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United States v. Hintsala

United States District Court, D. Oregon

December 12, 2019




         Defendant, Harry Hintsala, filed a Motion to Vacate or Correct Sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 [ECF 48]. The United States responded. Gov't. Resp. [ECF 74]. For reasons explained below, Mr. Hintsala's § 2255 motion is DENIED for failing to state a claim.


         Mr. Hintsala was found guilty of five counts of Abusive Sexual Contact, following a stipulated facts trial on May 9, 2012. Verdict [ECF 36] at 1; Min. of Proceedings [ECF 37]. I sentenced him to twenty-four months in prison on each count, consecutively, for a total of 120 months-10 years-in prison. J. & Commitment [ECF 42] at 2. That judgment was entered on June 29, 2012.

         Mr. Hintsala did not file any other substantive pleadings following his conviction until June 26, 2019, when he filed the § 2255 motion at issue here. Def.'s Mot. [48]. This filing comes seven years after Mr. Hintsala's conviction was entered. In it, he asserts four claims for relief: actual innocence, ineffective assistance of counsel, prosecutorial misconduct, and judicial bias. Def.'s Mot. [48] at 5-9.[1] As explained below, none of Mr. Hintsala's claims provide grounds for relief under § 2255.


         A person in custody under federal law may move to have his sentence vacated on one of four grounds: (1) the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, (2) the court was without jurisdiction to impose such sentence, (3) the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law, or (4) the sentence is otherwise subject to collateral attack. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). A prisoner may bring a claim asserting ineffective assistance of counsel under the Sixth Amendment for the first time on a § 2255 motion to vacate. U.S. v. Span, 75 F.3d 1383, 1386-87 (9th Cir. 1996).


         I. Waiver of Collateral Attack

         Mr. Hintsala was convicted following a stipulated facts trial, which required him to sign a Sentencing Agreement ("the Agreement"). [ECF 35]. In the Agreement, Mr. Hintsala waived "the right to file any collateral attack, including a motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, challenging any aspect of the conviction or sentence on any grounds, except on grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel." Sentencing Agreement [35] at 4. Three of Mr. Hintsala's claims for relief in this petition are barred by the Agreement-actual innocence, prosecutorial misconduct, and judicial bias. Mr. Hintsala does not explain why his waiver would not bar these claims, and a knowing and voluntary waiver of the right to appeal is enforceable. See U.S. v. Abarca, 985 F.2d 1012, 1014 (9th Cir. 1993). I therefore hold that, as an initial matter, Mr. Hintsala relinquished his right to bring claims alleging prosecutorial misconduct and judicial bias, and those claims are DISMISSED without farther discussion.

         Arguably, Mr. Hintsala also waived his right to bring his claim for actual innocence, but I will consider that claim on its merits, at least to a limited extent. A claim of actual innocence is treated as somewhat distinct from other claims that may be brought on collateral attack. Murray v. Carrier, 477 U.S. 478, 496 (1986) ("[I]n an extraordinary case, where a constitutional violation has probably resulted in the conviction of one who is actually innocent, a federal habeas court may grant the writ even in the absence of a showing of cause for the procedural default."). Additionally, in this case, Mr. Hintsala asserts an actual innocence claim as grounds to excuse his procedural default in bringing this petition more than one year after his conviction was final. I therefore consider the claim, at least for that limited purpose.

         II. Statute of Limitations

         A defendant seeking relief under § 2255 must file his petition within one year of the date on which the judgment of conviction becomes final. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f)(1). If a defendant does not seek direct appeal, a judgment of conviction becomes final once the deadline for filing a notice of appeal has expired. U.S. v. Gilbert, 807 F.3d 1197, 1200 (9th Cir. 2015). Here, the court entered Mr. Hintsala's judgment on June 29, 2012. J. & Commitment [42]. Mr. Hintsala then had 14 days to file a notice of appeal, which means that his judgment of conviction was final on July 15, 2012. Fed. R. App. P. 4(b)(1)(A). His § 2255 petition is therefore in default of the statute of limitations by approximately seven years. Def.'s Mot. [48] at 1 ("Filed 6/26/19").

         Mr. Hintsala provides two reasons why this court should excuse his default. First, he argues that his actual innocence provides him grounds for relief. Def.'s Mot. [48] at 34. Second, he argues that his defense attorney's ineffective assistance provides grounds for tolling the statute of limitations. Id. at 35. For the reasons provided below, I hold that neither of these reasons provides grounds ...

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