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United States v. Parker

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

December 2, 2016

United States of America, Plaintiff,
Edward Parker, Defendant.


          John Z. Lee United States District Judge.

         In June 2013, Edward Parker pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance in violation of 28 U.S.C. § 846. He was then sentenced to a prison term of 160 months and a supervised release period of 10 years. Parker has now filed a pro se motion to vacate his conviction and sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. He asserts claims based on violations of the Fourth Amendment and 18 U.S.C. § 2518, actual innocence, the Government's failure to disclose evidence, and ineffective assistance of counsel. For the reasons stated herein, Parker's § 2255 motion is denied.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         In June 2012, Edward Parker and eighteen other defendants were charged by criminal complaint for crimes relating to the sale and possession of cocaine. Compl. at 1-5, No. 12 CR 421, ECF No. 1. The complaint was the culmination of an extensive investigation into a drug-trafficking organization led by Odell Givens, one of Parker's co-defendants. In turn, the investigation of Givens's organization originated from an earlier, separate investigation of a street gang called the Imperial Insane Vice Lords. One of the targets of this earlier investigation was Nathaniel Hoskins, an alleged leader of the gang. Gov't Resp. at 2, No. 15 CV 7363, ECF No. 7; see also Indictment ¶ 5(a), No. 13 CR 0772, ECF No. 2 (indicting Hoskins and twenty-three other defendants affiliated with the Imperial Insane Vice Lords). The investigation of Hoskins led law enforcement agents to seek a court-authorized wiretap for the phone of a man named Jettie Williams.[1] See Gov't Resp. at 4-5. Intercepted conversations between Williams and Givens then led agents to suspect that Givens was engaged in drug-trafficking activities. Id. In September 2011, the Chicago Police Department and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration commenced their investigation of Givens by obtaining a wiretap for his cell phone. See generally Gov't Ex. A, Sept. 2011 Application, No. 12 CR 421, ECF No. 332-1. The investigation of Givens subsequently expanded to include interceptions of conversations on more than a dozen cell phones used by Parker and two other defendants involved in Givens's organization. Compl. ¶ 7 & n.1. All of these interceptions were made pursuant to judicial authorization under 18 U.S.C. § 2518. Id.

         The criminal complaint that was filed in June 2012 charged Parker and Givens of conspiring with one another to possess and distribute cocaine. Id. at 1. As evidence supporting this charge against Parker, the Government relied on “calls in which Parker was intercepted; calls in which other [members of Givens's drug- trafficking organization] were intercepted talking about Parker; surveillance; and seizures of controlled substances and U.S. currency.” Id. at ¶ 15. Parker was arrested and made his initial appearance on June 6, 2012, at which time the Court appointed attorney Eugene Steingold to serve as Parker's counsel. No. 12 CR 421, ECF No. 15. Several months later, Parker testified before a grand jury and was indicted for multiple crimes based on the original complaint. No. 12 CR 421, ECF No. 187.

         On June 20, 2013, pursuant to a written plea agreement, Parker pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute at least 5 kilograms of cocaine and at least 280 grams of cocaine base. Plea Agreement ¶ 5, No. 12 CR 421, ECF No. 215. In the plea agreement, Parker admitted that he had “worked for a narcotics distribution business led by Odell Givens” since the summer of 2010. Id. at ¶ 6. Parker's participation in Givens's business included “transport[ing] kilogram quantities of cocaine that Givens received from sources of supply, ” “stor[ing] cocaine and crack cocaine at his residence, ” “repackag[ing] powder cocaine for distribution, ” “cook[ing] powder cocaine into crack cocaine for distribution, ” “regularly deliver[ing] powder and crack cocaine to customers, ” and “collect[ing] drug proceeds from customers.” Id.

         Under the terms of the plea agreement, Parker expressly waived the right to challenge his conviction, his sentence, or any pretrial rulings on direct appeal. Id. at ¶ 23(b). He also expressly waived the right to collaterally challenge his conviction and sentence in a § 2255 motion, subject to narrow exceptions. Id. This collateral-review waiver reads in pertinent part:

[D]efendant also waives his right to challenge his conviction and sentence, and the manner in which the sentence was determined, and (in any case in which the term of imprisonment and fine are within the maximums provided by statute) his attorney's alleged failure or refusal to file a notice of appeal, in any collateral attack or future challenge, including but not limited to a motion brought under Title 28, United States Code, Section 2255. The waiver in this paragraph does not apply to a claim of involuntariness, or ineffective assistance of counsel, which relates directly to this waiver or to its negotiation.

Id. The collateral-review waiver is followed by a paragraph that provides: “Defendant understands that by pleading guilty he is waiving all rights set forth in the prior paragraphs. Defendant's attorney has explained those rights to him, and the consequences of his waiver of those rights.” Id. at ¶ 23(c). The waiver was explained again to Parker at his plea hearing on June 20, 2013, as well as at his sentencing hearing on June 9, 2015. No. 12 CR 421, ECF No. 214, 288.

         In exchange for Parker's cooperation with law enforcement, the Government agreed to move the Court for a downward departure pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 5K1.1 for a sentence of 55 percent of the low end of the applicable Guideline range. Plea Agreement ¶¶ 11-13. At Parker's sentencing hearing, the Court sentenced Parker to the agreed-upon term of 160 months' imprisonment. Judgment at 2, No. 12 CR 421, ECF No. 303. On August 20, 2015, Parker filed a pro se motion to vacate his conviction and sentence under § 2255.

         Legal Standard

         Section 2255 provides that a criminal defendant is entitled to relief from his conviction and sentence if “the court finds that the judgment was rendered without jurisdiction, or that the sentence imposed was not authorized by law or otherwise open to collateral attack, or that there has been such a denial or infringement of the constitutional rights of the prisoner as to render the judgment vulnerable to collateral attack.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(b). A court may deny a § 2255 motion without an evidentiary hearing if “the motion and the files and records of the case conclusively show” that the defendant is not entitled to relief. Id. Relief under § 2255 is available “only in extraordinary situations, such as an error of constitutional or jurisdictional magnitude or where a fundamental defect has occurred which results in a complete miscarriage of justice.” Blake v. United States, 723 F.3d 870, 878-79 (7th Cir. 2013). Courts liberally construe § 2255 motions filed by pro se movants. Gaylord v. United States, 829 F.3d 500, 508 (7th Cir. 2016) (citing Warren v. Baenen, 712 F.3d 1090, 1099-1100 (7th Cir. 2013)).


         I. Collateral-Review Waiver Pursuant to ...

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