United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
CURTIS T. TROTTER, Petitioner,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.
Stadtmueller, U.S. District Judge.
Curtis T. Trotter pleaded guilty to three counts of bank
robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113, 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).
United States v. Curtis T. Trotter, 17-CR-227-JPS
(E.D. Wis.) (the “Criminal Case”), (Docket #16).
On June 1, 2018, the Court sentenced Petitioner to ten
years' imprisonment. Id., (Docket #30).
Petitioner did not appeal.
then filed a motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to
vacate his convictions on July 8, 2019. (Docket #1).
Petitioner's motion is now before the Court for
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
4(b), Rules Governing Section 2255 Proceedings. Generally,
the Court begins the screening process by examining the
timeliness of the motion and whether the claims therein are
procedurally defaulted. Indeed, Petitioner's motion
appears to be both untimely and procedurally defaulted. The
Court need not address those matters, however, because both
of Petitioner's grounds for relief is plainly meritless.
first ground for relief is the denial of effective assistance
of counsel, in violation of the Sixth Amendment, namely that
he asked his attorney to file a notice of appeal but the
attorney refused. (Docket #1 at 6; Docket #2 at 3-4).
Petitioner's memory must be faulty-or he may be
intentionally attempting to revise history-because on June
15, 2018, just two weeks after his sentencing,
Petitioner's attorney filed this letter with the Court:
Case, (Docket #32). The letter confirms that Petitioner
instructed his attorney not to appeal, and it bears
second ground for relief is that his sentence was
“improperly enhanced” with his Section 924(c)
conviction, in violation of his due process rights under the
Fifth Amendment. (Docket #1 at 7; Docket #2 at 5-7). A
Section 924(c) conviction requires a predicate offense,
namely a “crime of violence.” 18 U.S.C. §
924(c)(3). Petitioner contends that his convictions for bank
robbery do not qualify as “crimes of violence”
because they can be accomplished merely by intimidation.
(Docket #2 at 5-7). This precise argument was considered and
rejected by the Seventh Circuit, which held that bank robbery
is indeed a “crime of violence” for purposes of
Section 924(c). United States v. Armour, 840 F.3d
904, 908-09 (7th Cir. 2016). This Court agrees with the
analysis in Armour and, in any event, must follow it
as binding precedent.
Petitioner is plainly not entitled to relief on the two
grounds presented in his motion, the Court is compelled to
deny the motion and dismiss this action with prejudice. Under
Rule 11(a) of the Rules Governing Section 2255 Cases,
“the district court must issue or deny a certificate of
appealability when it enters a final order adverse to the
applicant.” To obtain a certificate of appealability
under 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2), Petitioner must make a
“substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional
right” by establishing that “reasonable jurists
could debate whether (or, for that matter, agree that) the
petition should have been resolved in a different manner or
that the issues presented were adequate to deserve
encouragement to proceed further.” Miller-El v.
Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 336 (2003) (internal citations
omitted). No. reasonable jurists could debate whether
Petitioner's motion presented any viable grounds for
relief. He signed a letter acknowledging waiver of his right
of appeal, and Armour completely forecloses his
claim regarding the Section 924(c) conviction. As a
consequence, the Court is compelled to deny a certificate of
appealability as to Petitioner's motion.
the Court closes with some information about the actions that
Petitioner may take if he wishes to challenge the Court's
resolution of this case. This order and the judgment to
follow are final. A dissatisfied party may appeal this
Court's decision to the Court of Appeals for the Seventh
Circuit by filing in this Court a notice of appeal within 30
days of the entry of judgment. See Fed. R. App. P.
3, 4. This Court may extend this deadline if a party timely
requests an extension and shows good cause or excusable
neglect for not being able to meet the 30-day deadline.
See Fed. R. App. P. 4(a)(5)(A). Moreover, under
certain circumstances, a party may ask this Court to alter or
amend its judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
59(e) or ask for relief from judgment under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 60(b). Any motion under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 59(e) must be filed within 28 days of the entry of
judgment. The Court cannot extend this deadline. See
Fed. R. Civ. P. 6(b)(2). Any motion under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 60(b) must be filed within a reasonable time,
generally no more than one year after the entry of the
judgment. The court cannot extend this deadline. See
id. A party is expected to closely review all applicable
rules and determine what, if any, further action is
appropriate in a case.
Court will also deny Petitioner's motion for leave to
proceed in this action in forma pauperis, (Docket
#3), as there is no filing fee associated with the filing of
a motion to vacate in a federal criminal case.
IT IS ORDERED that Petitioner's motion
for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (Docket #3)
be and the same is hereby DENIED;
IS FURTHER ORDERED that Petitioner's motion to
vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to
Section 2255 ...