Submitted: May 12, 2017
from United States District Court for the District of North
Dakota - Fargo
SMITH, Chief Judge, COLLOTON and KELLY, Circuit Judges.
Miles Thompson pleaded guilty, pursuant to a written plea
agreement, to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute
methamphetamine and use of a firearm in connection with a
drug trafficking crime. The district court sentenced
Thompson to a term of 480 months' imprisonment on the
drug offense, followed by a consecutive life sentence on the
firearm offense. On direct appeal, we affirmed. Thompson then
filed a motion to vacate his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255. The district court denied the motion, but granted a
certificate of appealability.
facts underlying Thompson's conviction are set forth in
our prior opinion, United States v. Thompson, 770
F.3d 689 (8th Cir. 2014). We repeat those facts here as
relevant for the instant appeal. The day before his trial was
to begin, Thompson notified the court that he intended to
plead guilty. The proposed plea agreement was provided to the
court for review. As pertinent here, the proposed agreement
set forth the mandatory statutory minimum and maximum
penalties for both counts to which Thompson agreed to plead
guilty, and noted that the court would impose "a
sentence sufficient to comply with the purposes set forth in
the Sentencing Reform Act . . . consider[ing] factors set
forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)" after consulting and
taking into account the sentencing guidelines. The agreement
stated that it was binding on the United States Attorney for
the District of North Dakota, but not on the court or the
probation office, and that the court could "depart from
the applicable guidelines range if the Court, on the record,
states factors not contemplated by the Sentencing Guidelines
Commission to justify the departure." The only
sentencing recommendation the government agreed to make was
for a two-level downward adjustment for acceptance of
responsibility; all other sentencing issues were left open.
The written plea agreement contained an integration clause
providing that "no threats, promises, or representations
exist beyond the terms of this plea agreement" and that
"[t]here are no additional terms to the Plea
following morning, Thompson told the court he had changed his
mind and that he intended to go to trial. The district court
questioned Thompson about his decision. Thompson persisted in
his stance that he wanted to go to trial, and his counsel
requested a recess. Following a fifteen-minute recess, the
parties reconvened, and Thompson informed the court he had
decided to plead guilty. He signed the plea agreement in
which he "acknowledge[d] reading and understanding all
provisions of the Plea Agreement" and that he had
discussed and reviewed the agreement with his attorney.
change-of-plea hearing followed immediately. At the hearing,
the court and Thompson had the following colloquy:
THE COURT: Okay. And you understand that by pleading guilty
to Count Two there is a mandatory minimum seven-year sentence
that will be consecutive to the mandatory minimum five-year
sentence on Count One?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes.
THE COURT: And that will be the least amount that the Court
could sentence you. The Court could still sentence you to a
higher amount but the least that they could sentence you to
is that 12 years. Do you understand that?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes.
THE COURT: Yeah, because what I'm saying is there's
no way I could go below that and not violate the law, all