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Smith v. United States

June 9, 2008

RALPH SMITH PETITIONER,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Leon Jordan United States District Judge

Jordan

MEMORANDUM

This is a motion to vacate, set aside or correct sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 filed by petitioner Ralph Smith ("Smith"). For the following reasons, the § 2255 motion will be DENIED and this action will be DISMISSED.

I. Standard of Review

This court must vacate and set aside Smith'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, Smith "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 Smith 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

Smith pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine hydrochloride, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 846, and conspiracy to conduct and attempt to conduct money laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1956(a)(1)(A)(i) and 1956(h). Based upon a prior felony drug conviction, Smith was subject to a statutory mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years on the conspiracy conviction. 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A). In addition, his guideline sentence range was calculated to be 262 to 327 months based upon a total offense level of 37 and a criminal history category of VI. [Criminal Action No. 3:04-cr-130, Presentence Report, p. 18. ¶ 74].

As a result of Smith's substantial assistance, the government filed a motion for downward departure, which was granted. He was then sentenced to concurrent terms of imprisonment of 168 months on each conviction. Smith did not appeal his conviction or sentence. In support of his § 2255 motion to vacate sentence, Smith alleges the following:

(1) ineffective assistance of counsel; (2) unconstitutional sentence enhancement based upon drug quantity; and (3) unconstitutional enhancement to career offender status.

III. Discussion

A. Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

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 ...


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