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Goode v. United States

June 1, 2007

AMANDA JO GOODE PETITIONER,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jarvis

MEMORANDUM

This is a motion to vacate, set aside or correct sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 filed by petitioner Amanda Jo Goode ("Goode"). There is also pending before the court a motion filed by Goode seeking a transcript of her sentencing hearing. Goode does not state why she desires a transcript of her sentencing hearing and such a transcript is not necessary to resolve this matter. Accordingly, the motion for transcript will be DENIED. For the following reasons, the § 2255 motion will be DENIED and this action will be DISMISSED. All other pending motions will be DENIED as MOOT.

I. Standard of Review

This court must vacate and set aside Goode's conviction upon a finding that "there has been such a denial or infringement of the constitutional rights of the prisoner as to render the judgment vulnerable to collateral attack." 28 U.S.C. § 2255. To prevail under § 2255, Goode "must show 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." United States v. Ferguson, 918 F.2d 627, 630 (6th Cir. 1990) (quoting Hill v. United States, 368 U.S. 424, 428 (1968)).

Under Rule 8 of the Rules Governing Section 2255 Proceedings In The United States District Courts, the court is to determine after a review of the answer and the records of the case whether an evidentiary hearing is required. If the motion to vacate, the answer and the records of the case show conclusively that Goode is not entitled to relief under § 2255, there is no need for an evidentiary hearing. Baker v. United States, 781 F.2d 85, 92 (6th Cir. 1986).

II. Factual Background

Goode pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute fifty (50) grams or more of cocaine base, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(A); two counts of distributing cocaine base were dismissed pursuant to the plea agreement. Goode was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 108 months. The sentence was below the statutory mandatory minimum of ten years as a result of the government's motion for downward departure for substantial assistance. In support of her § 2255 motion, Goode alleges several instances of ineffective assistance of counsel.

III. Discussion

In Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984), the United States Supreme Court established a two-part standard for evaluating claims of ineffective assistance of 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. Id. at 687.

To establish that her attorney was not performing "within the range of competence demanded of attorneys in criminal cases," McMann v. Richardson, 397 U.S. 759, 771 (1970), Goode must demonstrate that the attorney's representation "fell below an objective standard of reasonableness." Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. at 687-88. In judging an attorney's conduct, a court should consider all the circumstances and facts of the particular case. Id. at 690. Additionally, "a court must indulge a strong presumption that counsel's conduct falls within the wide range of reasonable professional assistance; that is, the defendant must overcome the presumption that, under the circumstances, the challenged action 'might be considered sound trial strategy.'" Id. at 689 (quoting Michel v. Louisiana, 350 U.S. 91, 101 (1955)).

Goode alleges the following instances of ineffective assistance of counsel: (1) counsel misinformed Goode that she was going to receive five years; (2) counsel refused to argue for a downward departure based upon minor role, diminished capacity, and substantial assistance; (3) counsel ignored Goode's request to see the evidence against her in order to prepare a defense; and (4) counsel refused to file a direct appeal when asked to do so.

Count One of the indictment in this case charged that Goode was involved in a conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine base, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(A). [Criminal Action No. 3:03-cr-006, Court File No. 1, Indictment, pp. 1-2]. Section 841(b)(1)(A) sets forth a minimum mandatory term of imprisonment of ten years for an offense involving 50 grams or more of cocaine base.

In her plea agreement, Goode agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine base. [Criminal Action No. 3:03-cr-006, Court File No. 23, Plea Agreement, p. 1, ¶ 1]. Goode acknowledged that her attorney had fully explained the charges against her, the potential penalties, and any available defenses to the charges. [Id. at 4, ¶ 10]. Goode specifically acknowledged that she was facing a minimum mandatory term of imprisonment of ten years to life. [Id. at 1-2, ¶ 1]. Goode also acknowledged her understanding that any motion for a downward departure below the minimum mandatory term of imprisonment was within the exclusive authority of the United States. [Id. at 3-4, ¶ 8]. Finally, Goode acknowledged that the plea agreement constituted "the full and ...


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