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District Court Abused Its Discretion in Denying 2255 Motion

United States v. Jackson Docket: 20-35592, Opinion Date: January 3, 2022. Jackson pleaded guilty to conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking in exchange for the government’s promise to recommend a sentencing range of 120–180 months’ imprisonment. Despite assuring the court during the plea colloquy that there was no “side agreement,” Jackson later argued that he relied on the government’s oral promise that it would not offer his codefendant (Young) a lesser sentence. Young was offered a 90-month sentence. Jackson also claimed ineffective assistance based on his attorney’s failure to ensure that the government’s oral promise was made a part of the record. The district court denied Jackson’s 28 U.S.C. 2255 motion. The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part, first holding that Jackson’s notice of appeal was valid because his requests for a certificate of appealability, received before the FRAP 4(a)(1)(B) deadline, made clear his intention to appeal; his 2255 motion was not an improper “second or successive” motion because the underlying factual circumstances did not occur until after an earlier 2255 motion was resolved. The record was not sufficient to overcome the presumption that Jackson’s written plea agreement and his sworn plea colloquy statements described the complete agreement. Jackson’s claim was also barred by a collateral attack waiver. The district court abused its discretion by failing to consider Jackson’s pro se letter as a request to amend his section 2255 motion to add a claim of ineffective assistance. #appeal #2255motion

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