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WALLS v. U.S.

July 14, 2004.

DAISY WALLS, Petitioner,
v.
U.S., Respondent.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: DAVID COAR, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Petitioner Daisy Walls' motion to vacate her sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 is before this court. For the following reasons, the court finds that habeas relief is not warranted and denies Walls' motion in its entirety.

I. Background

  A. Walls' Trial and Conviction

  On November 13, 1998, following a jury trial, Walls was convicted of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a substance containing cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846 (Count I), conspiracy to distribute a substance containing cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846 (Count II), and possession with intent to distribute a substance containing cocaine, a Schedule II controlled substance, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) (Count III).

  Walls was represented by Lawrence Wolf Levin at trial. Prior to trial, the defense filed a motion to suppress the evidence of the cocaine. In support of her motion, Walls argued that the privately-employed Federal Express ("FedEx") employees who initially opened the packages containing the cocaine were performing a public, law-enforcement function and, thus, were functionally equivalent to government agents. Walls thus contended that the initial search was subject to the dictates of the Fourth Amendment and further contended that it did not comply therewith. Following a hearing held over the course of two days and some intervening discovery, this court denied the motion.

  Subsequently, the drug evidence was admitted at trial. Numerous government witnesses testified at trial. Walls did not testify at trial.

  B. Relevant Facts*fn1

  On April 22, 1998, FedEx employees in Memphis, Tennessee searched two packages that were addressed to the "Tascam Electrical Supply Company" at 9121 South Colfax in Chicago and discovered cocaine therein. The packages were addressed to the attention of Walls. There is no "Tascam Electrical Supply Company" in Chicago, and 9121 S. Colfax is Walls' private single-family residence. FedEx subsequently notified the Drug Enforcement Agency ("DEA") of its discovery of the cocaine, and the DEA decided to make a "controlled delivery" of the packages to Walls' home. Court-ordered break-wire devices were inserted into the packages to facilitate the agents' tracking of the packages following their delivery.

  The next day, DEA Agent Homer Markhart posed as a FedEx delivery person to make the delivery. He wore a FedEx uniform, drove a FedEx truck to Walls' house, and approached her door with the packages. Markhart testified at trial about Walls' conduct during the delivery, as well as that of several other people in and around the residence at the time. Included in his testimony was his recollection of a young girl yelling, "Mama, your package is here" as he approached the house. See Pet. Br., p. 4. He also testified that after Walls came to the door, she carefully scrutinized his clothing and avoided signing for the packages — first by asking her son, Danielle Walls ("Danielle"), to sign for the packages and ultimately by signing the name of the corporate addressee (rather than her own name). See Pet. Br., p. 5. He also testified that she exclaimed "I'll sign the electric company" before she could have seen the address labels on the packages (because he held the packages with the clipboard on top of them). The defense did not present any evidence to contradict this testimony. See Pet. Br., p. 6.

  The trial testimony established that after Walls had signed for and accepted the packages, Markhart departed from her home. Thereafter, Sharee Williams (Walls' co-defendant) and Danielle exited the rear of the house with the packages and went to a neighboring house. Following a series of events culminating with the cessation of the transmission of the signal from one of the packages (which normally would indicate that the package had been opened), the agents proceeded to the residence to which Williams and Danielle had gone. There they found the unopened packages. The agents then proceeded to Walls' residence, where they knocked, identified themselves, and informed Walls of their investigation. Ultimately, Walls opened the door and stepped back, and the agents stepped inside.*fn2

  Markhart testified that petitioner subsequently invited him and the other agents to talk privately with her in the kitchen. See Pet. Br., p. 6. The agents administered Walls' Miranda rights, which she acknowledged. The government's witnesses, including Markhart, testified that Walls admitted that this was the third time that she had accepted similar packages and that she knew the packages at issue contained cocaine. They further testified that she informed them that the packages belonged to Delano Target, a member of the Gangster Disciples street gang. The defense did not present any evidence to contradict the government's evidence relating to Walls' confession. See Pet. Br., pp. 6-7.

  C. Walls' Post-Trial Motion and Subsequent Appeal

  Following her November 13, 1998 conviction, Walls filed a motion for a new trial on December 4, 1998. The court denied the motion on December 15, 1998. On February 1, 1999, James A. Stamos replaced Mr. Levin as Walls' counsel. On March 18, 1999, this court sentenced Walls to 72 months' imprisonment, pursuant to ...


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