11th Circuit: District Court Must Rule on All 2255 Claims: Amalfitano
Amalfitano's Case and 2255 Claim
Amalfitano pled guilty to possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and possession of stolen firearms. He was sentenced to 87 months imprisonment. He filed a 2255 stating that
“(1) his counsel was ineffective for failing to file a direct appeal; (2) his counsel had overlooked a potential defense to his firearm charge; (3) his counsel was not properly prepared at his sentencing hearing; and (4) the district court had violated his right to due process by basing his sentence on inaccurate or unreliable information.”
The District court granted the motion in part but “only to the extent that [Amalfitano] may file a belated appeal in the related criminal case.” The district court vacated the judgment and issued an amended judgment imposing the same sentence so that Amalfitano could file a notice of appeal. The district court did not rule on the other claims.
11th Circuit: All Claims Must Be Ruled On
The Eleventh Circuit indicated that in their previous caselaw, a district court is to rule on all claims for relief in a Habeas petition regardless of whether relief is granted or denied. The court indicated that they have also ruled that in cases where the movant is eititled to a direct appeal that the “best approach” is for the district court to either “dismiss without prejudice or hold in abeyance the resolution of remaining collateral claims pending the direct appeal.”
The court put these ideas together and indicated that:
Thus, although the district court was correct to not reach the merits of Amalfitano's three remaining § 2255 claims, the district court did err in failing to address whether it was dismissing those claims without prejudice or holding them in abeyance pending the resolution of the direct appeal. Accordingly, we vacate the district court's order in part and remand for the limited purpose of having the district court dismiss Amalfitano's other claims without prejudice.”
The Eleventh Circuit vacated the ruling of the district court and remanded the case back down for them to decide accordingly. 20-11635.
This sort of ruling is important when filing a 2255 because if you are filing one based on the failure of notice of right to appeal AND other claims then it is important that the court rule on all of your claims, not just the claim about the failure of notification of right to appeal even if the action that the court rules in your favor. This is important to prevent the court from mistaking any motions after the appeal is resolved from possibly being deemed a second or successive 2255.