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United States v. Jett

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

April 15, 2015

United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee
v.
Michael Robert Jett, Defendant - Appellant

Submitted January 12, 2015

Appeal from United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri - Springfield.

For United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee: Philip M. Koppe, Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Kansas City, MO; Gary K. Milligan, Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Springfield, MO.

For Michael Robert Jett, Defendant - Appellant: Nathan Duncan, DOUGLAS & HAUN, Bolivar, MO.

Michael Robert Jett, Defendant - Appellant, Pro se, Fort Worth, TX.

Before SMITH, BENTON, and SHEPHERD, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 1051

SHEPHERD, Circuit Judge.

Michael Jett pled guilty to one count of making a false claim against the government, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 287. After sentencing, Jett moved to have his sentence vacated and/or corrected pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 35(a), arguing he received ineffective assistance of counsel and thus an improperly high sentence because his sentencing counsel failed to raise various mitigating factors. The district court[1] denied Jett's motion. Jett now appeals that denial, arguinghis case should be remanded for resentencing. Because Rule 35(a) may not be used to vacate and amend a sentence based on a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, we affirm the district court's denial of Jett's motion.

I. Background

In December 2013, Jett was charged with one count of making a false claim against the government for filing false or fraudulent tax returns. Jett pled guilty to the count. In his plea agreement, Jett expressly waived his right to appeal his sentence, directly or collaterally, on any ground except claims of ineffective assistance of counsel, prosecutorial misconduct, or an illegal sentence.[2]

The district court sentenced Jett to 24 months imprisonment with 3 years supervised release. After sentencing, but before he was taken into custody, Jett filed a Rule 35(a) motion, asking the district court to vacate and/or correct his sentence based on his claim that he received ineffective assistance of counsel at sentencing. The district court considered the merits of Jett's motion and denied it, noting that Jett's sentencing counsel filed relevant motions that addressed the precise issues he claimed his counsel failed to address and that the court thoroughly considered the information in those motions in determining the appropriate sentence. Jett now appeals the district court's merits decision, again arguing his case should be remanded for resentencing because he received ineffective assistance of counsel.

II. Discussion

Though Jett's argument focuses on the merits of his ineffective assistance claim, we must first consider whether he could properly bring this claim under Rule 35(a). We review questions of law presented in Rule 35 motions de novo. Un ...


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