The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael P. McCUSKEY Chief U.S. District Judge
On January 14, 2010, Petitioner, Travis Farris, filed a pro se Motion to Vacate, Set Aside or Correct Sentence (#1) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Petitioner claims that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel at the trial and pretrial stages of his case, as well as on appeal. On February 23, 2010, the Government filed its Response to Petitioner's Motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (#5). On April 22, 2010, Petitioner filed his Reply (#7). This court has carefully considered the arguments raised by the parties and the record in this case. Following this careful and thorough review, Petitioner's Motion to Vacate, Set Aside or Correct Sentence (#1) is DENIED.
On April 6, 2006, in Case No. 06-20029, Petitioner was charged by Indictment with conspiracy to commit the armed robbery of a Ramada Inn and a U.S. Bank facility in Mattoon, Illinois, and mail fraud (Count 1), armed robbery of the U.S. Bank facility (Count 2), and a violation of the Hobbs Act in connection with the attempted robbery of the Ramada Inn (Count 3). On November 2, 2006, a Superseding Indictment was filed and added Count 4 which charged Petitioner with using and carrying a firearm during the bank robbery. Petitioner was originally represented by a court-appointed panel attorney, Harvey Welch. On October 16, 2006, Attorney Carol Dison entered her appearance in the case as retained counsel.
On November 16, 2006, following a four-day jury trial, Petitioner was found guilty of Counts 1, 2, and 4. He was found not guilty of Count 3. On March 13, 2007, a sentencing hearing was held and Petitioner was sentenced to a total of 147 months of imprisonment. Petitioner filed a Notice of Appeal, and Attorney Dison was appointed to represent him on appeal.
In his appeal, Petitioner challenged the sufficiency of the evidence against him and the reasonableness of his sentence. On July 9, 2008, the Seventh Circuit issued an Opinion and affirmed Petitioner's convictions and sentence. United States v. Farris, 532 F.3d 615 (7th Cir. 2008). The Seventh Circuit noted that, at trial, Jesse Matthew Coartney, Petitioner's friend since the third grade, testified that he and Petitioner were involved in a scheme to burn a vehicle owned by Petitioner to obtain the insurance proceeds and participated in a bank robbery. Farris, 532 F.3d at 616. Coartney had pleaded guilty and testified as part of a plea agreement. Farris, 532 F.3d at 616. The Seventh Circuit further noted that Coartney's testimony against Petitioner was corroborated by many other Government witnesses. Farris, 532 F.3d at 618. The Seventh Circuit noted that Petitioner testified in his own defense and denied any role in the burning of his vehicle. Farris, 532 F.3d at 618. The Seventh Circuit stated:
Farris also presented an alibi for his involvement in the bank robbery, claiming that he attended an Army event at 10 AM the morning of the bank robbery, and that it would have been impossible for him to have also robbed the bank less than 20 minutes earlier. Farris's brother and cousin confirmed that they attended the event and arrived together with Farris.*fn1 The Army Sergeant in charge of the recruiting function that day was also called as a witness by Farris. He testified that these recruiting events typically started "at about 10:00," and that this particular event started sometime between 10:00 and 10:20 at the latest.
The Seventh Circuit rejected Petitioner's sufficiency of the evidence argument, first concluding that there was sufficient evidence for the jury to find that Petitioner burned the vehicle to obtain the insurance proceeds. Farris, 532 F.3d at 619. As far as the bank robbery, the Court noted that Petitioner was left to argue that Coartney's testimony "was incredible as a matter of law, meaning that it would have been 'physically impossible for the witness to observe that which he claims occurred, or impossible under the laws of nature for the occurrence to have taken place at all.'" Farris, 532 F.3d at 619, quoting United States v. Saulter, 60 F.3d 270, 275 (7th Cir. 1995). The Court stated:
Farris tries to make such an argument, claiming that if he had in fact participated in the bank robbery, it would have been impossible for him to have also arrived at the Army recruiting event later that morning when he did. Even based on Farris's own time estimates, however, his claim fails. The bank's surveillance video reflects that the robbers were in the bank at 9:44 AM. Despite Farris's conclusory assertion that it would have taken him "well over 30 minutes" to arrive at the Army function, his formal time calculation is that travel time from the bank to the Army event would have been more than 28 minutes and 8 seconds. Using this latter figure, Farris would have arrived at the Army function some time after 10:12 AM. This fails to make Coartney's testimony incredible as a matter of law, since the Army Sergeant, who was Farris's own witness, testified that the event that morning could have begun as late as 10:20 AM.
At trial, Farris was given the opportunity to present his own evidence and cross-examine and impeach Coartney's testimony. The fact that the jury ultimately credited Coartney's testimony is a matter that Farris improperly tries to re-litigate on appeal. The Government provided more than ample evidence for a jury to find Farris guilty of the charged crimes. While Coartney's testimony alone would have been sufficient to support the verdict, his testimony was also corroborated by eye-witness accounts of the robbery, the store owner who sold Farris the gun, and other witnesses.
Farris, 532 F.3d at 619-20. The Seventh Circuit also found that this court did not abuse its discretion in imposing a sentence of 147 months, which was the low end of the sentencing guidelines range. Farris, 532 F.3d at 620.
Petitioner filed a petition for a writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court. The petition was denied on January 12, 2009. As noted previously, Petitioner filed his Motion to Vacate, Set Aside or Correct Sentence ...