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Robinson v. United States

September 26, 2007

CHRISTOPHER W. ROBINSON, PETITIONER,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, RESPONDENT.



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

ORDER

I. Introduction and Background

Now before the Court is Christopher W. Robinson'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 Robinson's petition/motion.

On March 28, 2002, Robinson entered an open guilty plea to a one count indictment charging conspiracy to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine. On August 1, 2002, the Court sentenced Robinson to 188 months imprisonment. This sentence was at the low end of the applicable Guideline range. The Court also imposed a $1,500 fine, five years of supervised release and a special assessment of one hundred dollars. Robinson filed a notice of appeal on August 7, 2002 (Doc. 38). On March 5, 2003, Robinson's appointed counsel on appeal, Richard H. Parsons, filed an Anders brief and moved to withdraw from the appeal. The Seventh Circuit notified Robinson of his right to respond to the Anders brief. Robinson did not and, therefore, on April 28, 2003, the appeal was dismissed. Robinson did not file a petition for writ of certiorari with the United States Supreme Court. Instead, Robinson, pro se, timely filed a 28 U.S.C. § 2255 petition with this Court (Doc. 1).

On September 16, 2004 and again on June 28, 2005 Robinson filed a supplement to his original § 2255 petition adding additional arguments for § 2255 relief (Docs. 3,5). Robinson's original and supplemental § 2255 petitions argue that relief should be granted for the following reasons: 1) Robinson's counsel was ineffective for failing to properly explain the elements of the offense of conspiracy; 2) the Court accepted Robinson's guilty plea without properly determining whether there was a factual basis for the plea; 3) Robinson's Sixth Amendment rights were violated because a jury did not make the drug quantity determination relevant to his sentencing; and 4) the Court exceeded its authority when applying the Career Offender Enhancement at Robinson's sentencing and Robinson's counsel was ineffective for failing to object to the enhancement. On March 3, 2006, the Government responded to Robinson's petition (Doc. 9); Robinson did not file a reply.

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 on 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 ยง 2255 petition must be based on more than "[a]iry generalities, conclusory assertions and hearsay ...


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