Friday, December 21, 2018

Appeal After 2255 Challenging Eventual Sentence Is Criminal, Not Civil, For FRAP Purposes

USv. Chaney: Chaney pleaded guilty to carjacking and gun charges in 2003, pursuant to a plea agreement where he waived most of his appeal and 2255 rights. He was sentenced to 272 months – concurrent 180 and 188-month terms on the carjacking and felon in possession charges, with a consecutive 84-month sentence on the use of a firearm charge. After the Fourth Circuit’s decision in Simmons, he filed a 2255, arguing that he no longer had a qualifying prior felony and his felon in possession conviction should be vacated. In addition, he sought resentencing on the other counts. The Government agreed not to invoke the waiver on the felon in possession count, agreeing that conviction could not stand, but opposed resentencing. The district court followed the Government’s lead, vacating the conviction but leaving the other sentences intact.

Chaney appealed, arguing that he was entitled to be fully resentenced. The Fourth Circuit dismissed the appeal as being untimely filed. Chaney filed his notice of appeal 54 days after the district court granted his 2255 and entered an amended judgment in the criminal case – within the 60-day requirement for civil cases, but well outside the 14-day deadline for criminal cases. The court held that Chaney was really appealing the new criminal sentence – the relief provided by the district court in the 2255 proceeding – not the result of the 2255 proceeding itself (which was in his favor). Alternately, the court held that the district court did not err in how it resolved the case, relying both on the waivers in Chaney’s plea agreement and the fact that Chaney’s sentences were not so intertwined as to trigger the sentencing package doctrine.

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