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Martin v. United States

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois

June 26, 2018

DARRIUS DONELL MARTIN, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          ORDER AND OPINION

          James E. Shadid Chief United States District Judge

         Now before the Court is Petitioner Martin's Motion (Doc. 1) to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. For the reasons set forth below, Petitioner's Motion (Doc. 1) is DENIED and the Court declines to issue a Certificate of Appealability.

         Background[1]

         On October 23, 2013, Darrius Martin was charged in the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois in a five-count indictment alleging the following offenses: Felon in Possession of a Firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g) and 924(a)(2) (Count 1); Distribution of Heroin, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(C) (Counts 2, 3, 4); and Possession with Intent to Distribute Heroin, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(C) (Count 5). R. 7. At the time Martin was charged with the above offenses, he was also on supervised release in two other federal criminal cases. In United States v. Martin, No. 99-40008 (C.D. Ill.), Martin pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine. In United States v. Martin, No. 12-40049 (S.D. Tex.), Martin was convicted of possession of shanks in the Bureau of Prisons. In 2013, petitions for revocation alleging a violation of supervised release were filed in both cases.

         On October 3, 2014, the Court held a change of plea hearing in No. 13-40060. A written plea agreement was also filed. R. 15. Therein, Martin agreed to plead guilty to Counts 1 and 2 of the Indictment, represented that he understood the elements for each charge to which he was pleading guilty, and acknowledged, inter alia, that he faced a possible mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years of imprisonment. As part of the plea agreement, Martin also waived his right to appeal his conviction or sentence, and further waived (with a limited exception) his right to collaterally attack his plea agreement, conviction, or sentence.

11. The defendant is aware that federal law, specifically, Title 28, Section 1291, affords a defendant a right to appeal a final decision of the district court and that federal law, specifically, Title 18, United States Code, Section 3742, affords a defendant a right to appeal the conviction and/or sentence imposed. Understanding those rights, and having thoroughly discussed those rights with the defendant's attorney, the defendant knowingly and voluntarily waives the right to appeal any and all issues relating to this plea agreement and conviction and to the sentence, including any fine or restitution, within the maximum provided in the statutes of conviction, and the manner in which the sentencing, including any fine or restitution, was determined, on any ground whatever, in exchange for the concessions made by the United States in this plea agreement, unless otherwise stated in this paragraph.
12. The defendant also understands that he has a right to attack his conviction and/or sentence collaterally on the grounds that it was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States; that he received ineffective assistance from his attorney; that the Court was without proper jurisdiction; or that the conviction and/or sentence were otherwise subject to collateral attack. The defendant understands such an attack is usually brought through a motion pursuant to Title 28, United States Code, Section 2255. The defendant and the defendant's attorney have reviewed Section 2255, and the defendant understands his rights under the statute. Understanding those rights, and having thoroughly discussed those rights with the defendant's attorney, the defendant knowingly and voluntarily waives his right to collaterally attack the conviction and/or sentence. The defendant's attorney has fully discussed and explained the defendant's right to attack the conviction and/or sentence collaterally with the defendant. The defendant specifically acknowledges that the decision to waive the right to challenge any later claim of the ineffectiveness of the defendant's counsel was made by the defendant alone notwithstanding any advice the defendant may or may not have received from the defendant's attorney regarding this right. Regardless of any advice the defendant's attorney may have given the defendant, in exchange for the concessions made by the United States in this plea agreement, the defendant hereby knowingly and voluntarily waives his right to collaterally attack the conviction and/or sentence. The rights waived by the defendant include his right to challenge the amount of any fine or restitution, in any collateral attack, including, but not limited to, a motion brought under Title 28, United States Code, Section 2255, excepting only those claims which relate directly to the negotiation of this waiver itself.

R. 15, at ¶¶ 11-12 (plea agreement).

         In exchange for Martin's plea of guilty, the United States made several concessions. First, the United States agreed to dismiss Counts 3 through 5 of the Indictment. Id. at ¶ 23. Additionally, the United States agreed that Martin would qualify for an offense level reduction pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 3E1.1. Id. at ¶ 14. Finally, the United States agreed to allow Martin the opportunity to provide substantial assistance to the United States in the investigation and prosecution of others in exchange for the United States' motion for or agreement to a reduced sentence at a later date. Id. at ¶¶ 17-18.

