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United States v. Bates

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

May 29, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff/Respondent,
JAMES ROBERT BATES, Defendant/Petitioner.



         Before the Court is Petitioner James Robert Bates' motion to vacate, set aside or correct sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. (ECF no. 34.) The Court has jurisdiction over this motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, based on Petitioner's negotiated Rule 11 plea agreement in this Court on September 21, 2016. (ECF no. 26.) This Court is familiar with the previous proceedings, has reviewed the pleadings and supporting documentation, and Petitioner has suggested no evidence to support his motion. The motion, files and records of the case conclusively show that the Petitioner is entitled to no relief; Petitioner's claims do not raise a factual dispute and the Court finds that an evidentiary hearing on this matter is not necessary. See 28 U.S.C. § 2255(b). The Court has reviewed these pleadings and denies Petitioner's motion with prejudice.

         I. Background Facts and Procedural History

         The Government sets forth the following facts:

On February 9, 2016, at approximately 2:45 p.m., Bates entered the TCF Bank branch located at 8920 West 8 Mile Road, Royal Oak Township, Michigan. He wrote a demand note on a deposit slip that said: “This is a stick-up give me big bills you got less than 30 sec. no dye pack.” He then walked up to a bank teller and passed him the demand note. The bank teller gave Bates a total of 226 dollars. The money was comprised of three batch/bait bundles, and there was a GPS tracker inside one of the bundles. After receiving the money, Bates exited the bank.
Michigan State Police (MSP) were able to locate Bates using the GPS tracker. After a short foot pursuit, Bates was located hiding underneath a vehicle in the area of 19xxx Pinehurst Street in the city of Detroit. MSP recovered 128 dollars from his jacket pocket. TCF Bank provided a list of serial numbers that were on the bait bills given to the robber. The serial numbers on the money matched the serial numbers listed by TCF Bank. MSP also found the GPS tracker inside of the recovered money. Surveillance video from TCF Bank shows Bates committing the robbery.

(Gov't Resp. to Def.'s Mot. 3-4, ECF no. 42; see also Rule 11 Plea Agr. 2-3, ECF no. 26.) Petitioner states in his reply that he "is not debating or arguing with the prosecutor about [his] criminal history or [his] case." (Pet'r's Reply Br., ECF no. 45.)

         A grand jury indicted Petitioner on one count of bank robbery, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a). (Indictment, Apr. 19, 2016, ECF no. 8.) Petitioner pled guilty to that count on September 21, 2016. (Rule 11 Plea Agr., ECF no. 26.) The plea agreement contained the government and defense's “non-binding recommendation that the sentence of imprisonment be 120 months imprisonment.” (Rule 11 Plea Agr., ECF no. 26.) On January 30, 2017, the Court sentenced Petitioner to 120 months, to run concurrent with a state court sentence. (Judgment, ECF no. 33.) On May 4, 2017, Petitioner filed his motion to vacate sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. (Pet'r's Mot., ECF no. 34.)

         II. Standard

         28 U.S.C. § 2255 allows a prisoner in custody under sentence of a federal court to "move the court which imposed the sentence to vacate, set aside or correct the sentence" when "the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, or that the court was without jurisdiction to impose such sentence, or that the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law, or is otherwise subject to collateral attack." 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). Petitioner did not take a direct appeal from his conviction and sentence. However, “ineffective-assistance claims are subject to review in the district court, having been timely raised in the petitioner's § 2255 motion.” See Jackson v. U.S., 45 Fed.Appx. 382, 385 (6th Cir. 2002) (citing Hughes v. United States, 258 F.3d 453, 457, n.2 (6th Cir. 2001) (holding that petitioner did not procedurally default his ineffective assistance of counsel claim by failing to raise it on direct appeal)).

         III. Analysis

         Petitioner alleges ineffective assistance of counsel because neither of his attorneys ordered a psychological evaluation, he suffers from “bipolar depression schizophrenia” and he is “currently taking Zyprexa . . .” (Pet't'r's Mot., ECF no. 34.) He alleges that when he was “free” he was taking Seroquel, Abilify and Prozac. (Pet't'r's Mot., ECF no. 34.) He also wrote in his motion, “I am not getting the right medication.” (Pet't'r's Mot., ECF no. 34.) In his reply, Petitioner argues that he “want[s] a fair chance at a psychological evaluation to see where [his] mental capacity lies and to see if [he qualifies] for a downward departure.” (Pet't'r's Reply, ECF 45.)

         The Court applies the familiar Strickland analysis for ineffective assistance of counsel to Petitioner's claim. Strickland requires a petitioner to show: (1) counsel's performance was deficient by falling "below an objective standard of reasonableness" and (2) counsel's deficient performance prejudiced the defense. Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 688, 693-94 (1984); see also Hill v. Lockhart, 474 U.S. 52, 59 (1985).

         There is a strong presumption in favor of counsel's effectiveness. See Kimmelman v. Morrison, 477 U.S. 365, 381 (1986) (holding that counsel's performance be examined “from counsel's perspective at the time of the alleged error and in light of all the circumstances, ” a highly deferential standard) (internal citation omitted). The Supreme Court has advised that "[j]udicial scrutiny of counsel's performance must be highly deferential" and that "[t]he availability of intrusive post-trial inquiry into attorney performance or of detailed guidelines for its evaluation would encourage the proliferation of ineffectiveness ...

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