United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ORDER DENYING IN PART MOVANT'S MOTION TO VACATE
SENTENCE PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 2255 ; AND
APPOINTING FEDERAL DEFENDER TO REPRESENT MOVANT AT
EVIDENTIARY HEARING ON REMAINING CLAIM FOR RELIEF
J. Tarnow Senior United States District Judge
12, 2017, Movant, Chris Coleman, filed a Motion to Vacate,
Set Aside, or Correct Sentence  pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255. On November 30, 2017, the Government filed a
Response . For the reasons stated below, the Motion to
Vacate Sentence  is DENIED in part with the remaining
issues to be decided after an evidentiary hearing.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
December 16, 2015, a grand jury returned a Superseding
Indictment  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
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.
Plea Agreement  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 . . . .
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
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.
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.
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