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Ingram v. United States

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

August 2, 2019

Michael Ingram Petitioner - Appellant
v.
United States of America Respondent - Appellee

          Submitted: January 14, 2019

          Appeal from United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa - Sioux City.

          Before SMITH, Chief Judge, COLLOTON and ERICKSON, Circuit Judges.

          Smith, Chief Judge.

         Michael Ingram appeals the district court's[1] denial of his 28 U.S.C. § 2255 motion, which seeks relief from the mandatory minimum sentence imposed for his 2008 conviction for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute crack cocaine. Ingram's mandatory minimum sentence was doubled from 10 years to 20 years, pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 851, based on a prior felony drug conviction. The district court granted a certificate of appealability on whether imposition of the § 851 enhancement in Ingram's case violated his Fifth Amendment rights to equal protection and due process ("equal protection/selective prosecution claim"). Ingram bases that claim on the geographical disparity in the application of § 851 enhancements between the Northern District of Iowa and other districts. Because we hold that Ingram's § 2255 motion was untimely, we affirm the district court's denial of habeas relief.

         I. Background[2]

         In October 2007, the government charged Ingram with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine that contained a cocaine base, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(A), and 846. In February 2008, the government filed a notice that it would seek an enhanced sentence under 21 U.S.C. § 851 based on Ingram's prior felony drug conviction in Illinois. The notice identified Ingram's prior conviction as one for "[m]anufacture/delivery of controlled substance, in Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, on or about October 24, 2001, in case number 01CR2195101."

         The jury found Ingram guilty of the charged offense. The district court scheduled Ingram's sentencing for June 16, 2008. Before sentencing, the probation officer provided the parties with a presentence investigation report (PSR). The PSR scored Ingram's sentence on the basis of a prior felony conviction, computed Ingram's guideline range to be 168 to 210 months (14 to 17.5 years), but noted Ingram's mandatory minimum sentence with the prior conviction enhancement was 240 months (20 years).

         At the sentencing hearing, the court denied the government's request for a sentencing enhancement. The court concluded that the government's evidence inconsistently identified the purported statute of conviction. The government put some documents into the record that identified the offense as a violation of 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 570/401(D). But, the government asserted Ingram violated a different statute-720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 570/401(d). The court postponed sentencing to allow a government appeal.

         On appeal, the government argued the district court erred in determining the government had not proven Ingram's prior penalty-enhancing felony drug conviction. This court remanded on the sentencing enhancement. United States v. Ingram, 309 F. App'x 66, 68 (8th Cir. 2009).

         On remand, the district court held an evidentiary hearing. Following the hearing, the court found the government had proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Ingram had previously been convicted of a felony drug offense and imposed a sentence of 240 months (20 years). Ingram appealed. On February 10, 2010, this court affirmed Ingram's conviction and sentence. Ingram, 594 F.3d at 981.

         Thereafter, on June 15, 2010, Ingram filed a petition for writ of certiorari. On October 4, 2010, the Supreme Court denied that petition. Ingram v. United States, 562 U.S. 888 (2010).

         On August 27, 2014, Ingram filed his § 2255 motion asserting, among other things, his equal protection/selective prosecution claim. The government moved to dismiss the § 2255 motion as untimely. Ingram did not dispute that his § 2255 motion was filed more than one year after the denial of his petition for writ of certiorari. See 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f)(1). However, he argued that his § 2255 motion was timely pursuant to a different "triggering" provision, 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f)(4). That section provides that the one-year period runs from "the date on which the facts supporting the claim or claims presented could have been discovered through the exercise of due diligence." Id. Ingram asserted that it was not until the publication of United States v. Young, 960 F.Supp.2d 881 (N.D. Iowa 2013), that he learned of the substantial disparity in the imposition of § 851 enhancements between the Northern District of Iowa and other federal districts. According to Ingram, because he was an incarcerated person, he could not have discovered the information on which Young was based. He argued that a reasonable period of time had to elapse between the filing of Young, its appearance in the prison library system, and his discovery of Young. In summary, he maintained that his § 2255 motion incorporated claims based on new facts concerning the disparity disclosed in Young and that those claims were timely filed just over a year after the filing of Young.

         The district court held that Ingram's claims concerning the constitutionality of § 851 were timely under § 2255(f)(4). First, the district court concluded that Ingram proved the existence of new facts based on Young. In that decision, the district court "point[ed] out that the Sentencing Commission's 'first and only, additional targeted coding and analysis project on nationwide application of 21 U.S.C. § 851 recidivist enhancements [was] as part of the Report To The Congress: Mandatory Minimum Penalties In The Federal Criminal Justice System (Commission's 2011 Report).'" Ingram v. United States, No. C 14-4071-MWB, 2016 WL 538468, at *7 (N.D. Iowa Feb. 9, 2016) (second alteration in original) (quoting Young, 960 F.Supp.2d at 892). The court noted that the Sentencing ...


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