United States District Court, D. Nevada
ORDER DENYING MOTION TO VACATE SENTENCE AND GRANTING
MOTION TO DISMISS (ECF NOS. 421, 434)
P. GORDON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Billy Steffey believes his attorney botched his case
(although he does not explain how). He moves to vacate his
sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255.
motion is meritless because he provides no facts to support
any of his arguments. He provides only vague legal
contentions, such as that his attorney "did not explore
all avenues" of his case. Without any facts to support
his arguments, it is impossible to afford Steffey any relief.
But even if he has provided some bases for his claims, he
waited too long to challenge his sentence. Steffey is
time-barred under § 2255 from challenging his sentence.
I thus deny his motion and grant the government's motion
pleaded guilty to participating in a massive credit card
racketeering scheme and was sentenced on August 7,
2014. He did not appeal. There was a discrepancy
between the amount of restitution in Steffey's judgment
and the amount that he had agreed to. So I entered an amended
judgment with the proper amount of restitution in April
over a year after his original judgment, on April 15, 2016,
Steffey filed his motion to vacate under §
2255. The government, in turn, moved to dismiss
because Steffey waited too long to challenge his
Steffey's motion to vacate fails.
motion to vacate first fails because he provides no factual
basis for any of his arguments. His motion is a collection of
conclusory legal arguments reiterating that his attorney was
ineffective, but without any fact explaining how. This would
be enough to deny his motion.
Steffey's motion is also barred because it is untimely.
He failed to challenge his sentence within one year of the
expiration of the deadline to file his appeal, as required by
28 U.S.C. § 2255. After a defendant exhausts his direct
appeal, his ability to challenge his sentence is severely
limited. Among other things, § 2255 required that
Steffey challenge his sentence within one year from the date
that his time to file a direct appeal expired. Steffey's
deadline to file his direct appeal expired in
2014. Because he filed his challenge in 2016,
his motion is untimely.
contends that his deadline should be tolled for two reasons:
(1) some other things happened in this case after his
original judgment, which should delay the deadline, and (2)
he was diligent in filing his motion but was prevented from
doing so by outside circumstances.
first argument fails because nothing that happened in this
case is a valid basis for tolling § 2255's filing
deadline. Although a minor adjustment was made to the
restitution amount in his judgment, the Ninth Circuit has
made clear that this does not toll the deadline. In U.S.
v. Gilbert, the Ninth Circuit explained that because
defendants can challenge only their conviction under
§ 2255-not the amount of restitution they must
pay-"it would make no sense to let [defendants] restart
the statute of limitations under § 2255 from an amended
judgment that addressed only the specific amount of
Steffey shown that he was diligent in filing his motion to
vacate and that some extreme circumstance preventing him from
doing so. I may equitably toll § 2255's one-year
deadline if (1) Steffey has "been pursuing his rights
diligently, " and (2) "some extraordinary
circumstance" prevented him from filing his motion on
time. "[T]he threshold necessary to
trigger equitable tolling ... is very
high." "[A] pro se petitioner's lack
of legal sophistication is not, by itself, an extraordinary
circumstance warranting equitable
has shown neither that he was diligent in pursuing his rights
or that some extraordinary impediment prevented him from
filing his motion. Although Steffey asked for an attorney to
help him with his § 2255 filing, he has no right to
counsel at this stage and he was able to file other motions
with the court-so this would not explain why he did not file
his § 2255 motion earlier. Steffey claims to have been
housed in a "special housing unit, " but he does
not explain how this prevented him from filing his motion.
Indeed, Steffey was able to file other letters with the court