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United States v. Taulua

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

November 12, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
SIMETA E. TAULUA, Defendant.

          ORDER: TRANSMITTING MOTIONS SEEKING CERTIFICATION OF SECOND OR SUCCESSIVE 28 U.S.C. § 2255 MOTION; DENYING MOTION SEEKING TO REOPEN THE TIME TO FILE AN APPEAL; AND DENYING CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY

          Leslie E. Kobayashi United States District Judge

         On May 17, 2012, Defendant Simeta E. Taulua, Jr. (“Taulua”) was sentenced to 235 months of imprisonment and five years of supervised release for one count of conspiracy to distribute, and to possess with intent to distribute, fifty grams or more of methamphetamine. [Minutes, filed 5/17/12 (dkt. no. 172); Judgment in a Criminal Case (“Judgment”), filed 5/21/12 (dkt. no. 175).] Taulua did not file an appeal from the Judgment. In light of Amendment 782 to the United States Sentencing Guidelines (“Amendment 782”), Taulua's term of imprisonment was subsequently reduced to 191 months. [Order Regarding Motion for Sentence Reduction Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) (“Sentence Reduction Order”), filed 4/14/15 (dkt. no. 227).]

         On August 24, 2015, Taulua filed a Motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody (“§ 2255 Motion”).[1] [Dkt. no. 229.] The § 2255 Motion was denied in an order filed on January 26, 2016 (“1/26/16 § 2255 Order”). [Dkt. no. 240.] On March 7, 2016, Taulua filed a motion for reconsideration of the 1/26/16 § 2255 Order. [Dkt. no. 244.] The motion for reconsideration was denied on May 9, 2016. [Dkt. no. 255.] Also on March 7, 2016, Taulua filed a notice of appeal from the Sentence Reduction Order. [Dkt. no. 245.] The Ninth Circuit dismissed the appeal as untimely. [Order, filed 8/3/16 (dkt. no. 273) (noting the appeal appeared to be untimely and directing Taulua to either file a motion for voluntary dismissal or show cause why the appeal was timely); Order, filed 8/11/16 (dkt. no. 275) (grating Taulua's motion to voluntarily dismiss the appeal).]

         On June 6, 2016, Taulua filed a notice of appeal from the Judgment. [Dkt. no. 260.] The Ninth Circuit also dismissed that appeal as untimely. [Order, filed 6/9/16 (dkt. no. 263); Order, filed 6/23/16 (dkt. no. 269).] Taulua has also filed other appeals that are not relevant to the motions currently before this Court.

         I. October 1, 2019 Motion

         On October 1, 2019, Taulua filed a document titled “‘Motion for Relief from a Judgment or Order Pursuant to Rule 60(b) and 60(d)(1)'” (“10/1/19 Motion”). [Dkt. no. 328.] 28 U.S.C. § 2255 states, in pertinent part:

(a) A prisoner in custody under sentence of a court established by Act of Congress claiming the right to be released 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, may move the court which imposed the sentence to vacate, set aside or correct the sentence.
(b) Unless the motion and the files and records of the case conclusively show that the prisoner is entitled to no relief, the court shall cause notice thereof to be served upon the United States attorney, grant a prompt hearing thereon, determine the issues and make findings of fact and conclusions of law with respect thereto. If the court finds that the judgment was rendered without jurisdiction, or that the sentence imposed was not authorized by law or otherwise open to collateral attack, or that there has been such a denial or infringement of the constitutional rights of the prisoner as to render the judgment vulnerable to collateral attack, the court shall vacate and set the judgment aside and shall discharge the prisoner or resentence him or grant a new trial or correct the sentence as may appear appropriate.

         The 10/1/19 Motion argues Taulua's sentence should be corrected because this Court abused its discretion and committed errors of law during the Amendment 782 sentence reduction process. He also asserts that he is actually innocent of the charge he was convicted of. Section 2255(h) states:

A second or successive motion must be certified as provided in [28 U.S.C. §] 2244 by a panel of the appropriate court of appeals to contain-
(1) newly discovered evidence that, if proven and viewed in light of the evidence as a whole, would be sufficient to establish by clear and convincing evidence that no reasonable factfinder would have found the movant guilty of the offense; or
(2) a new rule of constitutional law, made retroactive to cases on collateral review by the Supreme Court, that was previously unavailable.

         In light of the procedural history of this case, this Court liberally construes Taulua's 10/1/19 Motion as a motion for certification of a second or successive § 2255 Motion. Cf. United States v. Seesing, 234 F.3d 456, 462 (9th Cir. 2000) (“Pro se complaints and motions from prisoners are to be liberally construed.”).

         II. October ...


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