United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
HARRY D. LEINENWEBER, District Judge.
In 2003, Petitioner Dawnya Parker ("Parker") began a romantic relationship with Calvin Buffington ("Buffington"), who she later learned was a narcotics trafficker. Sometime in 2007, Parker picked up and stored a bag for Buffington in her bedroom, where she also kept a firearm. Parker later discovered that the bag contained loose U.S. currency. During a subsequent telephone call with Buffington, Parker agreed to and eventually stored a second bag for him. Buffington was arrested shortly thereafter, at which time Parker learned that this second bag contained 1026 grams of heroin.
On December 13, 2007, Parker and her Co-Defendants were charged in a superseding indictment. Parker was charged in two of the indictment's counts. Count I charged Parker with conspiracy to knowingly and intentionally distribute and possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of mixtures containing a detectable amount of cocaine and more than one kilogram of mixtures containing a detectable amount of heroin. Count XII charged her with possessing a firearm in furtherance of a felony drug offense.
Then, on October 26, 2009, the Government issued a two-count superseding information against Parker, who pleaded guilty to both. Count I charged her with using a phone in connection with a felony drug offense and Count II charged her with using a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. In the written Plea Agreement, Parker agreed to waive her right to challenge her conviction and sentence. The Agreement explicitly stated that "Defendant also waives her right to challenge her conviction and sentence... in any collateral attack or future challenge, including but not limited to a motion brought under Title 28, United States Code, Section 2255." After Parker's plea and sentencing hearings, the Court sentenced her to seventy-two months imprisonment, and the Government dismissed the original indictment.
Having served her sentence on Count I, Parker now moves to vacate her sentence on Count II. She argues that the waiver in her Plea Agreement was involuntary and the result of ineffective assistance of counsel. For the following reasons, Parker's Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Judgment pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 [ECF. No. 1] is denied.
II. LEGAL STANDARD
A federal prisoner may challenge her conviction or sentence by filing a motion with the court that sentenced her on the grounds that the "sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Relief under § 2255 is an "extraordinary remedy" because the petitioner already has "had an opportunity for full process." Almonacid v. United States, 476 F.3d 518, 521 (7th Cir. 2007).
Waivers of the right to bring a collateral attack under § 2255 "are enforceable as a general rule; the right to mount a collateral attack pursuant to § 2255 survives only with respect to those discrete claims which relate directly to the negotiation of the waiver." Jones v. United States, 167 F.3d 1142, 1145 (7th Cir. 1999). "There are only two exceptions to the enforceability of a collateral attack waiver: (1) if it was involuntary, or (2) if there is a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel in connection with the negotiation of the waiver." Weir v. United States, 959 F.Supp.2d 1127, 1132 (C.D. Ill. 2013). In this case, Parker concedes that her signed plea agreement includes a waiver of the right to bring a collateral attack. She argues, though, that both exceptions to enforceability apply.
A. Parker's Waiver was Involuntary
Parker claims that her waiver was involuntary because she was coerced by the "threat" that her mother's home might be forced into forfeiture if Parker did not plead guilty. The signed Plea Agreement, however, stated that "no threats, promises, or representations have been made." When asked under oath whether she was "pleading guilty of [her] own free and voluntary act, " she responded, "Yes." "[A] claim that can succeed only if the defendant lied to the judge during the plea colloquy may be rejected out of hand unless the defendant has a compelling explanation for the contradiction." Boatman v. United States, No. 12-CV-1095-WDS, 2012 WL 5389828, at *3 (S.D. Ill. Nov. 5, 2012) (internal quotation marks omitted).
Here, Parker has not provided any such compelling explanation because the possibility of forfeiture was a risk of proceeding to trial, not a threat. Her mother's home was included in the superseding indictment because Parker stored the bags of cash and drugs at the house. The superseding information, however, did not include the forfeiture provision. Informing Parker that the Government remained free to initiate a forfeiture proceeding simply made her aware of a harmful consequence that might occur if she rejected ...