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Lamb v. United States

August 20, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: R. Allan Edgar United States District Judge


Petitioner Damien C. Lamb has filed a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct a sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. [Court Doc. No. 1]. The Government opposes Lamb's motion. [Court Doc. No. 8]. As stated infra, this court has concluded that a hearing is not necessary and that Lamb's Section 2255 motion is without merit and will be DENIED.

I. Procedural History and Background Facts

On May 14, 2003, a United States grand jury sitting for the Eastern District of Tennessee, Chattanooga Division, returned a second superseding indictment against Lamb charging him with one count of conspiring to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine hydrochloride, one count of possession of cocaine hydrochloride with intent to distribute, one count of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, and one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. The indictment alleged that seven other defendants conspired with Lamb on the conspiracy to distribute charge. [Court Doc. No. 74].

On September 15, 2003 Lamb pled guilty pursuant to a plea agreement signed with the government. [Court Doc. No. 128]. The plea agreement provided that Lamb agreed to plead guilty to Count One, the conspiracy to distribute more than 5 kilograms of cocaine hydrochloride, and Count Five, possession of a firearm in furtherance of the drug trafficking crime in Count One. Id. The government agreed to move for dismissal of the third and fourth count of the indictment. The plea agreement provided that the parties agreed to the following description of the factual circumstances of the crimes Lamb committed:

From approximately February 2000 through June 2002, defendant conspired with others in Bedford County, Tennessee, to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine hydrochloride (powder). In early 2000, defendant began to purchase cocaine from Matthew Kelly. Eventually, Kelly introduced defendant to a supplier located in Atlanta, Georgia. Defendant began acquiring cocaine from the Atlanta source and would bring it back to Bedford County to distribute to Kelly and others, including James Seibers, who would then sell the cocaine and then pay defendant. The amount of cocaine distributed by the defendant to others in the conspiracy exceeded five kilograms. On February 7, 2001, agents with the local Drug Task Force executed a search warrant at Lamb's residence in Bedford County, in the EDTN. Lamb was present at the time. The agents found 161.3 grams of cocaine powder (lab tested by the TBI) and 582.0 grams of marijuana (lab tested by the TBI). A Ruger 9 mm handgun and a magazine containing 10 rounds were found in the bedroom. Two boxes of 9 mm ammunition were found in the hallway closet. Some of the cocaine and some of the marijuana were found in the bedroom. Other cocaine was found in the back of a grandfather clock in the living room. A large amount of currency, about $28,910.00, was found in various places in the home. [Court Doc. No. 128, ¶ 11].

The plea agreement also proved that:

[t]he defendant expressly waives the right to file any motions or pleadings pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 on any ground, other than ineffective assistance of counsel, prosecutorial misconduct, or subsequent change in the interpretation of the law which may affect his case. Thus, the defendant knowingly, intentionally, and voluntarily waives his right to collaterally attack the plea being offered in the instant case. The defendant further acknowledges that a breach of this clause of the plea agreement (like the defendant's breach of any other clause of the plea agreement) would leave the United States free to withdraw from the plea agreement. [Court Doc. No. 128, ¶ 8].

During the rearraignment proceedings on September 15, 2003, this court asked Lamb whether he understood the charges against him in Count Five of the second superseding indictment. The colloquy between the court and Lamb with respect to this charge was as follows:

The Court: . . .in connection with this [Count Five] the government would have to prove certain things before you could be convicted. And they'd have to prove these by beyond a reasonable doubt.

First, is that you committed the crime that we've already discussed in connection with Count 1 . . . Second, that you possessed a firearm. You had one under your control.

And, finally, that the reason you had it was in connection with your drug offense, either to protect drugs, cash, yourself, or some other way to further the drug trafficking crime. Do you think you understand what you're charged with there in Count 5?

Defendant Lamb: Yes, sir.

The Court: And knowing what that is, do you still want to plead guilty to Count 5?

Defendant Lamb: Yes, I do.

Rearraignment Proceedings, Sept. 15, 2003, Vol. I, p. 15.

The court also reviewed Lamb's plea agreement with him and another defendant pleading guilty at the same time. The court stated the following:

The Court: The agreements each of them, also, provide that you are giving up, each of you, one of the means which you would otherwise have to challenge the validity of your convictions in this case. We call this a habeas corpus petition sometimes. It's referred to here in Paragraph 8 of your agreements, in both of the agreements it's Paragraph 8. You are giving up your right to challenge your conviction in this manner except for certain reasons that are specified here.

Do you understand that, ...

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