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STRAWHORN v. U.S.

August 13, 2004.

JERRY STRAWHORN, Petitioner,
v.
U.S., Respondent.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: HARRY LEINENWEBER, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Petitioner Jerry Strawhorn (hereinafter, "Strawhorn"), pro se, petitions the Court under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct his sentence.

I. BACKGROUND

  On May 9, 1997, a jury convicted Strawhorn on all counts relating to his involvement with the Gangster Disciples (the "GDs") street gang, including drug conspiracy charges pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 846, and operating a continuing criminal enterprise pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 848. On July 9, 1998, the Court sentenced Strawhorn to numerous concurrent terms of life imprisonment.

  On April 12, 2001, Strawhorn appealed to the Seventh Circuit and the District Court's decision was affirmed. Subsequently Strawhorn filed a petition for certiorari with the United States Supreme Court, which was denied on June 28, 2002.

  On June 12, 2003, Strawhorn filed his § 2255 petition. Strawhorn's petition puts forth 26 claims. Many of these factual situations have come up in the habeas corpus petitions of other GDs and the Court has held that these situations did not prejudice the petitioners. Strawhorn does not sufficiently demonstrate why the Court should rule differently here.

  Strawhorn's claims can be regrouped around five distinct claims which Strawhorn believes entitle him to relief under § 2255:

  1. Strawhorn's trial counsel proved constitutionally ineffective for multiple reasons. This is a multifaceted claim which several distinct errors by trial counsel, including:

 
a. failing to notify Strawhorn that she was facing Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary (the "ARDC") charges before the jury's verdict;
b. failing to negotiate a plea for petitioner;
c. misadvising Strawhorn that he must go to trial;
d. misinforming petitioner that taking the stand was his ultimate decision to make;
e. failing to prepare petitioner to take witness stand in his own defense;
f. failing to secure testimony that would have exculpated petitioner from intimidation charges;
g. failing to file particularized motions leading to discoverable evidence;
h. failing to communicate with Strawhorn prior, during, and after trial and before sentencing was imposed;
i. failing to object to misrepresentations in the pre-sentence report; j. failing to object to use of intimidation charge to add one point to Strawhorn's Criminal History Score;
k. failing to discuss pre-sentence report with Strawhorn before his sentencing, in violation of FED. R. CRIM. PRO. 32;
l. failing to actively participate in compilation of jury instructions;
m. failing to challenge the allegations based on vicarious liability for acts committed by other gang members;
n. failing to investigate Strawhorn's financial situation to rebut presumption that Strawhorn derived substantial income from illegal activities; and
o. failing to submit tapes where Strawhorn's voice was in question to a voice stress analysis to determine true speaker;
  2. Strawhorn's appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to object to ineffective trial counsel;

  3. The Court did not have sufficient evidence to convict Strawhorn of conspiracy pursuant to § 848;

  4. The Court denied him a fair sentence when it used his past convictions for unlawful use of a weapon and intimidation to determine his current sentence; and

  5. Strawhorn was unfairly prejudiced by pre-trial publicity.

  II. STATEMENT OF FACTS

  Larry Hoover, Tirenzy Wilson, Gregory Shell, Jerry Strawhorn, Adrian Bradd, Darrell Branch, Andrew Howard, and William Edwards were charged and convicted in 1998 of numerous offenses relating to their participation in activities of the GDs, a large street gang that sold sizable quantities of cocaine, heroin, and other drugs. In total, the gang's receipts from illegal activity totaled more than $100 million per year. Strawhorn served as a "governor" of the GDs, a rank that placed him in charge of the ...


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