United States v. Hassebrock, No. 20-3328 (7th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
Hassebrock, having served his sentence for tax crimes, appealed from the denial of his petition for a writ of coram nobis. He had argued ineffective assistance, that trial errors undermined the validity of his conviction, and that Congress lacked authority to impose criminal penalties for tax code violations. The court dismissed the petition as an unauthorized successive habeas petition,
The Seventh Circuit affirmed, first holding that it had jurisdiction. The separate judgment requirement of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 58 applies to coram nobis petitions. The district court here did not file a separate judgment. Hassebrock’s notice of appeal, filed within 60 days of the 150-day window, was, therefore timely. On the merits, the court concluded that although Hassebrock is no longer ‘in custody’ and meets the criterion, he is not entitled to coram nobis relief. The writ is available only in “extraordinary cases” when there is an error so fundamental as to render the conviction invalid, there are sound reasons for the failure to seek relief earlier, and the petitioner continues to suffer from his conviction. Hassebrock could have raised all his arguments either on direct appeal or in his previous section 2255 motion, and he offered no reason for failing to do so. The primary argument he raises in his coram nobis petition—ineffective assistance of counsel—was rejected in his section 2255 motion.