United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Chattanooga
S. MATTICE, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is a pro se motion to vacate, set aside, or correct
sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (“2255
Motion”) and a motion to amend the 2255 Motion [Doc.
38] filed by federal prisoner, Korrie Ladale Davis
(“Petitioner”) [Doc. 32]. Respondent United States of
America (the “Government”) filed a response in
opposition to each motion [Doc. 35 & 41], and Petitioner
filed a reply [Doc. 36]. For the reasons stated below, both
motions will be DENIED.
October 2012, a federal grand jury charged Petitioner with
conspiring to distribute cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C.
§§ 846, 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(C) and with seven
counts of distributing cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C.
§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(C) [Doc. 1]. Pursuant to a
written plea agreement filed January 29, 2013, that
specifically referenced Petitioner's increased statutory
penalty resulting from at least one prior drug felony
conviction, Petitioner pleaded guilty to Count One on
February 19, 2013, with a bargain that the other charges
would be dismissed at sentencing [Docs. 14, 21-24]. As
pertinent, the Government also filed a notice of its intent
to use Petitioner's November 22, 1999 felony drug
conviction to mandate an increased statutory punishment
pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 851 (“§ 851
Notice”) on February 19, 2013, the same day- but
before-Petitioner entered his guilty plea to Count One [Doc.
plea agreement and during his plea colloquy, Petitioner
acknowledged an appropriate disposition of the case could be
up to the increased statutory maximum sentence. As he was
determined to be a career offender, Petitioner's criminal
history category was VI and the resulting sentence range
under the applicable 2012 advisory United States Sentencing
Guidelines (“Guidelines”) was 188 to 235 months
[Presentence Investigation Report (“PSR”)
¶¶ 61, 100; see also Doc. 26 at Page ID #
67]. Petitioner successfully argued the career offender
enhancement was greater than necessary, and the Court granted
Petitioner's request for a below-Guidelines sentence.
Petitioner was sentenced to 160 months' imprisonment on
May 29, 2013 [Doc. 30].
did not appeal, so his conviction became final at the
expiration of the time for seeking such review, June 12,
2013. Petitioner claims he timely placed his § 2255
motion into the prison mail system for filing on June 6, 2014
[See Docs. 32, 32-1, & 36]. Some two years
later, in 2016, Petitioner filed a motion with the Sixth
Circuit Court of Appeals for authorization to file a second
or successive motion to vacate while his 2255 Motion was
still pending with this Court. Because Petitioner's 2255
Motion was still pending, the Sixth Circuit directed that the
motion for authorization to file a second or successive
motion to vacate be treated as a motion to amend the 2255
Motion [Doc. 37]. Both motions are now ripe.
prisoner in federal custody may file a motion to vacate, set
aside, or correct a sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
2255 “claiming the right to be released upon the ground
that 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). Relief under § 2255 is limited, however,
to: (1) errors involving lack of jurisdiction; (2)
constitutional violations; and (3) those non-constitutional
errors that constitute “fundamental defect[s] which
inherently result in a complete miscarriage of
justice.” Hill v. United States, 368 U.S. 424,
428 (1962), quoted in Reed v. Farley, 512 U.S. 339,
348-49 (1994); see also United States v. Addonizio,
442 U.S. 178, 185 (1979).
4(b) of the Rules Governing Section 2255 Proceedings in the
United States District Courts requires a district court to
summarily dismiss a § 2255 motion if “it plainly
appears from the face of the motion, the attached exhibits,
and the record of the prior proceedings that the movant is
not entitled to relief.” See also Pettigrew v.
United States, 480 F.2d 681, 684 (6th Cir. 1973)
(“A motion to vacate sentence under § 2255 can be
denied for the reason that it states ‘only bald legal
conclusions with no supporting factual
allegations.'” (quoting Sanders v. United
States, 373 U.S. 1, 19 (1963))). If the motion is not
summarily dismissed under Rule 4(b), Rule 8 requires the
court to determine, after a review of the answer and the
records of the case, whether an evidentiary hearing is
Standard for Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
raises ineffective assistance of counsel issues. Ineffective
assistance of counsel is a recognized constitutional
violation that, when adequately shown, warrants relief under
§ 2255. The two-prong test set forth in Strickland
v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687 (1984), governs claims
of ineffective assistance of counsel raised pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2255. Huff v. United States, 734 F.3d
600, 606 (6th Cir. 2013). That test provides that, to
demonstrate a violation of the Sixth Amendment right to
effective assistance of counsel, “a defendant must
establish that his attorney's performance was deficient
and that the deficient performance prejudiced the
defense.” Id. (citing Strickland, 466
U.S. at 687).
first prong requires a petitioner to show his attorney's
performance was deficient by demonstrating that counsel's
“representation fell below an objective standard of
reasonableness.” Strickland, 466 U.S. at 688.
Stated another way, the petitioner must show “that
counsel made errors so serious that counsel was not
functioning as the ‘counsel' guaranteed the
defendant by the Sixth Amendment.” Id. at 687.
The Supreme Court “has declined to articulate specific
guidelines for appropriate attorney conduct and instead [has]
emphasized that the proper measure of attorney performance
remains simply reasonableness under prevailing professional
norms.” Huff, 734 F.3d at 606 (alterations in
original) (quoting Wiggins v. Smith, 539 U.S. 510,
521 (2003)). A reviewing court must be “highly
deferential” to counsel's performance, because
[a] fair assessment of attorney performance requires that
every effort be made to eliminate the distorting effects of
hindsight, to reconstruct the circumstances of counsel's
challenged conduct, and to evaluate the conduct from
counsel's perspective at the time. Because of the
difficulties inherent in making the evaluation, 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 . . . strategy.”
Strickland, 466 U.S. at 689 (quoting Michel v.
Louisiana, 350 U.S. 91, 101 (1955)).
a petitioner is successful in overcoming that presumption, he
must still satisfy the second prong of the
Strickland test, i.e., prejudice. Thus, a petitioner
must show not only that his counsel's representation was
objectively unreasonable, but also that he was prejudiced by
counsel's deficiency because there exists “a
reasonable probability that, but for counsel's
unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would
have been different.” McPhearson v. United
States, 675 F.3d 553, 563 (6th Cir. 2012) (quoting
Strickland, 466 U.S. at 694).
the Strickland Court emphasized that both prongs
must be established in order for the petitioner to meet his
burden, it held there is no reason for a court deciding an
ineffective assistance claim to approach the inquiry in the
same order or even to address both components of the inquiry.
Strickland, 466 U.S. at 697. “If it is easier
to dispose of an ineffectiveness claim on the ground of lack
of sufficient prejudice, which we expect will often be so,
that course should be followed.” Id.