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Shadlee v. United States

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

November 30, 2017

JASON L. SHADLE, Plaintiff,



         This matter comes before the Court on petitioner Jason L. Shadle's motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. (Doc. 1.) In 2014, the Government charged the petitioner with conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine (Count I), two counts of possession of equipment, chemicals, products, or materials used to manufacture methamphetamine (Counts II-III), and possession of pseudoephedrine knowing it would be used to manufacture methamphetamine (Count IV). The petitioner pled guilty to all four counts in an open plea in front of this Court on October 22, 2014. In February 2015, this Court sentenced petitioner to a term of 216 months on Count I and 120 months on Counts II-IV, all to run concurrently, with a four-year term of supervised release following the prison sentence. The Court also ordered petitioner to pay a fine of $200.00 and a special assessment of $400.00.

         Petitioner did not appeal his conviction.

         In his § 2255 motion, timely filed on February 26, 2016, the petitioner raises the following claims of ineffective assistance of counsel in violation of his Sixth Amendment rights:

Ground 1: Pretrial counsel's failure to (1) conduct an adequate and independent pretrial investigation; (2) communicate with Shadle and inform him of the relevant circumstances and likely consequences of pleading guilty as opposed to proceeding to trial; and (3) attempt to negotiate a favorable plea agreement [which] deprived Shadle of effective assistance of pretrial counsel under the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
Ground 2: Sentencing counsel's failure to (1) review, discuss, and explain the PSR with Shadle prior to the sentencing hearing; (2) file objections to the PSR; (3) argue for mitigation of punishment; and (4) file a fair notice of appeal [that] deprived him of effective assistance of counsel, a fair and just sentence, and a fair and meaningful appellate review.

(Doc. 1.) The Court directed the petitioner to supplement his § 2255 petition with an additional memorandum because many of his claims were vague. (Doc. 2.) On March 29, 2016, the petitioner filed his memorandum and the Court directed the government to respond. (Docs. 3, 4.) The Government filed its initial response (Doc. 9) and the Court held a hearing on the issue of whether counsel failed to appeal on August 8, 2016. Petitioner appeared by video conference and his former counsel, John R. Clemons, testified. After hearing the testimony and arguments, the Court found that petitioner did not request an appeal, but reserved ruling on the remaining issues in petitioner's motion. On November 18, 2016, and at the Court's leave, the Government filed a response to the remaining matters in petitioner's motion. (Doc. 24.) All of the claims have been fully briefed and the Court finds that an additional hearing is not warranted.

         I. § 2255 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 only available ‘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).

         Shadle's arguments for § 2255 relief all allege that his counsel was constitutionally ineffective in numerous ways in violation of his Sixth Amendment rights. The Sixth Amendment 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) (emphasis added); 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 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 sufficient to undermine confidence in an outcome.” Adams, 453 F.3d at 435 (citing Strickland, 466 U.S. at 694).

         In a case where a petitioner pled guilty as a result of alleged ineffective assistance of counsel, there is an additional inquiry. To satisfy the first prong of the Strickland test in this scenario, the petitioner must show that his counsel's advice leading to the plea was outside the range of professionally competent assistance. Hill v. Lockhart, 474 U.S. 52, 56-57 (1985) (citing McMann, 397 U.S. at 771); (Tollett v. Henderson, 411 U.S. 258, 267 (1973)). To satisfy the second Strickland prong, he must show that there is a reasonable probability that but for his counsel's deficient performance, he would not have entered a guilty plea and instead would have gone to trial. Hill, 474 U.S. at 58; United States v. Parker, 609 F.3d 891, 894 (7th Cir. 2010); Wyatt, 574 F.3d at 458 (7th Cir. 2009); Richardson v. United States, 379 F.3d 485, 487 (7th Cir. 2004). Counsel's deficient performance must have been a decisive factor in the defendant's decision to enter a guilty plea. Wyatt, 574 F.3d at 458; see Julian v. Bartley, 495 F.3d 487, 498 (7th Cir. 2007). To make such a showing, the petitioner must present objective evidence that he would not have entered a guilty plea; his own self-serving testimony that he would have insisted on going to trial is not enough. Koons v. United States, 639 F.3d 348, 351 (7th Cir. 2011); McCleese v. United States, 75 F.3d 1174, 1179 (7th Cir. 1996) (citing Toro v. Fairman, 940 F.2d 1065, 1068 (7th Cir. 1991)); see Wyatt, 574 F.3d at 458 (stating “a defendant's mere allegation that he would have chosen a path other than the conditional plea is insufficient by itself to establish prejudice.”). Similarly, when a § 2255 petitioner faults his attorney for failing to object or present evidence at sentencing, he bears the burden of demonstrating what evidence the attorney should have presented and that the presentation of such evidence had a reasonable probability of changing the result. Fuller v. United States, 398 F.3d 644, 652 (7th Cir. 2005); Berkey v. United States, 318 F.3d 768, 774 (7th Cir. 2003).

         II. ...

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