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Hawkins v. United States

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

May 9, 2017

SCOTT HAWKINS, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          AMY J. ST. EVE, District Court Judge.

         On October 12, 2016, pro se Petitioner Scott Hawkins filed his first amended motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. After the parties briefed the present § 2255 motion, Petitioner moved to supplement the record, which the Court granted on December 21, 2016. On April 24, 2017, Petitioner filed a Discovery Status Report and supplemented the record with his Illinois Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) request and response. For the following reasons, the Court denies Petitioner's first amended § 2255 motion and declines to certify any issues for appeal. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 2253(c)(2), 2255. [12].

         BACKGROUND

         On March 1, 2012, a grand jury returned an indictment charging Petitioner and his co-defendant, Lester Warfield, with one count of bank robbery in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a). After Warfield pleaded guilty, Petitioner proceeded to trial on November 18, 2013. On November 20, 2013, the jury returned a verdict of guilty on the bank robbery count. On May 14, 2014, the Court sentenced Petitioner to 100 months in prison.

         Petitioner then filed a notice of appeal on May 22, 2014. On appeal, the Seventh Circuit explained the relevant facts as follows:

On February 3, 2012, two men robbed a Chase Bank located on West Irving Park Road in Chicago's North Side. When Lester Warfield was arrested on the day of the robbery, he told the FBI that he had robbed the bank with Scott Hawkins. The following month, Hawkins and Warfield were indicted for the robbery in the Northern District of Illinois. Subsequently, on November 30, 2012, Warfield held a proffer session with the government. During that session, he recanted his initial statement to the FBI and, instead of Hawkins, now alleged that he had robbed the bank with James Brooks, also known as “Stank.” (Earlier that year, Warfield also told a confidential informant in prison that a masked bank robber depicted on television was a “co-defendant” of Warfield's who went by the nickname “Stank.”) Warfield eventually pleaded guilty to the bank robbery in October 2013; notwithstanding his prior statements, however, Warfield refused to identify the other robber during his plea colloquy.
Prior to trial, Hawkins moved to admit Warfield's November 30 proffer statement regarding Brooks's supposed involvement in the robbery. Because Warfield intended to assert his Fifth Amendment privilege not to testify, Hawkins argued that the proffer statement was admissible under Federal Rule of Evidence 804(b)(3) as a statement against penal interest made by an unavailable witness. The district court denied Hawkins's motion and excluded Warfield's proffer statement on grounds that the statement was not supported by corroborating circumstances that clearly indicated its trustworthiness. See Fed.R.Evid. 804(b)(3)[(B)].

United States v. Hawkins, 803 F.3d 900, 901 (7th Cir. 2015). In short, the Seventh Circuit affirmed Petitioner's conviction concluding that the Court did not err in determining that Warfield's statement lacked sufficient corroborating circumstances to be admissible under Rule 804(b)(3)(B). See Id. at 902-03. This timely § 2255 motion followed.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         “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). In other words, to obtain relief under § 2255, a petitioner must show that his “sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, the court lacked jurisdiction, the sentence was greater than the maximum authorized by law, or it is otherwise subject to collateral attack.” Swanson v. United States, 692 F.3d 708, 714 (7th Cir. 2012) (citation omitted). Accordingly, a § 2255 motion is not a substitute for a direct appeal nor is it a means by which a defendant may appeal the same claims a second time. See Bousley v. United States, 523 U.S. 614, 621, 118 S.Ct. 1604, 140 L.Ed.2d 828 (1998) (relief under § 2255 “will not be allowed to do service for an appeal”). If a § 2255 petitioner does not raise a claim on direct appeal, that claim is barred from the Court's collateral review unless the petitioner can demonstrate cause for the procedural default and actual prejudice from the failure to appeal, or that enforcing the procedural default would lead to a fundamental miscarriage of justice. See Brown v. Brown, 847 F.3d 502, 518 (7th Cir. 2017). Because Sixth Amendment claims of ineffective assistance of counsel often involve evidence outside of the trial record, such claims may be brought for the first time in a § 2255 motion. See Massaro v. United States, 538 U.S. 500, 504, 123 S.Ct. 1690, 155 L.Ed.2d 714 (2003).

         ANALYSIS

         I. Ineffective Assistance of Trial Counsel Claims

         Construing his pro se § 2255 motion and filings liberally, see Beal v. Beller, 847 F.3d 897, 902 (7th Cir. 2017), Petitioner argues that his trial counsel provided constitutionally ineffective assistance of counsel. To establish constitutionally ineffective assistance of trial counsel in violation of the Sixth Amendment, Petitioner must show that (1) his trial attorney's performance “fell below an objective standard of reasonableness, ” informed by “prevailing professional norms” and (2) “but for counsel's unprofessional errors the result of the proceeding would have been different.” Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 688, 694, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed.2d 674 (1984). “To reflect the wide range of competent legal strategies and to avoid the pitfalls of review in hindsight, [the Court's] review of an attorney's performance is highly deferential and reflects a strong presumption that counsel's conduct falls within the wide range of reasonable professional assistance.” Groves v. United States, 755 F.3d 588, 591 (7th Cir. 2014) (citation omitted); see also Delatorre, v. United States, 847 F.3d 837, 845 (7th Cir. 2017) (courts apply a “‘strong presumption' that counsel's representation was within the ‘wide range' of reasonable professional assistance.”) (citation omitted). To establish prejudice, it is not enough “to show that the errors had some conceivable effect on the outcome of the proceeding, ” instead Petitioner must demonstrate “a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different.” Carter v. Butts, 760 F.3d 631, 635 (7th Cir. 2014) (citation omitted). If Petitioner fails to make a proper showing under one of the Strickland prongs, the Court need not consider the other. See Strickland, 466 U.S. at 697 (“a court need not determine whether counsel's performance was deficient before examining the prejudice suffered by the defendant”).

         A. Failure to ...


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