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Martinn v. United States

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

January 19, 2017

RAYMOND M. MARTIN, Petitioner,



         This matter comes before the Court on Petitioner Raymond M. Martin's Motion (Doc. 1) to Vacate, Set Aside or Correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. The Government filed a timely response (Doc. 13) and the Petitioner filed a reply (Doc. 18). Petitioner also filed a Motion (Doc. 2) to Supplement the Petition and the Government filed a response to the supplement (Doc. 23). Petitioner then filed a reply (Doc. 24).

         The Court has reviewed the motion, briefs, and the records of this case and has determined that an evidentiary hearing is not warranted as the file and records conclusively demonstrates that the prisoner is entitled to no relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 2255(b).

         1. Background.

         On September 23, 2010, Raymond M. Martin was found guilty at trial of the fifteen offenses alleged in the Second Superseding Indictment including distribution of marijuana, carrying a firearm during a drug trafficking crime, and witness tampering. See United States v. Martin, 09-cr-40037-JPG, Doc. 79. He was sentenced on January 19, 2011, to custody of the Bureau of Prisons for 60 months as to Counts 1, 2, 3, 6, and 15 (all counts to run concurrent); 120 months as to Counts 7 through 14 (to run consecutive to counts 1, 2, 3, 6 and 15); life with regard to Count 4 (to run consecutive to Counts 1, 2, 3, 6, and 7 through 15); and life with regard to Count 5 (to run consecutive to Court 4). See United States v. Martin, 09-cr-40037-JPG, Doc. 138. Petitioner appealed and the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed the conviction, but vacated the sentence. See USA v. Martin, 692 F.3d 760 (7th Cir. 2012).

         The case was remanded for resentencing and a hearing was conducted on December 7, 2012. Petitioner was resentenced by the Court to the same sentence as indicated above. See United States v. Martin, 09-cr-40037-JPG, Doc. 253. The Petitioner again appealed and that appeal was dismissed on February 6, 2014. See USA v. Martin, 554 Fed.Appx. 515 (7th Cir. 2014).

         Petitioner filed his 28 U.S.C. § 2255 Petition on March 20, 2015, alleging ineffective assistance of counsel. A judgment of conviction becomes final for ' 2255 purposes when the time expires for filing a petition for certiorari contesting the appellate court's decision affirming of the conviction. Clay v. United States, 537 U.S. 522, 524-25 (2003). The period for filing such a petition expires 90 days after the court of appeals enters judgment or denies a petition for rehearing. S.Ct. R. 13. As such, Petitioner's 28 U.S.C. § 2255 Petition was timely filed.

         2. Standard.

         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, “[r]elief 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.'” United States v. Coleman, 763 F.3d 706, 708 (7th Cir. 2014) (quoting Blake v. United States, 723 F.3d 870, 878-79 (7th Cir. 2013)). 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).

         Further, a defendant cannot raise in a § 2255 motion constitutional issues that he could have but did not raise in a direct appeal unless he shows good cause for and actual prejudice from his failure to raise them on appeal or unless failure to consider the claim would result in a fundamental miscarriage of justice. Massaro v. United States, 538 U.S. 500, 504 (2003). Neither is a § 2255 motion necessarily a second chance at an appeal. Varela v. United States, 481 F.3d 932, 935 (7th Cir. 2007). Applying the “law of the case” doctrine, the Court may refuse to consider issues in a § 2255 motion that a defendant raised on direct appeal where there are no changed circumstances of fact or law. Id.; Fuller v. United States, 398 F.3d 644, 648 (7th Cir. 2005); Olmstead v. United States, 55 F.3d 316, 319 (7th Cir. 1995); Belford v. United States, 975 F.2d 310, 313 (7th Cir.1992).

         With regard to the petitioner's allegations of ineffective assistance of counsel, the failure to hear a claim for ineffective assistance of counsel in a ' 2255 motion is generally considered to work a fundamental miscarriage of justice because often such claims can be heard in no other forum. They are rarely appropriate for direct review since they often turn on events not contained in the record of a criminal proceeding. See Massaro v. United States, 123 S.Ct. 1690, 1694-5 (2003). In addition, the district court before which the original criminal trial occurred, not an appellate court, is in the best position to initially make the determination about the effectiveness of counsel in a particular trial and potential prejudice that stemmed from counsel's performance. For these reasons, ineffective assistance of counsel claims, regardless of their substance, may be raised for the first time in a ' 2255 petition. Id.

         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 defense.” 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 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), cert. denied, 130 S.Ct. 2431 (2010); 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. United States v. Jones, 635 F.3d 909, 915 (7th Cir. 2011); 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 sufficient to undermine confidence in an outcome.” Adams, 453 F.3d at 435 (citing Strickland, 466 U.S. at 694).

         Finally, the Court must liberally construe pro se pleadings. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); Hudson v. McHugh, 148 F.3d 859, 864 (7th Cir. 1998). However, Courts are not obliged to craft arguments or perform necessary legal research for pro se litigants, because even pro se litigants must put forward some legal argument in support of their contentions. See Anderson v. Hardman, 241 F.3d 544, 545 (7th Cir. 2001); Mathis v. New York Life Ins., 133 F.3d 546, 548 (7th Cir.1998); Pelfresne v. Village of Williams Bay, 917 F.2d 1017, 1023 (7th Cir. 1990).

