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Detzler v. United States

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

May 31, 2018


          Patricia T. Morris, Magistrate Judge



         On September 21, 2016, Petitioner Jake Henry Detzler (Petitioner) pled guilty to two counts of abusive sexual contact in violation of 18 U.S.C. §13, 1151, 1153, and 2244(a)(1). ECF No. 16. A judgment filed on January 12, 2017, sentenced Petitioner to 120 months' incarceration on each count, to be served consecutively, and five years of supervised release on each count, to be served consecutively. ECF No. 23. Petitioner did not file an appeal. On January 17, 2018, Petitioner filed the instant motion to vacate his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 based on ineffective assistance of counsel. ECF No. 24. The motion was referred to Magistrate Judge Patricia T. Morris. ECF No. 26. The government responded (ECF No. 29), and Petitioner replied (ECF No. 30).


         In his motion to vacate, Petitioner alleges four errors by his counsel. First, Petitioner contends his counsel failed to object to the multiplicity in counts one and two of the indictment, which Petitioner contends constituted a single, continuous course of conduct as opposed to two distinct criminal acts. Mot. at PGID 108, ECF No. 24. Second, Petitioner contends his counsel erred in failing to challenge “whether the alleged level of ‘force' used by the defendant in the charged conduct, was a categorical match to the force element in 18 U.S.C. 2241(a)(1).” Id. at PGID 109. Third, Petitioner contends his counsel failed to investigate and review material evidence, including “the stark and axiomatic discrepancies (and ‘reasonable doubt' raised by those discrepancies), as contained in the statements of the victim and that of the eyewitness to the alleged crime.” Id. Fourth, Petitioner contends that his counsel provided erroneous advice concerning his sentencing exposure, which caused him to accept a plea agreement he would not have otherwise accepted. Id. Judge Morris found that Petitioner had failed to satisfy the two-prong test set forth in Strickland v. Washington. 466 U.S. 668 (1984), and that Petitioner had identified no factual issue to be explored at an evidentiary hearing. Accordingly, Judge Morris recommended denying Petitioner's motion. ECF No. 31. Petitioner filed objections to Judge Morris's report and recommendation. ECF No. 32.



         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.


         To prevail on a § 2255 motion “‘a petitioner must demonstrate the existence of an error of constitutional magnitude which had a substantial and injurious effect or influence on the guilty plea or the jury's verdict.'” Humphress v. United States, 398 F.3d 855, 858 (6th Cir. 2005) (quoting Griffin v. United States, 330 F.3d 733, 736 (6th Cir. 2003)). Non-constitutional errors are generally outside the scope of section 2255 relief. United States v. Cofield, 233 F.3d 405, 407 (6th Cir. 2000). A movant can prevail on a section 2255 motion alleging non-constitutional error only by establishing a “‘fundamental defect which inherently results in a complete miscarriage of justice, or, an error so egregious that it amounts to a violation of due process.'” Watson v. United States, 165 F.3d 486, 488 (6th Cir. 1999) (quoting United States v. Ferguson, 918 F.2d 627, 630 (6th Cir. 1990) (internal quotation marks omitted)).

         Claims of ineffective assistance of counsel are governed by the two-pronged test set forth in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, (1984). First, the movant must show that counsel's performance was deficient in that it fell below an objective standard of reasonableness. Id. at 688. “Constitutionally effective counsel must develop trial strategy in the true sense - not what bears a false label of ‘strategy' - based on what investigation reveals witnesses will actually testify to, not based on what counsel guesses they might say in the absence of a full investigation.” Ramonez v. Berghuis, 490 F.3d 482, 488 (6th Cir. 2007). Second, the movant must show that he was prejudiced by the deficiency to such an extent that the result of the proceeding is unreliable. Strickland, 466 U.S. at 688. It is not enough to show that the alleged error “had some conceivable effect on the outcome of the proceeding.” Id. Rather, the movant must show that, but for counsel's errors, the result would have been favorably different. Id. at 693. Failure to make the required showing under either prong of the Strickland test defeats the claim. Id. at 700.


         Petitioner raises two objections to Judge Morris's report. The ...

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