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United States v. Jackson

November 4, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Charles P. Kocoras, District Judge


This matter comes before the court on the motion of Edward Jackson ("Jackson") to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is denied.


Jackson is a former police officer who worked in the Austin district on the west side of Chicago. He and several of his fellow officers were investigated for narcotics trafficking. Jackson was accused of providing protection to drug dealers as well as regularly taking money and drugs from rival dealers during street stops or home searches. He was charged with conspiracy under the Hobbs Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a); violation of the Hobbs Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a); 18 U.S.C. § 924(c); conspiracy to distribute controlled substance pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 846; possession of controlled substance with intent to distribute under 21 U.S.C. § 841; and Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations ("RICO") violations under 18 U.S.C. § 1961, et seq. The case was tried to a jury. The jury rendered a verdict of guilt on all counts, and Jackson was sentenced to a period of incarceration of 115 years, a fine of $25,000, and two years' supervised release.

Jackson appealed his conviction to the Seventh Circuit; he asserted that this court did not have jurisdiction under the Hobbs Act because the robberies did not create a substantial effect on interstate commerce. The Seventh Circuit held that the government need only show a de minimis effect on interstate commerce provided that the entity belongs to a class of businesses that, in the aggregate, has a substantial effect on interstate commerce. United States v. Moore, 363 F.3d 631, 636 (7th Cir. 2004). Jackson did not present the Seventh Circuit with the issue of the conflicted trial counsel or the confrontation clause problems he raises in his current motion.

After his conviction was affirmed, Jackson petitioned the Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari. In conjunction with the petition, he challenged his sentence as unconstitutional under Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296 (2004). On January 24, 2005, the Supreme Court agreed with his position in light of its decision in United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005), and remanded the case to the Seventh Circuit for further consideration. After a limited remand to this court pursuant to United States v. Paladino, 401 F.3d 471, 481 (7th Cir. 2005), we determined that Jackson would have received the same sentence even if the Sentencing Guidelines had been advisory at the time of the original sentencing. The Seventh Circuit then affirmed the sentence. Jackson again petitioned the Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari, which was denied on October 2, 2006. He then requested a rehearing, which was also denied on November 13, 2006.

Jackson then began filing a flurry of requests with this court seeking trial transcripts, grand jury testimony, motions filed in his criminal case, and various other court documents. These motions were denied without prejudice. After this court ruled against Jackson's motion to proceed in forma pauperis and for receipt of trial transcripts and other documents, Jackson filed a reply to the government's response. On June 14, 2007, this court denied any remaining requests Jackson alluded to in his unauthorized reply. In the fall of 2007, Jackson filed the instant motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255.


Section 2255 permits a prisoner to ask the sentencing court to vacate, set aside, or correct a sentence after direct review is completed on the grounds 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 a 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. Such collateral relief is only available, however, where the sentence involved a jurisdictional or constitutional error or results in a complete miscarriage of justice. Bischel v. United States, 32 F.3d 259, 263 (7th Cir. 1994). In evaluating a § 2255 petition, the district court must review the record and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the government. Carnine v. United States, 974 F.2d 924, 928 (7th Cir. 1992).

A district court need not reach the merits of an issue in a § 2255 proceeding unless it has been raised in a procedurally appropriate manner. See Williams v. United States, 805 F.2d 1301 (7th Cir. 1986). When a defendant fails to raise an available claim during direct review, the doctrine of procedural default normally will bar its consideration in a § 2255 motion. Galbraith v. United States, 313 F.3d 1001, 1006 (7th Cir. 2002). Such a motion is neither a recapitulation of nor a substitute for a direct appeal. See McCleese v. United States, 75 F.3d 1174, 1177 (7th Cir. 1996). This general rule is subject to two exceptions: where a defendant can satisfy the "cause and prejudice" test of Wainwright v. Sykes, 433 U.S. 72, 87 (1977), and where a defendant can show a fundamental miscarriage of justice. See Sawyer v. Whitley, 505 U.S. 333, 339 (1992).

To proceed under the first exception, a defendant must show that the failure to present a given issue previously was the result of circumstances outside the defendant's control ("cause") and that the errors of which he complains created actual and substantial disadvantage, such that his entire trial was tainted with error of constitutional proportions ("prejudice"). See, e.g., Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722, 753 (1991); United States v. Frady, 456 U.S. 152, 170 (1982). It is not enough for a defendant to make conclusory allegations of cause and prejudice; the burden can only be satisfied by a specific showing of their existence. See, e.g., Norris v. United States, 687 F.2d 899, 900-04 (7th Cir. 1982).

Under the second exception, if a defendant can show a fundamental miscarriage of justice that would result if his claims went unexamined, procedural default will not prevent a court from addressing the merits of a § 2255 motion. See Sawyer, 505 U.S. at 339. In this context, the phrase "fundamental miscarriage of justice" has been construed to apply only to situations in which a defendant can demonstrate that he is actually innocent of the crime of which he stands convicted. See Gomez v. Jaimet, 350 F.3d 673, 679 (7th Cir. 2003). Furthermore, if a procedurally defaulted argument does not raise a constitutional issue, it is barred from collateral review. Belford v. United States, 975 F.2d 310, 313 (7th Cir. 1992), overruled on other grounds by Castellanos v. United States, 26 F.3d 717, 719-20 (7th Cir. 1994). However, questions of ineffective assistance of counsel are generally exempt from procedural default. Massaro v. United States, 538 U.S. 500 (2003). With these principles in mind, we turn our attention to Jackson's motion.


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