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Jackson v. United States

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

May 23, 2018

CAMRON J. JACKSON, Petitioner,


          J. P. Stadtmueller, U.S. District Judge.

         Petitioner Camron J. Jackson (“Jackson”) pleaded guilty to one count of Hobbs Act Robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1951(a) and 2, and one count of brandishing a firearm in connection with a crime of violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 924(c)(1)(A)(ii) & 2. United States v. Camron J. Jackson, 14-CR-99-5-JPS (E.D. Wis.) (Jackson's “Criminal Case”), (Docket #329 at 1). On June 28, 2017, the Court sentenced him to 114 months' imprisonment for those crimes. Id. at 2. Jackson did not appeal his convictions or sentence. Jackson filed a motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to vacate his convictions on May 15, 2018. (Docket #1). That motion is now before the Court for screening:

If it plainly appears from the motion, any attached exhibits, and the record of the prior proceedings that the moving party is not entitled to relief, the judge must dismiss the motion and direct the clerk to notify the moving party. If the motion is not dismissed, the judge must order the United States Attorney to file an answer, motion, or other response within a fixed time, or to take other action the judge may order.

         Rule 4(b), Rules Governing Section 2255 Proceedings.

         The Court begins by addressing the timeliness of Jackson's motion. Section 2255(f) provides that there is a one-year limitations period in which to file a motion seeking Section 2255 relief. That limitations period runs from the date on which the judgment of conviction becomes final. “[T]he Supreme Court has held that in the context of postconviction relief, finality attaches when the Supreme Court ‘affirms a conviction on the merits on direct review or denies a petition for a writ of certiorari, or when the time for filing a certiorari petition expires.'” Robinson v. United States, 416 F.3d 645, 647 (7th Cir. 2005) (internal citations omitted). Because Jackson did not appeal, his conviction became final once the deadline for filing a notice of appeal expired. Clarke v. United States, 703 F.3d 1098, 1100 (7th Cir. 2013). The deadline expired on July 12, 2017, fourteen days after judgment was entered. Thus, Jackson's motion appears timely.

         The Court turns next to procedural default. Section 2255 relief is appropriate if the Court determines 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). However, this form of action is not a substitute for a direct appeal. Varela v. United States, 481 F.3d 932, 935 (7th Cir. 2007). Therefore, any claims that Jackson did not raise at trial or on direct appeal are procedurally defaulted and he cannot raise them. See Torzala v. United States, 545 F.3d 517, 522 (7th Cir. 2008).

         There are two exceptions to this rule. First, claims of ineffective assistance of counsel may be raised for the first time in a Section 2255 motion. Massaro v. United States, 538 U.S. 500, 504 (2003). Second, Jackson may raise claims on which he otherwise procedurally defaulted if he demonstrates that there was cause for his failure to raise a claim earlier and that the failure has actually prejudiced him. Torzala, 545 F.3d at 522 (citing Bousley v. United States, 523 U.S. 614, 621 (1998)).

         Jackson raises four grounds for relief, all based on the alleged ineffective assistance of his trial counsel.[1] First, Jackson says that his lawyer “lied to [him] about the time [he] was going to receive” at sentencing. (Docket #1 at 6). Second, Jackson claims that his lawyer did not file an appeal, despite Jackson's instruction to do so, because “the judge could have given me lesser time according to the current law.” Id. at 7. Third, Jackson alleges that his counsel did not fully explain the charges against him “so [he] never fully understood what [he] was facing.” Id. at 8. Finally, Jackson maintains that his trial counsel “did not put in a motion on my behalf which I felt could have helped my case.” Id. The Court assumes Jackson refers to a pre-trial motion, such as a motion to suppress. Because each of these claims are for ineffective assistance of counsel, they are not procedurally defaulted.

         Each claim fails, however, because they are all plainly meritless. The Court of Appeal's Blake opinion neatly summarizes the standards applicable to Jackson's motion:

A party asserting ineffective assistance of counsel bears the burden of establishing two elements: (1) that his trial counsel's performance fell below objective standards for reasonably effective representation, and (2) that counsel's deficiency prejudiced the defense. Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687-88 . . . (1984)[.]
To satisfy the first element of the Strickland test, appellant must direct the Court to specific acts or omissions by his counsel. In that context, the Court considers whether in light of all the circumstances counsel's performance was outside the wide range of professionally competent assistance. The Court's assessment of counsel's performance is “highly deferential[, ] . . . indulg[ing] a strong presumption that counsel's conduct falls within the wide range of reasonable professional assistance[.]” [Id. at 689.] . . .
To satisfy the second Strickland element, appellant must show that there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's errors, the result of the proceedings would have been different, such that the proceedings were fundamentally unfair or unreliable. A reasonable probability is defined as one that is sufficient to undermine confidence in an outcome.

Blake v. United States, 723 F.3d 870, 878-79 (7th Cir. 2013) (citations and quotations omitted).

         A brief review of the docket of the Criminal Case reveals that Jackson cannot satisfy the Strickland test as to any of his grounds for relief. With respect to ground one, the plea agreement Jackson signed states the range of penalties available for his crimes, and notes that he discussed the applicable sentencing guidelines with his attorney. Criminal Case, (Docket #282 at 3-5). Jackson also acknowledged that his ultimate sentence was in the Court's hands, not those of his attorney or the government. Id. at 7-8. Each of these matters, as well as all of the considerations of pleading guilty, were discussed with Jackson in detail by Magistrate Judge David E. Jones ...

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