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United States v. Mathews

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Northern Division

February 28, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
KWAME AMIN MATHEWS, Defendant-Petitioner.

          Patricia T. Morris Magistrate Judge

          ORDER OVERRULING OBJECTIONS, ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION, DENYING MOTIONS TO VACATE, GRANTING MOTION TO SUPPLEMENT, GRANTNG MOTION TO DISMISS, DENYING SUPPLEMENTAL MOTION, DENYING MOTION FOR CREDIT TO FEDERAL SENTENCE, DENYING CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY, AND DENYING PERMISSION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS

          THOMAS L. LUDINGTON United States District Judge

         Defendant Kwame Amin Matthews pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the distribution of cocaine on October 8, 2014. ECF. Nos. 78, 95, 98. After being sentenced to 151 months incarceration, Matthews appealed. ECF Nos. 141, 147. On September 2, 2015, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals granted the government's motion to dismiss the appeal by relying on the appellate waiver provision in Matthews's plea agreement. ECF No. 169. On February 4, 2016, Matthews filed a motion to vacate his sentence under 28 U.S.C. 2255. ECF No. 199. The government filed a motion to dismiss Matthews's motion to vacate his sentence on February 29, 2016. ECF No. 207. On March 28, 2016, Matthews then filed a motion to supplement his prior motion. ECF No. 214. The government countered on April 12, 2016, by filing a motion to deny Matthew's supplemental motion. ECF No. 217.

         Between his original and supplemental motions, Matthews alleged that his attorney provided ineffective assistance of counsel and that his guilty plea was not voluntarily made. ECF No. 199 at 1; ECF No. 214 at 1. The government asserted that Matthews had waived his right to collaterally attack his sentence by entering into the Rule 11 plea agreement and that Matthews had waived his voluntariness argument by failing to raise it on direct appeal or in his initial § 2255 motion. On July 14, 2016, Judge Morris issued a report recommending that Matthews's motion to vacate his sentence be denied and the government's motion to dismiss be granted because Matthews waived his right to appeal. See Rep. & Rec. 4-7, ECF No. 239. Judge Morris also recommended that, even if not waived, the ineffective assistance of counsel claim should be dismissed because the alleged errors did not prejudice Matthews. Id. at 7-10. Finally, Judge Morris recommended that Matthews' motion to supplement his § 2255 motion be granted and that the government's motion to deny that supplemental motion be denied. ECF Nos. 214, 217.

         The same day Judge Morris issued her report and recommendation, Matthews filed an “amended motion to vacate sentence.” ECF No. 240. On August 4, 2016, Matthews filed two objections to the report and recommendation. ECF No. 241. Matthews has also filed a motion for a recommendation that his state jail time be credited to his federal sentence. ECF No. 242.

         Matthews's objections to the report and recommendation will be addressed first. Then, his amended motion to vacate his sentence and his motion for a recommendation that his state jail time be credited to his federal sentence will be addressed.

         I.

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72, a party may object to and seek review of a magistrate judge's report and recommendation. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(2). Objections must be stated with specificity. Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 151 (1985) (citation omitted). If objections are made, “[t]he district judge must determine de novo any part of the magistrate judge's disposition that has been properly objected to.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3). De novo review requires at least a review of the evidence before the magistrate judge; the Court may not act solely on the basis of a magistrate judge's report and recommendation. See Hill v. Duriron Co., 656 F.2d 1208, 1215 (6th Cir. 1981). After reviewing the evidence, the Court is free to accept, reject, or modify the findings or recommendations of the magistrate judge. See Lardie v. Birkett, 221 F.Supp.2d 806, 807 (E.D. Mich. 2002).

         Only those objections that are specific are entitled to a de novo review under the statute. Mira v. Marshall, 806 F.2d 636, 637 (6th Cir. 1986). “The parties have the duty to pinpoint those portions of the magistrate's report that the district court must specially consider.” Id. (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). A general objection, or one that merely restates the arguments previously presented, does not sufficiently identify alleged errors on the part of the magistrate judge. See VanDiver v. Martin, 304 F.Supp.2d 934, 937 (E.D. Mich. 2004). An “objection” that does nothing more than disagree with a magistrate judge's determination, “without explaining the source of the error, ” is not considered a valid objection. Howard v. Sec'y of Health and Human Servs., 932 F.2d 505, 509 (6th Cir. 1991). Without specific objections, “[t]he functions of the district court are effectively duplicated as both the magistrate and the district court perform identical tasks. This duplication of time and effort wastes judicial resources rather than saving them, and runs contrary to the purposes of the Magistrate's Act.” Id. Matthews has presented two objections to the report and recommendation.

         II.

         Judge Morris rested her report and recommendation primarily on a finding that Matthews knowingly and voluntarily entered into the plea agreement and thus waived his right to appeal or collaterally attack his conviction and sentence. Judge Morris noted that “the court, government counsel and defense counsel all concluded that Petitioner was capable of tendering a knowing plea . . . and Petitioner was noted to be following along as government counsel was summarizing the plea agreement provisions.” Rep & Rec. at 6, ECF No. 239. Matthews argues that he had been treated at a hospital for a concussion mere hours before entering into the plea. Id. at 5. But Judge Morris explained that “Petitioner does not connect ‘concussion' with any failure to understand what was happening or any other symptoms that would prevent his plea from being knowing or voluntary at the time of the plea taking.” Id. Judge Morris alternatively found that, even if the appeal waiver were unenforceable, Matthews's counsel was not ineffective and thus Matthews is not entitled to relief.

         1.

         In his first objection, Matthews again argues that his plea was not entered into voluntarily. Specifically, he asserts that his “counsel was ineffective in not requesting a psychological or medical evaluation” into the “extent of [Matthews's] head injury” and his other disorders. Objs. at 1, ECF No. 241. As Matthews characterizes his objection, his counsel was ineffective for 1) failing to investigate Matthews's medical and psychological background, 2) obtain a psychological evaluation of Matthews, and 3) assert psychological and medical background as “mitigating factors during plea negotiations or during [the] plea hearing.” Id. at 2.

         Matthews has not demonstrated an issue of fact regarding the voluntariness of his plea. Even if Matthews's allegations regarding the concussion are accurate, there is no evidence that ...


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