United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
GEORGE A. O'TOOLE, Jr., District Judge.
In 2006, pursuant to a written plea agreement (dkt. no. 124), Grant Boyd pled guilty to a superseding indictment charging him with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841, conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846, and conspiracy to launder money in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(h). He was sentenced to a statutory mandatory minimum term of 240 months pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A), with 10 years of supervised release to follow.
The plea agreement reserved to Boyd the right to appeal from the denial of a motion to suppress, but otherwise contained his express waiver of his right to appeal or collaterally challenge his conviction and the sentence that was imposed. The plea agreement provided:
Defendant is aware that he has the right to challenge his sentence and guilty plea on direct appeal. Defendant is also aware that he may, in some circumstances, be able to argue that his plea should be set aside, or his sentence set aside or reduced, in a collateral challenge (such as pursuant to a motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255).
In consideration of the concessions made by the U.S. Attorney in the Agreement, Defendant knowingly and voluntarily waives his right to appeal or collaterally challenge:
(1) Defendant's guilty plea and any other aspect of Defendant's conviction, except the District Court Order denying Defendant's pretrial suppression motion, which appeal is specifically preserved by this Agreement; and
(2) The imposition by the District Court of a sentence which does not exceed that being recommended by the U.S. Attorney pursuant to this agreement.
Defendant's waiver of rights to appeal and to bring collateral challenges shall not apply to appeals or challenges based on new legal principles in First Circuit or Supreme Court cases decided after the date of this Agreement which are held by the First Circuit or Supreme Court to have retroactive effect. This waiver shall also not apply to Defendant's appeal of the District Court's denial of Defendant's motion to suppress evidence, which appeal is specifically preserved by this Agreement.
(Plea Agreement at 5-6 (dkt. no. 124).)
The defendant did appeal the order denying his pretrial suppression motion, but the order was upheld by the Court of Appeals. Notwithstanding his waiver regarding other matters affecting his conviction or sentence, the defendant has filed a petition to vacate his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255.
In his petition, the defendant argues that (1) he did not enter into the agreement to waive his review rights knowingly and voluntarily; (2) he received constitutionally ineffective assistance of counsel; (3) he has a claim of actual innocence because under United States v. Santos , 533 U.S. 507 (2008), his conduct did not violate 18 U.S.C. § 1956(h). By late amendment of his petition, he also claims a violation of due process.
A. Waiver of Review Rights
Waiver of collateral review rights is enforceable if the defendant entered into the agreement "knowingly and voluntarily." United States v. Teeter , 257 F.3d 14, 24 (1st Cir. 2001). Additionally, the court must have "inquire[d] specifically at the change-of-the-plea hearing into any waiver of appellate rights." Id.
Boyd argues that his plea was not knowing or voluntary. This argument is without merit. In the first place, the language of the "Waiver of Rights to Appeal and to Bring Collateral Challenge" was clear and specific. It was not obscure or abrupt boilerplate, but rather was tailored specifically to his situation. It made clear there were some things he could appeal or challenge - the denial of his suppression motion, any sentence above what the government recommended, and any retroactive new rules - and some things he could not - everything else. Boyd signed the letter under an affirmation that he had read ...