By Caroline Daniel

In United States v. Simmons, an unpublished criminal opinion released today, the Fourth Circuit denied Defendant Derrick Simmons’ (“Simmons”) application for a certificate of appealability on the dismissal of his 28 U.S.C. § 2255 motion.

Simmons Sought Certificate of Appealability

Simmons made a motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, which was dismissed by the district court for untimeliness.  The district court also denied Simmons motion for reconsideration.  Accordingly, Simmons sought to appeal these orders, which required the Fourth Circuit to grant a certificate of appealability based on 28 U.S.C. § 2253 (c)(1)(B).

Requirements for a Certificate of Appealability

In reaching its conclusion, the Fourth Circuit explained that there must be “a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right” in order for a certificate of appealability to be granted.  28 U.S.C. § 2253 (c)(2).  The standard for granting a certificate of appealability differs based on whether the motion was denied on substantive or procedural grounds.

In order to receive a certificate of appealability for a motion denied on substantive grounds, the appellant must show that “reasonable jurists” would find that the district court’s “assessment of the constitutional claims” to be problematic.  On the other hand, in order to receive a certificate of appealability for a motion denied on procedural grounds, the appellant must show that “both the dispositive procedural ruling is debatable, and that the motion states a debatable claim of the denial of a constitutional right.”

Simmons Lacked Requisite Showing – Certificate Denied

In this case, Simmons’ motions were denied on substantive and procedural grounds.  After studying the record, the Fourth Circuit found that Simmons had not met the required burden for either.  The Court denied his certificate of appealability, and declined to hear oral argument on the subject.

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