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United States v. Reynolds

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

January 14, 2020

United States of America, Plaintiff/Respondent,
v.
Donald Steven Reynolds, Defendant/Petitioner.

          OPINION & ORDER

          Sean F. Cox, United States District Judge.

         Defendant/Petitioner Donald Steven Reynolds (“Reynolds”) was convicted of child pornography offenses following a jury trial. His conviction and sentence were affirmed on direct appeal, as was this Court's denial of Reynolds's post-appeal motion seeking a new trial. The matter is currently before the Court on Reynolds's pro se “Motion Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 To Vacate, Set Aside, Or Correct Sentence By A Person In Federal Custody” and related motions. For the reasons set forth below, the Court denies that motion, and the related motions, and declines to issue a certificate of appealability.

         BACKGROUND

         This criminal action against Reynolds followed an undercover investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (“F.B.I.”):

On April 7, 2011, undercover Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) Special Agent Ryan Blanton used a peer-to-peer file-sharing program to download images containing child pornography from a computer. The FBI traced the computer's internet-protocol address to Donald Reynolds's home in Canton, Michigan. On May 26, 2011, FBI agents executed a search warrant on the home and seized the desktop computer from which Blanton had downloaded the child-pornography images. In addition to Donald Reynolds, three other individuals regularly used that computer: Reynolds's two adult children who lived with him-Arica and Andrew Reynolds-and Arica's boyfriend, Michael Cook. All four individuals denied using the computer to view, download, or distribute child pornography. Reynolds admitted that he owned the computer and that he had an account at Match.com, an online dating service.
FBI computer forensic examiner Walker Sharp found on the computer's hard drive over 8, 000 child-pornography images that had been downloaded through a peer-to-peer file-sharing program. Sharp identified the following periods in May 2011 during which a user downloaded child pornography onto the computer.
• May 6, 2011 between 5:08 PM and 6:07 PM
• May 12, 2011 between 5:55 PM and 10:56 PM
• May 13, 2011 between 7:01 PM and 7:46 PM
• May 18, 2011 at approximately 2:24 PM
• May 23, 2011 between 9:42 PM and 10:23 PM
• May 24, 2011 between 7:01 AM and 7:40 AM and at 5:05 PM
• May 25, 2011 between 4:50 PM and 5:59 PM
The FBI analyzed cellphone records and concluded that, during the relevant download periods, Andrew, Arica, and Cook each had their cellphone activity that used cell towers that were geographically inconsistent with their being located at Reynolds's residence. In contrast, Reynolds made cellphone calls that used cell towers that were consistent with his being at his residence during the download periods. In addition to the cellphone evidence, Andrew was at work during four of the child- pornography download periods, and Arica and Cook were not present at the home during the May 25 download period. There was also activity through Reynolds's Match.com account on the computer during or near several child-pornography downloads periods.

United States v. Reynolds, 626 Fed.Appx. 610, 612-13 (6th Cir. 2015).

         “The government charged Reynolds with one count of receipt of child pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252(A)(a)(2); one count of distribution of child pornography based on sharing files with Agent Blanton on April 7, 2011, in violation of the same statute; and one count of possession of child pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252(A)(a)(5)(B).” Id. at 613.

         Reynolds proceeded to a jury trial. At trial, Reynolds was represented by his retained counsel, attorney John Freeman. The jury ultimately convicted Reynolds on all three counts.

         This Court applied a sentence enhancement under the advisory guidelines for possession of over 600 child-pornography images and sentenced Reynolds to 144 months of imprisonment. This Court also ordered Reynolds to pay a total of $26, 500 in restitution to two identified child-pornography victims.

         Reynolds filed a direct appeal, arguing that this Court erred in 1) admitting expert testimony at trial based on historical cell-site data; 2) permitting the government to call a rebuttal witness; 3) excluding two alibi witnesses (James Reynolds and Larry Bullock); 4) imposing a sentence enhancement; and 5) calculating the amount in restitution. The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit rejected all of those arguments and affirmed. United States v. Reynolds, 626 Fed.Appx. 610, 612-13 (6th Cir. 2015). Reynolds filed a petition for a writ of certiorari with the United States Supreme Court.

         On July 6, 2016, Reynolds filed a pro se Motion for New Trial, based on newly discovered evidence. (ECF No. 178). He also requested that this Court hold that motion in abeyance while he continues to search for new evidence that could support a motion for a new trial and filed a motion seeking grand jury transcripts. This Court denied that motion, and the related requests, in an Opinion and Order issued on September 2, 2016. (ECF No. 183). After this Court denied an untimely request to file a reply brief, Reynolds filed several reply briefs in violation of the Court's order, that were stricken by this Court.

         Reynolds appealed those rulings. The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed all of this Court's rulings. United States v. Reynolds, Case No. 16-2466 (6th Cir. June 28, 2017) (ECF No. 196). Among other things, the Sixth Circuit noted that this Court acted within its discretion when it “denied Reynolds's untimely motion to extend the time to file a reply brief and struck the reply briefs that Reynolds filed in violation of that order. See United States v. Galaviz, 645 F.3d 347, 363 (6th Cir. 2011).” Id. at 3.

         On October 3, 2017, the United States Supreme Court issued an order denying Reynolds's petition for a writ of certiorari as to his direct appeal (Case No. 14-1420). (ECF No. 198).

         On September 28, 2018, Reynolds filed a form “Motion Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 To Vacate, Set Aside, Or Correct Sentence By A Person In Federal Custody” (ECF No. 199 at Page ID 3890-3900) wherein he asserted the following four grounds for relief:

Ground One: “Mr. Reynolds' Right To Due Process Was Violated Where The Prosecution Knowingly Presented False Testimony.”
Ground Two: “Mr. Reynolds' Right To Due Process Was Violated Where The Prosecutor's Comments On Facts Not In Evidence Coupled With The Misrepresentation Of The Evidence Deprived Him Of A Fair Trial.”
Ground Three: “Mr. Reynolds Was Denied A Fair Trial, Where Counsel Rendered Ineffective Assistance Of Counsel By Failing To Adequately Investigate The Law And Facts Of The ...

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