         At the change of plea hearing, the Court engaged in an extensive plea colloquy with Martin, assuring, inter alia, that he: (1) received a copy of the Indictment; (2) read and discussed the plea agreement with his counsel, and was satisfied with his counsel; (3) understood the terms of the plea agreement and that no one threatened him or made promises or assurances not set forth in the agreement; (4) understood and agreed to the appellate and collateral attack waivers; (5) acknowledged the factual basis for the plea was true and a basis for his plea of guilty; (6) understood the potential penalties he faced; and (7) understood that pleading guilty to the charges would be an admission that he violated his supervised release in his two prior federal criminal cases. R. 34.

         After going over the terms of the plea agreement with Martin, the Court engaged in the following exchange:

COURT: Do you have any questions at all about the charges against you?
MARTIN: No.
COURT: Your rights to trial?
MARTIN: No.
COURT: The potential penalties?
MARTIN: No.
COURT: The consequences of your plea?
MARTIN: No.

R. 34, at 16. The Court then accepted Martin's plea of guilty after finding that Martin was fully competent and capable of entering an informed plea, that he was aware of the nature of the charges and consequences of his plea, and that his plea was knowing and voluntary and supported by an independent factual basis. Id. at 17-18.

         On June 12, 2015, the Court held a combined sentencing hearing on the two violation petitions and his 2013 criminal case. R. 33 (sentencing transcript). With respect to the 2013 case, the only objection by the parties was whether Martin's prior convictions qualified him as an Armed Career Criminal under 18 U.S.C. § 924(e). If three or more Martin's prior convictions qualified under the Act, he faced a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years of imprisonment. The United States argued that Martin had four prior convictions that qualified him both as an Armed Career Criminal under the ACCA and as a Career Offender under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1: (1) conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine; (2) aggravated assault involving discharge of a firearm; (3) attempted armed robbery; and (4) possession of shanks in a federal correctional institution.The United States and Martin's counsel agreed that the convictions for aggravated assault and conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine qualified as ACCA and Career Offender predicates. R. 33, at 11-12. However, Martin's counsel, Donovan Robertson, argued that attempted armed robbery and possession of shanks in a federal correctional institution did not qualify under either the elements clause or residual clause of the ACCA. See 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(2)(B); R. 33, at 12.

         The Court agreed with the United States that all four of the prior convictions qualified as predicate offenses. Id. at 27. With respect to the conviction for possession of shanks in a federal correctional institution, the Court found that the offense qualified under the ACCA's residual clause, 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(2)(B)(ii). Id. at 27-28. The attempted armed robbery conviction, the Court found, qualified as a predicate offense under the ACCA's elements clause, § 924(e)(2)(B)(i). Id. at 28. The Court then adopted the Presentence Report (“PSR”), which found that although Martin qualified as both an Armed Career Criminal and a Career Offender, the Career Offender guideline was higher and thus controlled. Id. at 28-29; R. 24, at ¶ 31 (Presentence Report). Under the guidelines, Martin's total offense level of 31 and criminal history category of IV resulted in a guideline range of 188 to 235 months of imprisonment. After considering the PSR, arguments from the parties, the probation officer's recommendation, and the statutory factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a), the Court imposed concurrent sentences of 188 months of imprisonment on Counts 1 and 2 of the 2013 case, concurrent with a sentence of 24 months of imprisonment in the 2012 revocation case. Additionally, the Court sentenced Martin to 51 months of imprisonment in the 1999 revocation case, to be served consecutively to the sentence in the 2013 case. Thus, Martin's aggregate custodial sentence was 239 months of imprisonment. Id. at 42. Written judgment was entered on June 19, 2015, and no direct appeal was filed in any of the three cases.

         Almost a year later, on April 20, 2016, the United States filed a sealed motion in the 2013 case asking the Court to reduce Martin's sentence under Rule 35(b) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure because Martin had substantially assisted the United States in the investigation and prosecution of others since the time of his sentencing. R. 32. The Court held a hearing on the United States' motion where Martin was again represented by Donovan Robertson. Following the hearing, the Court agreed to reduce Martin's sentence by 70 months. Martin's new ...


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