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United States v. Boyle

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

April 2, 2019

UNITED STATESOFAMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
ANNGELABOYLE, Defendants.

          United States Magistrate Judge David R. Grand

          OPINION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO VACATE SENTENCE [#96]

          HON. GERSHWIN A. DRAIN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         Defendant Anngela Boyle was sentenced to thirty years in federal prison after pleading guilty to two counts of Aiding and Abetting the Production of Child Pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2251(a) and 18 U.S.C. § 2. She now moves to vacate her sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255.

         Present before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Vacate Sentence. Dkt. 96. An evidentiary hearing was held on March 29, 2019. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will DENY Defendant's Motion [#96].

         II. Procedural Background

         Defendant filed the instant Motion challenging her sentence on October 15, 2018. Dkt. No. 96. On November 7, 2018, the Court entered an Order advising Defendant that if she chose to proceed with the Motion, this would require waiving her attorney-client privilege, so the Government could investigate her claims. Dkt. No. 101. The Court gave Defendant thirty days to withdraw her Motion, or else, the Court would construe that as a waiver of the attorney-client privilege. See Id. Defendant did not withdraw her Motion. Hence, on December 12, 2018, the Court entered an Order finding Defendant had waived her attorney-client privilege to the extent necessary to litigate her claims. Dkt. No. 103.

         III. Legal Standard

         28 U.S.C. § 2255 provides prisoners with a mechanism to raise collateral attacks on their sentence. See 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). Unless the prisoner's motion conclusively shows that they are entitled to no relief, the court shall notify and serve the United States attorney, grant a prompt hearing, and determine the issues -- making findings of fact and conclusions of law. See 28 U.S.C. § 225(b). If the court finds that a judgment was rendered without jurisdiction, or that the sentence imposed was not authorized by law or otherwise open to collateral attack, or that there has been a denial or infringement of the constitutional rights of the prisoner such as to render the judgment vulnerable to collateral attack, the court shall vacate and set the judgment aside and shall discharge the prisoner or resentence him or grant a new trial or correct the sentence as may appear appropriate. See id.

         IV. Discussion

         Defendant moves to set aside her sentence on grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel. Specifically, she raises four claims: (1) Defense counsel failed to file a notice of appeal when one was requested; (2) Defense counsel failed to challenge the disparity in her sentence; (3) Defense counsel failed to challenge the calculation of her restitution; and (4) Defense counsel failed to challenge her sentence enhancement. Dkt. No. 96.[1]

         To establish a claim for ineffective assistance of counsel, a defendant must show that (1) her attorney's representation fell below an objective standard of reasonableness, and (2) there is a reasonable probability that this deficiency prejudiced the outcome. See Hill v. Lockhart, 474 U.S. 52, 57-60 (1985); United States v. Carter, 355 F.3d 920, 924 (6th Cir. 2004). The Sixth Circuit has instructed reviewing courts to “indulge a strong presumption that counsel's conduct falls within the wide range of reasonable professional assistance.” Groseclose v. Bell, 130 F.3d 1161, 1167 (6th Cir. 1997) (quoting Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 689 (1984)). Under this backdrop, the Court will analyze each of Defendant's claims, in turn, below.

         1. There is no Evidence Suggesting Defendant Sought to File an Appeal of Her Sentence.

         At the evidentiary hearing, Defendant's trial counsel, Natasha Webster, testified that immediately following Defendant's sentencing on September 27, 2017, she met with Defendant in lockup and discussed her limited appeal options.[2]According to Ms. Webster, Defendant expressed that ...


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