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Houck v. United States

United States District Court, D. Delaware

February 15, 2018

KENNETH HOUCK, Movant/Defendant,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent/Plaintiff.

          Kenneth Houck. Pro se movant.

          Edward Mc Andrew. Assistant United States Attorney, United States Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware. Attorney for respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          SLEET UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Presently pending before the court is a letter motion to reduce sentence (D.I. 25) and a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (D.I. 27) filed by movant Kenneth Houck ("Houck"). The government filed an answer in opposition to the § 2255 motion. (D.I. 29) For the reasons set forth below, the court will deny both motions without holding an evidentiary hearing.

         II. BACKGROUND

         On November 12, 2011, Houck pled guilty to one count of transportation of child pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252A(a)(1). (D.I. 15) The court sentenced him on February 23, 2012 to 97 months of imprisonment, and the judgment was entered on the docket on March 8, 2012. (D.I. 24) Houck did not file a direct appeal.

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Section 2255 Motion

         Houck asserts the following four grounds for relief in his § 2255 motion: (1) the government should have asked for a sentence reduction for the assistance he provided in bringing about the convictions of two individuals who assaulted him on November 10, 2011 in a federal detention center; (2) he is suffering pain from injuries as a result of that assault and his requests to be returned "back to the medical center to live" have been denied; (3) his sentence should be reduced because he has been employed and/or involved with full-time prison programs while incarcerated; and (4) he has been denied pain relievers to help him deal with his injuries and has had to "seek treatment on the street on [his] own."

         A prisoner in; federal custody may attack the validity of his conviction or sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 "upon the ground that [it] 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." Consequently, a prisoner may only seek relief under § 2255 if he alleges a jurisdictional defect, a constitutional violation, or an error that resulted in a "complete miscarriage of justice" or was "inconsistent with the rudimentary demands of fair procedure." United States v. Timmreck, 441 U.S. 780, 784 (1979). In this proceeding, none of Houck's claims fit within the permissible challenges under § 2255. For instance, although claim one tangentially relates to Houck's sentencing, it does not assert a jurisdictional or constitutional error. Nothing in the record even remotely suggests that the government was obligated to file a motion for a reduction of sentence based on Houck's assistance in the conviction of others. Consequently, Houck cannot demonstrate how the government's alleged failure to seek a reduction in his sentence rendered his sentencing unfair. In turn, claims two, three, and four fail to assert any errors, (whether jurisdictional, constitutional, or otherwise), related to Houck's criminal proceeding. For these reasons, the court will deny all four claims for failing to present issues cognizable under § 2255. For these reasons, the court will deny all four claims for failing to present issues cognizable under § 2255.

         Nevertheless, even if the claims were cognizable, the court would deny the § 2255 motion in its entirety as time-barred. The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA") imposes a one-year period of limitation on the filing of a § 2255 motion by federal prisoners. See 28 U.S.C. § 2255. The one-year limitations period begins to run from the latest of: '

(1) the date on which the judgment of conviction becomes final;
(2) the date on which the impediment to making a motion created by governmental action in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States is removed, if the movant was prevented from ...

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