Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Eleventh Circuit holds Rule 35 Order Did Not Reset Clock on Statute of Limitations for Motion to Vacate Sentence

In Murphy the district court held that its Rule 35(b) order did not reset the clock and dismissed the petitioner’s § 2255 motion. 

The issue before the Eleventh Circuit is whether a district court order reducing a defendant’s sentence pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 35(b) for the defendant’s substantial assistance is a new “judgment of conviction” that resets the one-year statute of limitations for filing a motion to vacate a conviction and sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255.

Previously, the Sixth  Circuit has held that a Rule 35(b) modification does not constitute a new judgment of conviction that restarts § 2255’s statute of limitations clock. See, Reichert v. United States, 101 F. App’x 13, 14 (6th Cir. 2004) “Under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(b), the defendant’s original judgment of conviction remains the final judgment even if his sentence has been modified or reduced as the result of the government filing a Rule 35 motion.”

The court reasoned that because Congress has declared that a Rule 35(b) reduction of a sentence does not affect the finality of a judgment of conviction, and because a Rule 35(b) reduction does not constitute a resentencing where an old sentence is invalidated and replaced with a new one, the statute of limitations need not be reset.

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