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Sylvester v. United States

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

August 22, 2017

James Roy Sylvester, Jr., Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
United States of America, Respondent-Appellee.

          Argued: April 26, 2017

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan at Detroit. Nos. 1:03-cr-20008-1; 2:10-cv-15151-David M. Lawson, District Judge.

         ARGUED:

          Daniel J.T. Schuker, HOGAN LOVELLS U.S. LLP, Washington, D.C., for Appellant.

          Andrew Goetz, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Detroit, Michigan, for Appellee.

         ON BRIEF:

          Daniel J.T. Schuker, HOGAN LOVELLS U.S. LLP, Washington, D.C., for Appellant.

          Janet Parker, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Bay City, Michigan, Mark Chasteen, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Detroit, Michigan, for Appellee.

          Before: MERRITT, GILMAN, and DONALD, Circuit Judges

          OPINION

          BERNICE BOUIE DONALD, Circuit Judge.

          Petitioner James Roy Sylvester, Jr. was convicted by a federal jury of possession with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, possession with intent to distribute five grams or more of cocaine base, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking offense, felon in possession of a firearm, possession of marijuana, possession with intent to distribute oxycodone, diazepam, hydrocodone, and codeine, using interstate travel to acquire and transport five kilograms of cocaine, personally traveling in interstate commerce to acquire five kilograms of cocaine, and conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. He was sentenced to 35 years of imprisonment. A panel of this Court affirmed Sylvester's conviction and sentence on direct appeal. Sylvester then filed this present motion to vacate his sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 on the grounds that his trial and appellate counsel rendered ineffective assistance in failing to pursue his claims of Speedy Trial Act violations. The district court dismissed Sylvester's motion, finding that Sylvester failed to show that he was prejudiced by his counsels' allegedly deficient performances. Because the district court correctly determined that Sylvester failed to show prejudice, we AFFIRM the order dismissing Defendant's § 2255 motion.

         I.

         A.

         Sylvester was arrested in February 2003 in connection with a drug conspiracy intending to transport large quantities of cocaine and other illegal substances from California to Michigan. On February 26, 2003, a federal grand jury returned an indictment against Sylvester charging two counts of possession with intent to distribute various amounts of cocaine and crack cocaine. Later that same day, the government filed a first superseding indictment, changing the wording in counts one and two to reflect that Sylvester "knowingly" possessed the drugs referenced in the indictment (the "First Superseding Indictment"). On April 9, 2003, the government filed a second superseding indictment adding a charge for knowing possession of a firearm in furtherance of a federal drug-trafficking crime (the "Second Superseding Indictment"). On May 28, a third superseding indictment was filed adding eight new charges against Sylvester. Over the next year and a half, the government filed five additional superseding indictments, three of which added either new charges or co-defendants, while ...


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