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United States v. Edmond

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

July 14, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
TRALVIS EDMOND, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          MATTHEW F. KENNELLY, District Judge

         Tralvis Edmond was convicted in 2012 of drug and gun charges and sentenced to a term of imprisonment. He has moved under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to set aside his conviction and sentence based on ineffective assistance of counsel. Edmond claims that his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance by (1) failing to file a motion to suppress evidence seized during a search and (2) failing to call Edmond to testify at a hearing on a motion to suppress statements he was claimed to have made while in custody.

         The Court conducted an evidentiary hearing on Edmond's first claim on June 16, 2016. The Court then determined that trial counsel's failure to file the motion to suppress was objectively unreasonable but reserved for later determination the issue of whether this failure prejudiced Edmond. See United States v. Edmond, No. 15 C 3566, 2016 WL 4179176 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 7, 2016). The Court now considers the issue of prejudice as well as Edmond's second claim for ineffective assistance of counsel based on counsel's failure to call Edmond to testify at the suppression hearing. For the reasons stated below, the Court denies Edmond's section 2255 motion.

         Background

         Edmond was convicted on firearms and narcotics charges, and the Court sentenced him to a prison term of eighty-four months. He has moved under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to set aside his conviction and sentence, alleging ineffective assistance of counsel. Specifically, Edmond contends that his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance by failing to file a motion to suppress evidence seized via the execution of a search warrant at 736 N. Ridgeway in Chicago. The evidence seized included the key evidence that was the basis for the charges against Edmond: two loaded firearms and significant amounts of heroin and crack cocaine packaged for distribution. Edmond also contends that his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance by failing to call him to testify at a hearing held by the judge then assigned to the case on a motion trial counsel had filed seeking to suppress a post-arrest statement that Edmond had given to the authorities.

         The standard governing both of Edmond's claims for ineffective assistance of counsel is the familiar two-part test established by Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984). The first question is whether counsel's action or inaction was objectively unreasonable. The second question is whether the defendant was prejudiced as a result of counsel's action or inaction. See Id. at 687-88, 693.

         The Court appointed counsel to represent Edmond in the section 2255 proceedings and held an evidentiary hearing to address certain contested factual issues. The Court elected to address first the question of whether Edmond's trial counsel had acted in an objectively unreasonable way in failing to file a motion to suppress the evidence seized in the search of the home on N. Ridgeway. The Court concluded that Edmond had made the necessary showing, specifically that counsel's decision not to file a motion to suppress was based on an objectively unreasonable misunderstanding of the law of Fourth Amendment "standing." See Edmond, 2016 WL 4179176, at *5.

         This leaves the following questions for the Court's determination: 1) whether Edmond was prejudiced by counsel's failure to file the motion to suppress the fruits of the search; 2) whether counsel's failure to call Edmond to testify at the hearing on the motion to suppress his statement was objectively unreasonable; and 3) if so, whether Edmond was prejudiced by counsel's failure to call him to testify at that hearing.

         On June 27, 2017, the Court held an evidentiary hearing regarding whether Edmond was prejudiced by counsel's failure to file the motion to suppress the fruits of the search. Specifically, the parties were asked to present evidence addressing whether Officer Frano, the Chicago police officer who obtained the search warrant, acted with reckless disregard for the truth when applying for the warrant. The Court will discuss this evidence in greater detail later in this opinion.

         Discussion

         A. Motion to suppress fruits of search

         As indicated, the Court previously concluded that trial counsel's decision not to file a motion to suppress was objectively unreasonable. The parties agree that the evidence seized in the search of the N. Ridgeway apartment was critical to the government's success in prosecuting Edmond. Thus the question is whether Edmond has shown a reasonable likelihood that a motion to suppress would have been successful had counsel filed it. See Strickland, 466 U.S. at 696; Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 111-12 (2011). Edmond argues that the motion would have been successful because no probable cause existed to support the search warrant and the good faith exception does not apply. Def. Tralvis Edmond's Mem. of Law Demonstrating that He Suffered Prejudice As a Result of His Trial Counsel's Objectively Unreasonable Performance (Def.'s Mem. on Prejudice) at 6-13.

         1. Probable cause

         The search was conducted pursuant to a warrant issued by a Cook County judge upon submission of an application by Officer John Frano stating the following:

The following facts are as follows: I, P.O. John Frano #11772 have been a Chicago police officer for the [sic] over 9 years and have made over 1000 narcotics related arrests. On the 18 may 2010 I had the opportunity to speak with a Registered Confidential Informant who R/O will refer to as RCI. R/O has known this RCI for the past 5 years during which time RCI has provided and been a reliable source of information concerning narcotics activities. On over 6 different occasions in the past two months R/O has acted upon the information provided by this RCI and on these occasions R/O has recovered illegal narcotics. From every occasion R/O made an arrest. Recovered narcotics from RCI information was submitted to the Illinois State Police crime lab for testing and analysis. On these occasions the crime lab found the presence of a controlled substance in items submitted.
On 18 May 2010 RCI related to R/O that RCI was at the residence of 736 N Ridgeway and in the presence of Edmond, Tralvis E. in the basement apartment. RCI related to R/O that RCI was in the rear of the apartment in an area with a bed. RCI related to R/O that Edmond, Tralvis E. walked over to the bed, pushed the mattress away from the wall and pulled from under the bed a shoe box. RCI related to R/O that Edmond, Tralvis E. then opened the shoe box at which point RCI observed 20-30 golf ball sized clear plastic bags filled to the top of the ...

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