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Yarrington v. United States

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

May 17, 2013

THOMAS A. YARRINGTON, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

OPINION

RICHARD MILLS, District Judge.

This case is before the Court on Petitioner Thomas A. Yarrington's Motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct a Sentence [d/e 1]. As directed, the Government filed a Response [d/e 5] to the Motion. The Petitioner filed a Reply [d/e 6] to the Government's Response.

I. BACKGROUND

On December 2, 2008, a grand jury indicted Petitioner Thomas A. Yarrington for possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute. A search of the Petitioner's residence on May 22, 2008, had revealed approximately one-third of a kilogram of cocaine and nearly $15, 000 in cash. The Petitioner's fingerprints were found on the bag containing the largest amount of cocaine. The Petitioner admitted his involvement to federal agents after his arrest. See United States v. Thomas A. Yarrington, Case No. 3:08-cr-30115-RM-BGC, Doc. No. 40.

The Petitioner later recanted his confession and proceeded to trial. On January 27, 2012, following a three-day jury trial, the Petitioner was found guilty on the single-count of the indictment. See id., Doc. No. 31. On July 12, 2010, the Petitioner was sentenced to a term of 108 months imprisonment. See id., Doc. No. 62.

The Petitioner appealed his sentence. On May 31, 2011, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed his sentence. See id., Doc. No. 81. The Petitioner timely filed the instant Motion Under § 2255 to Vacate.

II. DISCUSSION

In his § 2255 Motion, the Petitioner asserts three claims for relief: (1) Federal Agents and other law enforcement officials made false statements and presented false evidence; (2) Ineffective Assistance of Counsel; and (3) the Court erred in assessing his relevant conduct, resulting in an erroneous guidelines range.

A. Legal standard

A petitioner is entitled to habeas relief under § 2255 if his "sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 2255. "[R]elief under § 2255 is an extraordinary remedy because it asks the district court to reopen the criminal process to a person who already has had an opportunity for full process." Almonacid v. United States, 476 F.3d 518, 521 (7th Cir. 2007). A petitioner is not entitled to habeas relief unless there is "an error of law that is jurisdictional, constitutional, or constitutes a fundamental defect which inherently results in a complete miscarriage of justice." Harris v. United States, 366 F.3d 593, 594 (7th Cir. 2004) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

B. Claim One

The Petitioner asserts that federal agents and other law enforcement officers presented false evidence and further alleges that he is entitled to relief under Napue v. Illinois, 360 U.S. 264 (1959); Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963); and Giglio v. United States, 405 U.S. 150 (1972). He claims that the Government knowingly presented perjury, which directly affected the outcome of the trial. According to the Petitioner, one investigating agent made a number of false statements. The Petitioner contends other agents knowingly botched the investigation and conspired with other law enforcement officials to arrest, charge and prosecute the Petitioner with crimes that others committed.

The Petitioner's first claim is basically that all of the government agents were liars. "[S]uch an argument is pointless... for the jury determines credibility." United States v. Wright, 218 F.3d 812, 813 (7th Cir. 2000).

At trial, the Petitioner testified that the witnesses against him were untruthful. He offered his own version of the truth. The Petitioner admitted that cocaine was found in his apartment and that his fingerprints were on the largest bag of cocaine. There was testimony that drug dealers often keep large amounts of cash. The Petitioner acknowledged that a bag containing $14, 800 found under his bed belonged to him. Although the Petitioner claimed that he earned the money by legal means, he had no documentation in support of any legitimate income. The Petitioner disputed that the Inositol powder, which can be used ...


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