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United States v. Ojeda

United States District Court, D. Nebraska

April 11, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
COREY J. OJEDA Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Laurie Smith Camp Chief United States District Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on the Motion for Reconsideration, ECF No. 48, filed by Defendant Corey J. Ojeda (“Ojeda”), and the Motion for a Certificate of Appealability, ECF No. 49, filed by Ojeda's court-appointed counsel[1]. Ojeda asks the Court to reconsider its Judgment, ECF No. 47, in which the Court summarily dismissed Ojeda's Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (“§ 2255 Motion”), ECF No. 39. For the reasons stated below, Ojeda's Motion for Reconsideration, ECF No. 48, will be granted.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Ojeda's Motion for Reconsideration is construed as a motion to alter or amend judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e), and is timely. See Hallquist v. United Home Loans, Inc., 715 F.3d 1040, 1044 n.2 (8th Cir. 2013) (explaining “motions to reconsider” are “treated as a motion to alter or amend judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e)”).

         “Rule 59(e) motions serve the limited function of correcting ‘manifest errors of fact or law or to offer newly discovered evidence . . . .'” United States v. Metro St. Louis Sewer Dist., 440 F.3d 930, 933 (8th Cir. 2006) (quoting Innovative Home Health Care v. P.T.-O.T. Assoc. of the Black Hills, 141 F.3d 1284, 1286 (8th Cir. 1998)).

         DISCUSSION

         Ojeda contends that the Court dismissed his § 2255 Motion before fully considering the application of the United States Supreme Court's holding in Beckles v. United States to the circumstances of his sentence. ___ U.S. ___, 137 S.Ct. 886 (2017).

         In Beckles, the Supreme Court held that the “advisory [United States Sentencing] Guidelines are not subject to vagueness challenges under the Due Process Clause.” Id. at 890 (emphasis added). Ojeda was sentenced under the U.S.S.G. in 2002[2] when the United States Sentencing Guidelines (“U.S.S.G.”) were mandatory rather than advisory and, as such, cites the following statement from Beckles in his Motion to Reconsider:

The Court's adherence to the formalistic distinction between mandatory and advisory rules at least leaves open the question whether defendants sentenced to terms of imprisonment before our decision in United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220, 125 S.Ct. 738, 160 L.Ed.2d 621 (2005)-that is, during the period in which the Guidelines did “fix the permissible range of sentences, ” ante, at 892-may mount vagueness attacks on their sentences. That question is not presented by this case and I, like the majority, take no position on its appropriate resolution.

Beckles v. United States, 137 S.Ct. 886, 905 n.4 (2017) (Sotomayor, J., concurring).

         Therefore, Beckles, as applied to Ojeda's pre-Booker sentence, does not necessarily prohibit a Due Process vagueness challenge to the mandatory U.S.S.G. used to sentence Ojeda in 2002. Because Beckles was relied upon to summarily dismiss Ojeda's § 2255 Motion, the Court finds it appropriate to grant the Motion to Reconsider. As a result, Ojeda's Motion for a Certificate of Appealability regarding the Court's denial of his § 2255 Motion is moot. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED:

         1. Ojeda's Motion to Reconsider, ECF No. 48, is granted;

         2. Ojeda's Motion for a Certificate of Appealability, ECF No. 49, is denied as moot;

         3. On or before April 25, 2017, court-appointed counsel will confirm whether he is representing the Defendant pursuant to the Defendant's consent, and, if ...


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