United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Chattanooga
Christopher H. Steger, Magistrate Judge.
R. McDONOUGH, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is Petitioner William Jones's pro se
motion to amend or supplement his motion to vacate, set
aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
2255 (Doc. 10 in 1:18-cv-257). For the following reasons, the
Court will GRANT Jones's motion to the
extent he seeks to amend or supplement his § 2255 motion
but DENY Petitioner's motion to the
extent it seeks relief under § 2255.
April 25, 2017, Petitioner was charged in a one-count
indictment with possession with intent to distribute a
mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of
cocaine, a Schedule II controlled substance, in violation of
Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841(a)(1) and
841(b)(1)(C). (Doc. 11 in No. 1:17-cr-71.) On October 10,
2017, Petitioner pleaded guilty pursuant to a written plea
agreement. (Doc. 30 in No. 1:17-cr-71; see also Doc.
19 in No. 1:17-cr-71.) Based on Petitioner's offense
level and criminal history, the Court calculated his advisory
guidelines range as forty-six to fifty-seven months'
imprisonment. (See Docs. 35, 42 in No. 1:17-cr-71.)
On January 26, 2018, the undersigned accepted the plea
agreement and sentenced Petitioner to 48 months'
imprisonment. (Doc. 41 in No. 1:17-cr-71.) Petitioner filed a
direct appeal but later moved to voluntarily dismiss the
appeal pursuant to Rule 42 of the Federal Rules of Appellate
Procedure. (Doc. 49 in No. 1:17-cr-71.) On February 25, 2019,
Petitioner filed the instant motion for leave to amend his
motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (Doc. 10 in 1:18-cv-257). This
motion is now ripe for the Court's review.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
obtain relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, a petitioner must
demonstrate “(1) an error of constitutional magnitude;
(2) a sentence imposed outside the statutory limits; or (3)
an error of fact or law . . . so fundamental as to render the
entire proceeding invalid.” Short v. United
States, 471 F.3d 686, 691 (6th Cir. 2006) (quoting
Mallett v. United States, 334 F.3d 491, 496-97 (6th
Cir. 2003)). He “must clear a significantly higher
hurdle than would exist on direct appeal” and establish
a “fundamental defect in the proceedings which
necessarily results in a complete miscarriage of justice or
an egregious error violative of due process.” Fair
v. United States, 157 F.3d 427, 430 (6th Cir. 1998).
ruling on a motion made pursuant to § 2255, the Court
must also determine whether an evidentiary hearing is
necessary. “An evidentiary hearing is required unless
the record conclusively shows that the petitioner is entitled
to no relief.” Martin v. United States, 889
F.3d 827, 832 (6th Cir. 2018) (quoting Campbell v. United
States, 686 F.3d 353, 357 (6th Cir. 2012)); see
also 28 U.S.C. § 2255(b). “The burden for
establishing entitlement to an evidentiary hearing is
relatively light, and where there is a factual dispute, the
habeas court must hold an evidentiary hearing to
determine the truth of the petitioner's claims.”
Id. (internal quotations omitted). While a
petitioner's “mere assertion of innocence”
does not entitle him to an evidentiary hearing, the district
court cannot forego an evidentiary hearing unless “the
petitioner's allegations cannot be accepted as true
because they are contradicted by the record, inherently
incredible, or conclusions rather than statements of
fact.” Id. When petitioner's factual
narrative of the events is not contradicted by the record and
not inherently incredible and the government offers nothing
more than contrary representations, the petitioner is
entitled to an evidentiary hearing. Id.
Leave to Amend
decision to grant or deny a motion to amend a § 2255
motion is within the sound discretion of the district court.
United States v. Clark, 637 Fed.Appx. 206, 208 (6th
Cir. 2016). Moreover, “[t]he court should freely give
leave when justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2).
Because Petitioner is proceeding pro se, he is
entitled to some indulgences, and the Court will, therefore,
permit him to amend his § 2255 motion. See Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972). Accordingly, to the
extent Jones's motion seeks to amend or supplement his
§ 2255 motion, the Court will GRANT
Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
asserts that he is entitled to relief under 28 U.S.C. §
2255 because he received ineffective assistance of counsel.
(See Doc. 10 in 1:18-cv-257.) Specifically, he
argues that his counsel was ineffective for failing to: (1)
move to suppress evidence obtained pursuant to the search
warrant of Petitioner's vehicle because the affidavit in
support of the warrant did not establish the reliability of
the confidential informant relied on by officers; (2) request
certain discovery, including the identity of the confidential
informant and his involvement with the case; (3) object to
the drug quantity attributed to him at sentencing; and (4)
inform Petitioner of his “right to have the charged
drug quantity determined by a jury.” (Doc. 10, at
collaterally attack his conviction based on ineffective
assistance of counsel, Petitioner must establish “that
[his] lawyers performed well below the norm of competence in
the profession and that this failing prejudiced [his]
case.” Caudill v. Conover, 881 F.3d 454, 460
(6th Cir. 2018) (citing Strickland v. Washington,
466 U.S. 668, 687 (1984)). The performance inquiry requires
the defendant to “show that counsel's
representation fell below an objective standard of
reasonableness.” Strickland, 466 U.S. at 688.
The prejudice inquiry requires the defendant to “show
that there is a reasonable probability that, but for
counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the
proceeding would have been different.” Id. at
694. “A reasonable probability is a probability
sufficient to undermine confidence in the outcome.”
See Rodriguez-Penton v. United States, 905 F.3d 481,
487 (6th Cir. 2018) (quoting Strickland, 466 ...