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MITCHELL v. U.S.

August 23, 2005.

ALDO MITCHELL, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOHN KEENAN, Senior District Judge

OPINION and ORDER

Before the Court is the petition of Aldo Mitchell ("Mitchell") to vacate, set aside or correct his sentence, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. For the reasons that follow, the petition is dismissed as untimely.

Background

  Mitchell was charged in Counts One, Two, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, and Ten of a superseding twelve-count indictment filed on January 12, 2000.

  Count One charged Mitchell and others with conducting and participating in the affairs of a racketeering enterprise, namely, the "148th Street Organization" from the late 1980's through June 1999, through a pattern of racketeering activity that included murders, attempted murders, robberies, extortion and narcotics offenses, in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO"), 18 U.S.C. § 1962(c). Count Two charged Mitchell and others with RICO conspiracy, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d).

  Counts Four through Eight charged Mitchell and others with various offenses in connection with a July 4, 1997 attempted robbery and shooting of Eric Connor, a drug dealer. Count Four charged the defendants with assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, in violation of 18 U.S.C §§ 1959(a)(3) and 2. Count Five charged the defendants with attempted murder in aid of racketeering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1959(a)(5) and 2. Count Six charged the defendants with conspiracy to commit robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951. Count Seven charged the defendants with attempted robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1951 and 2. Count Eight charged the defendants with using and carrying a firearm in connection with a crime of violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C §§ 924(c) and 2.

  Count Ten charged Mitchell and others with conspiring to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and cocaine base ("crack") from the late 1980's through June 1990, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 812, 841(b)(1)(A) and 846.

  On July 28, 2000, after an eleven-week trial, a jury convicted Mitchell on Count Two (RICO conspiracy) and Counts Six and Seven (conspiracy to commit robbery and attempted robbery).*fn1 The jury failed to reach a verdict on Counts One, Four, Five and Ten and acquitted Mitchell on Count Eight. On March 26, 2001, the Court sentenced Mitchell to a total of 360 months in prison, to be followed by three years' supervised release. The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed Mitchell's conviction on November 21, 2002. United States v. Mitchell, 51 Fed. Appx. 355 (2d Cir. 2002). Mitchell's co-defendant, Irving Mason, was convicted on the same day of several counts in the indictment. The Court sentenced Mason to thirty years' imprisonment as well. See Mason v. United States, No 04 Civ. 2198(JFK), 2005 WL 1902776 at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 9, 2005). The Court of Appeals affirmed Mason's conviction in Mitchell, cited in the preceding paragraph. Mason petitioned the Supreme Court of the United States for a writ of certiorari. The Court denied the petition on March 24, 2003. Mason v. United States, 538 U.S. 939 (2003). Mason's certiorari petition is important for reasons that soon will become clear.

  Mitchell sent a letter to this Court dated December 13, 2003, requesting that counsel be appointed to assist him with respect to the viability and advisability of filing a § 2255 motion. (London Aff., Exh. A). On January 7, 2004, the Court assigned James Roth, Esq. as counsel to Mitchell under the Criminal Justice Act ("CJA"). On June 15, 2004, Mr. Roth informed the Court that he was required to withdraw from the case because of a conflict. (Id., Exh. C). By Order dated June 30, 2004, the Court assigned Joyce London, Esq. as Mitchell's new CJA counsel. Mr. Roth notified Mitchell of his withdrawal as counsel by letter dated July 29, 2004. (Id., Exh. D).

  Ms. London claims that she tried to gather information about Mitchell's case during July and August 2004, but without success. (Id. ¶ 12-13). On August 3, 2004, the Court's Deputy faxed Ms. London, at her request, a copy of Mitchell's judgment and conviction. (Id., Exh. H). Ms. London claims that the fax was sent on August 23, 2004, (Id. ¶ 13), but the fax cover sheet clearly is marked "8-3-04." In any event, Ms. London apparently had not notified Mitchell of her efforts because on August 17, 2004, Mitchell informed the Court by letter that he had not heard from Ms. London and that he wished to preserve his § 2255 rights. (Id., Exh. F). On August 20, 2004, Ms. London left New York for vacation. Ms. London claims that she did not see the facsimile from the Court until sometime after the date of her return, September 8, 2004. On September 16, 2004, the Court forwarded Mitchell's letter from August 17, 2004 to Ms. London. On September 20, 2004, Ms. London contacted Mitchell. She claims that she tried to get Mitchell's files from his previous lawyers, but again without success. Complicating the project was the fact that the office of Mitchell's trial counsel was destroyed on September 11, 2001. On November 2, 2004, Ms. London filed Mitchell's § 2255 petition. (Id. ¶¶ 13-19).

  Mitchell alleges in his petition that (1) his sentence on Counts Two, Seven and Eight was unconstitutional under Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296 (2004), and (2) the inclusion of relevant conduct in his Guidelines sentencing calculation was tainted by the failure of the prosecution to disclose evidence favorable to him. (Mitchell Br. at 4). The Government opposes the petition and urges the Court to dismiss the petition as untimely because Mitchell filed the petition after the expiration of the one year limitations period established by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act ("AEDPA"). (Gov't Br. at 16-19).

  Discussion

  The first issue is whether Mitchell's § 2255 petition was timely. The one-year AEDPA statute of limitations began to run on the date that Mitchell's conviction became final. See 28 U.S.C. 2255(1). Mitchell contends that his conviction became final on March 24, 2003, which is the date that the Supreme Court denied "[h]is" certiorari petition, and that he had until March 23, 2004 to file his § 2255 petition. (Mitchell Br. at 13). Mitchell concedes that his petition missed the deadline, but he argues that the limitations period should be equitably tolled.

  In calculating the filing deadline, Mitchell's counsel assumes that the Supreme Court denied certiorari petitions with respect to Mason and Mitchell. According to the Supreme Court and Second Circuit dockets, this is not so. Mason's Supreme Court docket reflects a certiorari denial on March 24, 2003. (See infra, page A.2). His Second Circuit docket shows receipt of the Supreme Court's Order on March 27, 2003. (See infra, page A.3-6). By contrast, Mitchell's name appears nowhere in the Supreme Court docket, and neither his Second Circuit docket nor the Second Circuit docket for the consolidated case shows a Supreme Court order denying certiorari as to Mitchell. (See infra, page A.7-10, A.11-27). This Court has consulted the appropriate clerks at the Supreme Court and the Second Circuit, and they have confirmed this information. The Court ...


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