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United States v. Hamilton

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

May 22, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
JEROME ADAM HAMILTON, Defendant-Petitioner.

          ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION UNDER 28 U.S.C. § 2255 [#622], DENYING DEFENDANT'S REQUEST TO WITHDRAW MOTION [#634], and DISMISSING WITH PREJUDICE CIVIL No. 19-10097

          Denise Page Hood, United States District Judge.

         I. Introduction

         On May 1, 2017, pursuant to a Rule 11 Plea Agreement, Defendant pleaded guilty to Counts 1 and 5 of the Superseding Indictment. [Dkt. No. 413] The undersigned imposed a sentence of 360 months. [Dkt. No. 554] Defendant filed a timely appeal of an Order to Strike [Dkt. No. 540], which the Sixth Circuit denied on January 3, 2019. [Dkt. No. 621]

         On January 10, 2019, Defendant filed a Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (the “2255 Motion”). [Dkt. No. 622] The Government filed a response on March 14, 2019. In a letter dated March 29, 2019 and filed on April 8, 2019, Defendant requested that the 2255 Motion be withdrawn (the “Request to Withdraw”). [Dkt. No. 634] The Government filed a response to the Request to Withdraw.

         II. Legal Standard

         A. 28 U.S.C. § 2255

         28 U.S.C. § 2255 authorizes a federal prisoner to move the district court to vacate a sentence. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). A defendant seeking relief under § 2255 “must allege as a basis for relief: (1) an error of constitutional magnitude; (2) a sentence imposed outside statutory limits; or (3) an error of fact or law that was so fundamental as to render the entire proceeding invalid.” Pough v. United States, 442 F.3d 959, 964 (6th Cir. 2006) (citing Mallett v. United States, 334 F.3d 491, 496-97 (6th Cir. 2003)). When raising claims alleging errors of constitutional magnitude, a defendant must show that the constitutional error had a substantial and injurious effect or influence on the proceedings. Brecht v. Abrahamson, 507 U.S. 619, 637-38 (1993); Watson v. United States, 165 F.3d 486, 488 (6th Cir. 1999). Further, relief under § 2255 requires a showing of “a fundamental defect which inherently results in a complete miscarriage of justice.” Davis v. U.S., 417 U.S. 333, 346 (1974).

         B. Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Claim

         Under the Sixth Amendment, a defendant has a right to “have the assistance of counsel for his defense.” U.S. Const. Amend. VI. A defendant under the Sixth Amendment has a right to “reasonably effective assistance of counsel.” Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687 (1984). In Strickland, the Supreme Court articulated a two-prong test for ineffective counsel:

First, the defendant must show that counsel's performance was deficient. This requires showing that counsel made errors so serious that counsel was not functioning as the “counsel” guaranteed the defendant by the Sixth Amendment. Second, the defendant must show that the deficient performance prejudiced the defense. This requires showing that counsel's errors were so serious as to deprive the defendant of a fair trial, a trial whose result is reliable. Unless a defendant makes both showings, it cannot be said that the conviction . . . resulted from a breakdown of the adversary process that renders the result unreliable.

Id.

         “There is a strong presumption that legal counsel is competent, ” United States v. Osterbrock, 891 F.2d 1216, 1220 (6th Cir. 1989), and “falls within the wide range of reasonable professional assistance.” Strickland, 466 U.S. at 689. A “reviewing court must give a highly deferential scrutiny to counsel's performance.” Ward v. United States, 995 F.2d 1317, 1321 (6th Cir. 1993). Further, “[t]he reasonableness of counsel's performance is to be evaluated from counsel's perspective at the time of the alleged error and in light of all the circumstances.” Kimmelman v. Morrison, 477 U.S. 365, 384 (1986). “The defendant must show that there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different. A reasonable probability is a probability sufficient to undermine confidence in the outcome.” Strickland, 466 U.S. at 694.

         III. Analysis

         A. ...


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