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Chatmon v. United States

July 18, 2007

DELBERT L. CHATMON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, DEFENDANT.



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

MEMORANDUM and ORDER

I. Introduction and Background

Now before the Court is Delbert L. Chatmon's petition/motion for relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. The Government opposes the petition/motion. Having closely examined the record before it, the Court concludes that an evidentiary hearing is not needed in this matter. See Galbraith v. United States, 313 F.3d 1001, 1009 (7th Cir. 2002)("for a hearing to be granted, the petition must be accompanied by a detailed and specific affidavit which shows that the petitioner [has] actual proof of the allegations going beyond mere unsupported assertions"); Menzer v. United States, 200 F.3d 1000, 1005 (7th Cir. 2000)(hearing not required where record conclusively demonstrates that a defendant is entitled to no relief on § 2255 motion); Oliver v. United States, 961 F.2d 1339, 1343 n.5 (7th Cir.)(court need not hold evidentiary hearing to decide § 2255 claims that raise factual matters capable of being resolved on the existing record), cert. denied, 506 U.S. 976 (1992). See also, Rules 4(b) and 8(a) of RULES GOVERNING SECTION 2255PROCEEDINGS FOR THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURTS; Aleman v. United States, 878 F.2d 1009, 1012 (7th Cir. 1989)(judge should dismiss § 2255 petition without hearing, if it appears from the facts of the motion, exhibits, and prior proceedings in the case that the movant is not entitled to relief). Based on the following, the Court denies Chatmon's petition/motion.

After a four day jury trial, a jury found Chatmon guilty of conspiracy to possess and distribute more than 50 grams of crack cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § § 841(a)(1) and 846 on April 27, 2001. On February 19, 2002, Chatmon was sentenced to life imprisonment, 10 years supervised release if released, a fine of $2,500 and a special assessment of $100. Chatmon appealed his conviction and sentence to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.*fn1 On April 4, 2003, the Seventh Circuit affirmed his conviction and sentence. See United States v. Chatmon, 324 F.3d 889 (7th Cir. 2003).*fn2 Chatmon did not file a petition for a writ of certiorari. The Seventh Circuit issued its mandate on May 12, 2003 (See USA v. Chatmom, 99-40085-DRH, Doc. 125; filed by the Clerk of the Court on May 13, 2003).

Thereafter, Chatmon filed this § 2255 petition on June 24, 2004 (Doc. 1). On July 29, 2004, Chatmon filed a supplement to his original § 2255 petition adding additional arguments for § 2255 relief (Doc. 6). Chatmon raises a slew of arguments ranging from the Government presented perjured testimony at the trial to ineffective counsel at almost every stage of his criminal case. On October 25, 2005, the Government responded to Chatmon's petition (Doc. 12) and on December 7, 2005, Chatmon filed a reply (Doc. 15).

II. Analysis

28 U.S.C. § 2255 provides:

A prisoner in custody under sentence of a court established by the Act of Congress claiming the right to be released upon the ground that the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, or that the court was without jurisdiction to impose such sentence, or that sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law, or is otherwise subject to collateral attack may move the court which imposed the sentence to vacate, set aside or correct the sentence.

Section 2255 was enacted to provide the court of the district in which a defendant is sentenced the same remedies available by habeas corpus proceedings to the court of the district in which a prisoner is confined. Hill v. United States, 368 U.S. 424, 427 (1962). The grounds for relief under § 2255 are considerably more narrow than the grounds for relief on direct appeal. Relief under Section 2255 is "reserved for extraordinary situations." Prewitt v. United States, 83 F.3d 812, 816 (7th Cir. 1996), citing Brecht v. Abrahamson, 507 U.S. 619, 633-34 (1993). A criminal defendant may attack the validity of his sentence under Section 2255 only if the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, or that the court was without jurisdiction to impose such sentence, or that the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law, or is otherwise subject to collateral attack.

28 U.S.C. § 2255; Prewitt, 83 F.3d at 816. However, a Section 2255 motion "is neither a recapitulation of nor a substitute for a direct appeal." Olmstead v. United States, 55 F.3d 316, 319 (7th Cir. 1995); see also Daniels v. United States, 26 F.3d 706, 711 (7th Cir. 1994). Therefore, [a]n issue not raised on direct appeal is barred from collateral review absent a showing of both good cause for the failure to raise the claims on direct appeal and actual prejudice from the failure to raise those claims, or if a refusal to consider the issue would lead to a fundamental miscarriage of justice.

Prewitt, 83 F.3d at 816 (emphasis in original). See also Reed v. Farley, 512 U.S. 339, 354 (1994). The Seventh Circuit has made it very clear that there are three types of issues that cannot be raised in a Section 2255 motion:

"(1) issues that were raised on direct appeal, absent a showing of changed circumstances; (2) non-constitutional issues that could have been but were not raised of direct appeal; and (3) constitutional issues that were not raised on direct appeal, unless the section 2255 petitioner demonstrates cause for the procedural default as well as actual prejudice from the failure to appeal."

Belford v. United States, 975 F.2d 310, 313 (7th Cir. 1992), overruled on other grounds, Castellanos v. United States, 26 F.3d 717 (7th Cir. 1994).

Furthermore, a petitioner filing a petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 must state specific facts which describe each ground for relief so that the district court may tell from the face of the petition whether habeas review is warranted. See Rule 2(b) of the Rules Governing § 2255 Cases; see also Adams v. Armontrout, 897 F.2d 332, 334 (8th Cir. 1990)(§ 2254 petition). A § 2255 petition cannot stand on vague and conclusory assertions of a constitutional violation; rather, the petition must set forth facts with sufficient detail to point the district court to the real possibility of a constitutional error. See Oliver v. United States, 961 F.2d 1339, 1343 n. 5 (7th Cir. 1992)(holding that a district court may deny a § 2255 motion without a hearing "if the allegations in the motion are unreasonably vague, conclusory, or incredible, or if the factual matters raised by the motion may be resolved on the record before the district court."); see also Shah v. United States, 878 F.2d 1156, 1161 (9th Cir. 1989)(holding that vague or conclusory allegations warrant summary dismissal of § 2255 claims); see also United States v. Aiello, 814 F.2d 109, 113-14 (2nd Cir. 1987)(holding that a § 2255 petition must be based on more than "[a]iry generalities, conclusory assertions and hearsay statements."); see also United States v. Unger, 635 F.2d 688, 691 (8th Cir. 1980) (holding that "[c]onclusory assertions that a defendant's pleas were involuntary and coerced are insufficient."). Because Chatmon is not represented by counsel, his motion must be liberally construed.

Blake v. United States, 841 F.2d 203, 205-06 (7th Cir. 1998). With these principles in mind, the Court addresses the merits of Chatmon's petition/motion.

A. Perjury

As to ground one, Chatmon argues that the Government presented suborned perjury to obtain his conviction. Specifically, Chatmon contends that the testimony of Government's witnesses Bolling and Barnett were patently false and contradicted by the police officers at the scene. In response, the Government contends that this argument is procedurally defaulted as it should have been raised on Chatmon's direct appeal. The Court agrees with the Government. Chatmon has not met either the good cause or the fundamental miscarriage of justice tests to pursue these claims. Thus, Chatmon is procedurally barred from pursuing this issue now.

Assuming arguendo that Chatmon is not procedurally barred, the Court finds this argument without merit. Chatmon alleges that the testimony of Bolling and Barnett was false in that both testified that it was Chatmon that threw the kilogram of cocaine into Bolling's father's yard. Chatmon contends that it was Bolling that threw the kilogram of cocaine in Bolling's father's yard. Chatmon further ...


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