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United States v. Watkins

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

October 24, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
TIMOTHY DEWAYNE WATKINS, JR., Defendant-Movant.

          ORDER

          VICKI MILES-LAGRANGE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Defendant-Movant Timothy Dewayne Watkins, Jr. (“Watkins”), a federal prisoner, filed a Motion Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody on May 1, 2017. On June 8, 2017, plaintiff-respondent United States of America filed its response to Watkins' motion. Watkins has filed no reply.

         I. Background

         On November 13, 2014, a grand jury issued a Superseding Indictment in Case No. CR-14-292-M, charging Watkins, along with several others, with, inter alia, armed bank robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a) and (d), and possession of a sawed-off shotgun in furtherance of a crime of violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(B)(i) and 18 U.S.C. § 2(a). These charges stemmed from Watkins' involvement in the September 15, 2014 armed robbery of the Bank of the West, located at 1201 S. Air Depot, Midwest City, Oklahoma. Similarly, on March 3, 2015, a grand jury issued a Superseding Indictment in Case No. CR-14-359-M, charging Watkins, along with several others, with, inter alia, armed bank robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a) and (d), and aiding and abetting the brandishing of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A)(ii) and 18 U.S.C. § 2(a). These charges stemmed from Watkins' involvement in the August 22, 2014 armed robbery of the Oklahoma Federal Credit Union, located at 3210 Belaire Drive, Midwest City, Oklahoma.

         On October 9, 2015, pursuant to a plea agreement, Watkins pled guilty to armed bank robbery and aiding and abetting possession of a sawed-off shotgun in furtherance of a crime of violence in Case No. CR-14-292-M and to armed bank robbery in Case No. CR-14-359-M. On May 31, 2016, the Court sentenced Watkins to 264 months of imprisonment, consisting of 144 months of imprisonment for armed bank robbery in Case No. CR-14-292-M and 144 months of imprisonment for armed bank robbery in Case No. CR-14-359-M, to run concurrently, and 120 months of imprisonment for aiding and abetting possession of a sawed-off shotgun in furtherance of a crime of violence in Case No. CR-14-292-M.[1] Watkins did not appeal his judgment or sentence.

         II. Discussion

         Watkins asserts four grounds in support of his § 2255 motion: (1) his sentence violates due process and is illegal because bank robbery is no longer a crime of violence; (2) his counsel was ineffective; (3) his sentence of restitution is illegal because it violates due process and is an excessive fine; and (4) his supervised release conditions violate due process and are illegal. The United States asserts that grounds one, three, and four are precluded by the appellate/collateral attack waiver he executed as part of the plea agreement. The United States further asserts that Watkins' ineffective assistance of counsel claim is without merit.

         A. Waiver

         “[A] waiver of collateral attack rights brought under § 2255 is generally enforceable where the waiver is expressly stated in the plea agreement and where both the plea and the waiver were knowingly and voluntarily made.” United States v. Cockerham, 237 F.3d 1179, 1183 (10th Cir. 2001). The Tenth Circuit has adopted a three-prong analysis for evaluating the enforceability of a plea agreement containing a waiver of appellate rights. United States v. Hahn, 359 F.3d 1315, 1325 (10th Cir. 2004) (en banc).[2] When assessing the enforceability of a plea agreement containing a waiver of rights, courts must determine: “(1) whether the disputed [issue] falls within the scope of the waiver . . .; (2) whether the defendant knowingly and voluntarily waived his . . . rights; and (3) whether enforcing the waiver would result in a miscarriage of justice . . . .” Id. at 1325.

         1. Scope of the waiver

         In determining the scope of a waiver of collateral rights, a court strictly construes the language thereof and resolves any ambiguities against the government. Id.

         Paragraph 13 of Watkins' plea agreement provides:

13. Defendant understands that the Court will consider those factors in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) in determining his sentence. Defendant also understands that the Court has jurisdiction and authority to impose any sentence within the statutory maximum for the offense(s) to which he is pleading guilty. Defendant further understands that 28 U.S.C. § 1291 and 18 U.S.C. § 3742 give him the right to appeal the judgment and sentence imposed by the Court. Acknowledging all this, and in exchange for the promises and concessions made by the United States in this plea agreement, defendant knowingly and voluntarily waives the following rights:
a. Defendant waives his right to appeal his guilty plea, and any other aspect of his conviction, including but not limited to any rulings on pretrial suppression motions or any other ...

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