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Coleman v. United States

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

December 8, 2014

JOE GILLESPIE COLEMAN, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent. Criminal No. 11-cr-40011-JPG

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

J. PHIL GILBERT, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on petitioner Joe Gillespie Coleman's motion to vacate, set aside or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (Doc. 1). On December 4, 2012, a jury found the petitioner guilty of one count of disposing of ammunition to a convicted felon in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(d). On March 31, 2013, the Court sentenced the petitioner to serve seven months in prison. The petitioner appealed his sentence, but on October 4, 2013, the Court of Appeals dismissed Coleman's appeal pursuant to his request. Coleman is currently serving a term of supervised release.

I. § 2255 Motion

In his timely § 2255 motion, Coleman argues that his counsel, James I. Karraker, was constitutionally ineffective in violation of his Sixth Amendment right to counsel when he:

Ground 1: Failed to observe professional standards in a number of ways;
Ground 2: Abandoned the petitioner on appeal;
Ground 3: Failed to argue that a statement the petitioner made was obtained by law enforcement while the defendant was mentally unstable and to present expert medical witnesses in support of that argument; and
Ground 4: Failed to call Wilbur Collier, who was present at trial and available to provide exculpatory evidence.

In an order dated October 29, 2014 (Doc. 2), the Court determined that it was plain from the motion and the record of the prior proceedings that the petitioner is not entitled to relief on Ground 1. See Rule 4(b) of the Rules Governing Section 2255 Proceedings for the United States District Courts. The Court ordered the Government to respond to Grounds 2-4, which it has done (Docs. 3 & 4).

II. Analysis

The Court must grant a § 2255 motion when a defendant's "sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 2255. However, "[h]abeas corpus relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 is reserved for extraordinary situations." Prewitt v. United States, 83 F.3d 812, 816 (7th Cir. 1996). "Relief under § 2255 is available only for errors of constitutional or jurisdictional magnitude, or where the error represents a fundamental defect which inherently results in a complete miscarriage of justice." Kelly v. United States, 29 F.3d 1107, 1112 (7th Cir. 1994) (quotations omitted). It is proper to deny a § 2255 motion without an evidentiary hearing if "the motion and the files and records of the case conclusively demonstrate that the prisoner is entitled to no relief." 28 U.S.C. § 2255(b); see Sandoval v. United States, 574 F.3d 847, 850 (7th Cir. 2009). The Court declines to hold a hearing on Grounds 2-4 of Coleman's motion because, as explained below, the records of the case clearly demonstrate he is entitled to no relief on those grounds.

In his § 2255 motion, Coleman alleges he received ineffective assistance of counsel in violation of the Sixth Amendment. 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. Counsel's performance must be evaluated keeping in mind that an attorney's trial strategies are a matter of professional judgment and often turn on facts not contained in the trial record. Strickland, 466 U.S. at 689. The Court cannot become a "Monday morning quarterback." Harris v. Reed, 894 F.2d 871, 877 (7th Cir. 1990).

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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