United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
NATHANIEL M. GORTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
August, 2015, this Court dismissed the habeas petition of
Manuel Cintron (“Cintron” or
“defendant”). In December, 2017, the First
Circuit Court of Appeals directed this Court to issue or deny
a certificate of appealability with respect to his petition.
For the following reasons, this Court will deny such a
June, 2009, defendant pled guilty to a two-count indictment
charging him with conspiracy to possess with intent to
distribute cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846 and
possession with intent to distribute cocaine in violation of
21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). In December, 2009, the Court
sentenced defendant to a term of imprisonment of 158 months
followed by six years of supervised release. Defendant
appealed his sentence to the First Circuit Court of Appeals,
contending that it was substantively unreasonable. In
November, 2010, the First Circuit granted the
government's motion for summary disposition, affirming
the judgment of this Court. In December, 2013, Cintron filed
a motion to withdraw his plea of guilty which this Court
denied in February, 2014.
2015, Cintron filed a habeas petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255 challenging his conviction and sentence on
grounds of newly discovered evidence. Specifically, Cintron
alleged that the investigation of the “Hinton
Laboratory Scandal” was still underway and that the
government had failed to produce “all discovery of
defendant[s] that have been affected”. The government
opposed that petition, contending that the § 2255
petition was time-barred and that the doctrine of equitable
tolling did not apply. The government also suggested that the
§ 2255 petition failed on its merits because (1) the
defendant was sentenced as a career offender and not based
upon drug weight and (2) chemist Annie Dookhan was the
“secondary” on only two of the six drug
certifications in the case.
August, 2015, this Court entered an order denying the §
2255 petition “[b]ecause the petition is time barred
and also because it fails on the merits”. Cintron filed
his notice of appeal in October, 2015 and a motion to appoint
counsel in February, 2016. On December 26, 2017, the First
Circuit requested that this Court promptly issue or deny a
certificate of appealability.
2253(c) of Title 28 of the United States Code provides that a
Certificate of Appealability may issue “only if the
applicant has made a substantial showing of the denial of a
constitutional right.” 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2). In
order to make a “substantial showing, ” a
petitioner seeking a Certificate of Appealability must
reasonable jurists could debate whether (or, for that matter,
agree that) the petition should have been resolved in a
different manner or that the issues presented were adequate
to deserve encouragement to proceed further.
v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484 (2000). To meet the
debatable-among-jurists-of-reason standard the petitioner
must prove “something more than the absence of
frivolity or the existence of mere good faith.”
Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 338 (2003).
fails to demonstrate that “reasonable jurists could
debate” whether his petition for writ of habeas corpus
should have been decided differently. Slack, 529
U.S. at 484. First, Cintron's petition is time-barred by
the one-year statute of limitations. 28 U.S.C. §
2255(f). Cintron's petition relies on the misconduct of
Annie Dookhan at the Hinton State Laboratory Institute but he
failed to file his petition within one year of discovering
that evidence. The doctrine of equitable tolling does not
apply here because Cintron does not provide any factual
allegations supporting his claim that the government withheld
discovery related to the Hinton Laboratory scandal. See
Trenkler v. United States, 268 F.3d 16, 25 (1st Cir.
2008) (stating that equitable tolling is reserved for
“exceptional cases” and not where the claimant
“simply failed to exercise due diligence in preserving
his legal rights”). Furthermore, Cintron's petition
fails on the merits. Dookhan was involved in only two of the
six drug certifications in this case and even if the Court
were to exclude the drug weight of those two convictions, the
relevant guideline range would remain the same.
the motion for a certificate of appealability with respect to