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Movant v. United States

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

May 10, 2018

Chris Coleman, Movant,
v.
United States of America, Respondent.

          ORDER DENYING IN PART MOVANT'S MOTION TO VACATE SENTENCE PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 2255 [181]; AND APPOINTING FEDERAL DEFENDER TO REPRESENT MOVANT AT EVIDENTIARY HEARING ON REMAINING CLAIM FOR RELIEF

          Arthur J. Tarnow Senior United States District Judge

         On July 12, 2017, Movant, Chris Coleman, filed a Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence [181] pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. On November 30, 2017, the Government filed a Response [211]. For the reasons stated below, the Motion to Vacate Sentence [181] is DENIED in part with the remaining issues to be decided after an evidentiary hearing.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On December 16, 2015, a grand jury returned a Superseding Indictment [70] charging Mr. Coleman, among others, with: Conspiracy to Distribute and to Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin (Count I); Conspiracy to Distribute and to Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin Within 1000 Feet of an Outdoor Facility Containing a Playground (Count III); and Distribution of Heroin Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury (Count IV).

         On March 14, 2016, Mr. Coleman pleaded guilty to Counts I and IV pursuant to a Rule 11 Plea Agreement (“Plea Agreement”). Count IV, Distribution of Heroin Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury, carried a mandatory minimum penalty of 20 years of imprisonment.

         The Plea Agreement [106] provided that Mr. Coleman, along with seven other named defendants, agreed to possess and distribute heroin in Detroit from 2012 to 2015. The Plea Agreement further provided:

. . . CHRIS COLEMAN, knowingly and intentionally distributed a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of heroin, a Schedule I controlled substance, which distribution resulted in the serious bodily injury of another person, D.K., from the use of such substance. All parties agree that D.K. experienced serious bodily injury due to the fact that he was unconscious and barely breathing after ingesting the heroin provided by COLEMAN . . . .

         Mr. Coleman's sentencing guidelines' range was 360 months (30 years) to life. The parties agreed to a sentence of 240 months (20 years), the mandatory minimum for Count IV. In addition, upon the Court's acceptance of the Plea Agreement, the Government agreed to dismiss Count III and further agreed not to file an enhancement under 21 U.S.C. § 851 which would have required the imposition of a life sentence.

         At the Plea Hearing, Mr. Coleman acknowledged the minimum and maximum penalties for Counts I and IV. Plea Hr'g Tr. 6:4-10, Mar. 14, 2016. Throughout the Plea Hearing, the Court repeatedly asked Mr. Coleman whether he understood the proceedings and clarified: “I am asking you all these [‘]do you understand['] questions because that is my job, to make sure you know the consequences of pleading guilty.” Id. at 6:11-13. Moreover, Mr. Coleman stated that he went over the Plea Agreement with his attorney. Id. at 9:22-24. The Court accepted Mr. Coleman's plea as voluntary.

         On July 11, 2016, the Court held a Sentencing Hearing. Neither party objected to the Presentence Report and the guidelines' range of 360 months (30 years) to life. Sent'g Hr'g Tr. 5:14-18; 6:11-19, July 11, 2016. In recommending a sentence of 240 months (20 years), the Government stated:

Your Honor, this is a situation where there is a mandatory penalty of 20 years . . . . Heroin is a serious problem. Two hundred forty months is a serious sentence. It is obviously below the guideline range. It's also much less than what could have been the case had we filed a sentencing enhancement that would have resulted in mandatory life.

Id. at 7:2-10.

         Mr. Coleman's attorney similarly recommended a 240-month (20-year) sentence, noting:

Your Honor, this is a serious matter. Mr. Coleman recognizes that. This will be the longest sentence he has ever served. I believe that it was appropriate and that's one of the reasons that the Government and we were able to come to our agreement. We are hoping the Court will follow it and ...

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