problems, Carson "currently does possess a rational and factual understanding of the proceedings against him, does have the capacity to assist legal counsel in his defense, and he can rationally make decision regarding legal strategy." (D.I. 15; D.I. 53 at 2) In February 2007, Magistrate Judge Thynge held a competency and determined that Carson was competent to stand trial. See (Minute Entry from 2/1/2007, stating "Competency Hearing as to Dennis D. Carson held on 2/1/2007.")

On July 16, 2007, while under oath before this court, Carson entered a guilty plea to count one of the indictment charging him with violating 18 U.S.C. § 875(b). (D.I. 24; D.I. 43) During the change of plea hearing, the court conducted a thorough colloquy with Carson and his defense counsel about Carson's mental state. (D.I. 43 at 5-10) The court found Carson to be competent to enter a guilty plea, stating:

After having reviewed the psychologist's evaluation from the Metropolitan Correctional Facility in New York, albeit dated some time ago, having questioned Mr. Carson, and having discussed Mr. Carson's current level of competence with [defense counsel], in light of the responses that I have received, the Court will find, Mr. Carson, that you are competent and fully capable of proceeding forward today.

(D.I. 43 at 10)

On February 7, 2008, the court sentenced Carson to ten years of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release. (D.I. 42) Judgment was entered on February 27, 2008. (D.I. 35) The Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Carson's conviction and sentence on April 28, 2010. See Carson, 377 F.Appx. at 259-60.

Carson filed the instant § 2255 motion in February 2012, contending that he was not competent to enter a guilty plea. (D.I. 46) The government filed an answer asserting that the motion should be denied as ...


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