Eleventh Circuit Rejects Federal Prisoner’s Request to Raise New Arguments Unrelated to Errors Corrected at Resentencing on a Direct Appeal of the Resentencing

In United States v. Haynes, Nos. 12-12689 & 12-13244 (Aug. 22, 2014), the Eleventh Circuit declined to vacate a federal prisoner’s sentences based on errors that the prisoner invited the district court to ignore and that are wholly unrelated to the error corrected during resentencing.

In two separate trials, Ricky Douglas Haynes, Jr., a federal prisoner, was initially indicted on a three-count indictment, that included “one count of possessing a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon, 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)” and then on a two-count indictment. After pleading guilty to all five counts, he was sentenced as a career offender at another hearing and raised no objections to being sentenced under career offender enhancements. He did unsuccessfully object however to qualifying for an enhanced sentence under the Armed Career Criminal Act, 18 U.S.C. § 924(e).

Haynes appealed the sentences, and “appointed counsel argued that Haynes was no longer eligible for an enhancement under the [Armed Career Criminal] Act, but that Haynes nevertheless remained eligible for the career-offender enhancement under the guidelines.” Acting pro se, Haynes successfully “filed a motion to vacate his sentence, 28 U.S.C. § 2255, which the district court granted, in part because his sentence for possession of a firearm and ammunition as a convicted felon, 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) exceeded the 10-year statutory maximum, id. § 924(a)(2).” On the other hand, “[t]he district court ruled that Haynes procedurally defaulted his argument that he was not a career offender because he failed to raise that argument in his direct appeal.” The court resentenced only the count of possession of a firearm and ammunition as a convicted felon under the three-count indictment. At the resentencing hearing, defense counsel “acknowledged that ‘obviously’ the court was ‘not going to touch . . . the two-count indictment.” The court restructured the sentence, and “Haynes reasserted his objection that he was erroneously sentence as a career offender,” but acknowledged that the objection would have no effect.

Haynes consolidated his cases, appealed his sentences and sought to be sentenced without the career-offender enhancement.  He requested resentencing on the two-count indictment, although he had not objected to only being resentenced on the three-count indictment previously. Instead “Haynes invited the court to limit the resentencing proceedings to” the three-count indictment “[a]nd defense counsel herself proposed the amended sentence lengths.” The Court, quoting United States v. Ross, 131 F.3d 970, 988 (11th Cir. 1997), explained that “[i]t is a cardinal rule of appellate review that a party may not challenge as error a ruling or other trial proceeding invited by that party.” Thus the Eleventh Circuit “decline[d] to review the alleged errors.”

The court concluded by noting that regardless of whether Haynes had invited this resentencing, “a resentencing court has the discretion to limit resentencing to the ‘appropriate’ relief granted in order to . . . correct the prisoner’s sentence. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(b)” and without evidence of abuse of discretion by the resentencing court, the resentencing will be deemed “appropriate.” Thus the sentence was affirmed.

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