         3. Analysis.

         In the initial motion, Petitioner alleges eight claims of ineffective assistance of counsel.

         Petitioner's supplemental material has been considered and addressed within the appropriate initial claim. The Court will address each of the Petitioner's claims in the order raised in Petitioner's motion.

(1) Whether Petitioner was denied due process by ineffective assistance of counsel for failing to object to the lack of a federal nexus.

         Petitioner argues that there was no evidence to support federal jurisdiction over the offenses and that his counsel was ineffective for failing to object that a federal cause of action existed. Petitioner cites to United States v. Lopez, 514 U.S. 549 (1995) as setting out the, “interstate nexus necessarry (sic) in order to establish federal jurisdiction.” He notes that it is the government's burden to prove jurisdiction and to prove, “that the accused's conduct affected interstate commerce.” (Doc. 1-1, pgs 11 & 12).

         Specifically, petitioner argues that his alleged conduct involved stealing marijuana from an evidence room and selling it, but not that the marijuana was “transported or otherwise flowed through interstate commerce.” (Doc. 1-1, pg 11). While Lopez does set the framework for federal jurisdiction, the case involved a particular statute or provision that fell entirely outside of Congress' commerce power. That is not the case with regard to the marijuana market.

In Raich, the Court addressed Congress's authority to regulate the marijuana market. The Court reaffirmed “Congress' power to regulate purely local activities that are part of an economic ‘class of activities' that have a substantial effect on interstate commerce.” 545 U.S., at 17, 125 S.Ct. 2195. The production, possession, and distribution of controlled substances constitute a “class of activities” that in the aggregate substantially affect interstate commerce, and therefore, the Court held, Congress possesses the authority to regulate (and to criminalize) the production, possession, and distribution of controlled substances even when those activities occur entirely within the boundaries of a single State. Any other outcome, we warned, would leave a gaping enforcement hole in Congress's regulatory scheme. Id., at 22, 125 S.Ct. 2195.
Taylor v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 2074, 2080, 195 L.Ed.2d 456 (2016)(emphasis added).

         As such, the distribution of controlled substances - regardless whether the activity is local or interstate - has been deemed to substantially affect interstate commerce. Further, as the government notes, there was factual evidence at trial that the petitioner obtained marijuana from Tennessee and that he was aware that such product was being obtained from Tennessee. See United States v. Martin, 09-cr-40037-JPG, Doc. 127, pg. 530.

         Therefore, petitioner's counsel was not ineffective for failing to object to the lack of a federal nexus as such an objection would be frivolous.

(2) Whether Petitioner was denied due process by ineffective assistance of counsel for failing to request a Franks hearing challenging the accuracy of the statements of Jeremy Potts.

         Petitioner claims that, “Potts, or otherwise the informant, gave false testimony while testifying at the petitioner's trial.” Further, petitioner claims that Mr. Potts gave a false statement, “in a police statement initiating the investigation.” Therefore, petitioner claims that his counsel should have moved for a Franks hearing and also “moved the court to suppress all of the evidence procured by law enforcement.” (Doc. 1-1, pg. 15).

         The Petitioner cites to Franks v. Delaware, 438 U.S. 154 (1978) which held:

[W]here the defendant makes a substantial preliminary showing that a false statement knowingly and intentionally, or with reckless disregard for the truth, was including by the affiant in the warrant affidavit, and if the allegedly false statement is necessary to the finding of probable cause, the Fourth Amendment requires that a hearing be held at the defendant's request. In the event that at that hearing the allegation of perjury or reckless disregard is established by the defendant by a preponderance of the evidence, and, with the affidavit's false material set to one side, the affidavit's remaining content is insufficient to establish probable cause, the search warrant must be voided and the fruits of the search excluded to the same extent as if probable cause was lacking on the fact of the affidavit. Id. at 155-56.

         First, Petitioner does not mention a search warrant in his arguments. He only states that Potts gave false testimony at trial and in a police statement. Petitioner never states that such false statements were used to obtain a search warrant. The government provided a copy of the three warrants that were issued in petitioner's criminal investigation. (Docs. 13-7, 8, & 9). As the government states, not one of these warrants reference the false statement by Mr. Potts that petitioner “put a gun to his head and threatened him.” Also, even if a false statement was included in one of the affidavits, there is no allegation by the petitioner that the individual[1] attesting to the warrants' affidavits knowingly and intentionally, or with reckless disregard for the truth, included the statement.

         The Court has reviewed the affidavits and has found each to be well supported by personal observation of the attester and other law enforcement agents along with various surveillance and recorded transactions.

         Petitioner's arguments that, “Counsel for the petitioner failed to obtain the phone records which would indicate that there were certain calls made by Potts to the petitioner which were not part of law enforcement operation” has no bearing on the warrants as these calls were not the basis for any of the warrants. Further, the government indicates that the records were provided to petitioner's counsel in discovery on March 10, 2010. (Doc. 13, pg 46, n. 14).

         The only issue with regard to a Franks hearing is whether a false statement knowingly and intentionally, or with reckless disregard for the truth, was including by the affiant in the warrant affidavit. Here, the petitioner has not made any showing, let alone a substantial showing, that such a statement was included. ...

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