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United States v. Wendfeldt

United States District Court, D. Nevada

April 3, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
ALBERT THOMAS WENDFELDT, Defendant.

ORDER

LARRY R. HICKS, District Judge.

Before the Court is Defendant Albert Thomas Wendfeldt's ("Wendfeldt") Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Doc. #36.[1] The United States filed a Response (Doc. #40), to which Wendfeldt did not reply.

I. Factual Background

On August 10, 2011, Wendfeldt was indicted by a federal grand jury on one count of Possession With Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(A)(viii). Doc. #1. On August 30, 2011, federal public defender Cynthia S. Hahn ("Hahn") was appointed counsel for Wendfeldt. Doc. #11. On February 2, 2012, Wendfeldt withdrew his previous plea of not guilty and entered a plea of guilty. Doc. #20. In the Plea Agreement, Wendfeldt stipulated to the following:

A Nevada Highway Patrol officer conducted a traffic stop of the defendant's vehicle on Interstate 80 on July 11, 2011. After a drug detection dog alerted on the defendant's vehicle, a search warrant was obtained for the vehicle. During a search of the vehicle trunk, the officer found approximately 65 grams of actual methamphetamine and three firearms. These items were found in locked containers.

Doc. #21, p. 5. On May 11, 2012, the Court entered judgment against Wendfeldt and sentenced him to a mandatory minimum of 120 months' imprisonment to be followed by five years' supervised release. Doc. #26.

On April 22, 2013, Wendfeldt, acting pro se, timely filed the present Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 before the Court. Doc. #36. Pursuant to the Court's May 9, 2013 Order (Doc. #38), the United States filed a Response on June 24, 2013. Doc. #40.

II. Legal Standard

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, a prisoner may move the court to vacate, set aside, or correct a sentence if "the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, or... the court was without jurisdiction to impose such sentence, or... the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law, or is otherwise subject to collateral attack." 28 U.S.C. § 2255; 2 Randy Hertz & James S. Liebman, Federal Habeas Corpus Practice and Procedure § 41.3b (5th ed. 2005). In his Motion, Wendfeldt asserts three grounds for relief:

(1) conviction obtained by use of coerced confession; (2) conviction obtained by use of evidence gained pursuant to an unconstitutional search and seizure; and (3) denial of effective assistance of counsel. See Doc. #36, pp. 13-14.

III. Discussion

A. Use of Coerced Confession

Wendfeldt may not collaterally challenge his sentence on this ground because he expressly waived his right to do so in the plea agreement, which provides:

The defendant waives all collateral challenges, including any claims under 28, United States Code, Section 2255, to his conviction, sentence and the procedure by which the Court adjudicated guilt and imposed sentence, except ...

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