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Collins v. United States

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

April 21, 2014

CLAYTON R. COLLINS, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent. Criminal No. 12-cr-30139-GPM

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

J. PHIL GILBERT, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on petitioner Clayton R. Collins' motion to vacate, set aside or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255.

I. Background

On February 4, 2013, the petitioner pled guilty to five child sex or child pornography offenses. On the same day, the Court sentenced the petitioner to serve lengthy sentences on each count, the longest of which was 300 months in prison on Count 1 for enticement of a minor using the internet. During these proceedings, Collins was represented by an assistant federal public defender employed by the federal government. The petitioner did not appeal his conviction to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

In his § 2255 motion, filed February 10, 2014, the petitioner raises the following claims:

Ground 1: His counsel was constitutionally ineffective in violation of the Sixth Amendment because he failed to inform Collins that he had a conflict of interest because he was employed by the federal government and was considered an officer of the court, which rendered Collins' consent to representation uninformed;
Ground 2: His May 24, 2012, indictment was too long after his October 24, 2011, arrest; and
Ground 3: There was no "ratification for commencement, " and he was not prosecuted in this case in the name of the real party in interest.

Pursuant to Rule 4(b) of the Rules Governing Section 2255 Proceedings for the United States District Courts, the Court has determined that it is plain from the motion and the record of the prior proceedings that the petitioner is not entitled to relief on any of the stated grounds.

II. Analysis

A. Ground 1

The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution provides that "[i]n all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right... to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence." U.S. Const. amend. VI. This right to assistance of counsel encompasses the right to effective assistance of counsel. McMann v. Richardson, 397 U.S. 759, 771, n. 14 (1970); Watson v. Anglin, 560 F.3d 687, 690 (7th Cir. 2009). A party claiming ineffective assistance of counsel bears the burden of showing (1) that his trial counsel's performance fell below objective standards for reasonably effective representation and (2) that this deficiency prejudiced the defense. Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 688-94 (1984); United States v. Jones, 635 F.3d 909, 915 (7th Cir. 2011); Wyatt v. United States, 574 F.3d 455, 457 (7th Cir. 2009); Fountain v. United States, 211 F.3d 429, 434 (7th Cir. 2000).

To satisfy the first prong of the Strickland test, the petitioner must direct the Court to specific acts or omissions of his counsel. Wyatt, 574 F.3d at 458. The Court must then consider whether in light of all of the circumstances counsel's performance was outside the wide range of professionally competent assistance. Id. The Court's review of counsel's performance must be "highly deferential[, ]... indulg[ing] a strong presumption that counsel's conduct falls within the wide range of reasonable professional assistance." Strickland, 466 U.S. at 689; accord Wyatt, 574 F.3d at 458.

To satisfy the second prong of the Strickland test, the plaintiff must show that there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceedings would have been different, such that the proceedings were fundamentally unfair or unreliable. Jones, 635 F.3d at 915; Fountain, 211 F.3d at 434; Adams v. Bertrand, 453 F.3d 428, 435 (7th Cir. 2006). "A reasonable probability is defined as one that is ...


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