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United States v. Jackson

United States District Court, District of Kansas

August 28, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff/Respondent,
CARLOS D. JACKSON, Defendant/Petitioner. Criminal No. 05-20018-01-CM


CARLOS MURGUIA, United States District Judge

This case is before the court on petitioner Carlos Jackson’s Petition Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence (Doc. 138). Jackson pleaded guilty to crimes related to possession and distribution of crack cocaine[1] (Count 1) and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime (Count 11). On March 27, 2013, Jackson entered into a plea agreement pursuant to Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1)(C), (Doc. 127). The plea agreement stated that the parties did not request imposition of an advisory guideline sentence because the sentence was sought pursuant to Rule 11(c)(1)(C). It proposed a 180-month sentence; five years of supervised release; and a mandatory special assessment fee of $100 on each count. At sentencing, the court imposed the 180-month sentence, followed by five years of supervised release, plus the $200 special assessment fee. (Doc. 85.)

Petitioner now claims ineffective assistance of counsel. The government contends that petitioner’s ineffective assistance of counsel claims are without merit. (Doc. 146). The government also asks the court to enforce petitioner’s waiver of his right to bring a § 2255 motion, which is contained in petitioner’s Rule 11(c)(1)(C) plea agreement. For the following reasons, the court denies petitioner’s motion.


1. Waiver

The court will hold a petitioner and the government to the terms of a lawful plea agreement. United States v. Arevalo-Jimenez, 372 F.3d 1204, 1207 (10th Cir. 2004); United States v. Atterberry, 144 F.3d 1299, 1300 (10th Cir. 1998). Generally, a knowing and voluntary waiver of § 2255 rights is enforceable. United States v. Cockerham, 237 F.3d 1179, 1181 (10th Cir. 2001). The court applies a three-pronged analysis to evaluate the enforceability of such a waiver, in which the court must determine: (1) whether the scope of the waiver covers the disputed issue; (2) whether petitioner knowingly and voluntarily waived his rights; and (3) whether enforcement of the waiver would result in a miscarriage of justice. See United States v. Hahn, 359 F.3d 1315, 1325 (10th Cir. 2004).

A. Scope of Waiver

In determining whether the disputed issue falls within the scope of the waiver, the court begins with the plain language of the plea agreement. United States v. Anderson, 374 F.3d 955, 957 (10th Cir. 2004); Hahn, 359 F.3d at 1328. The pertinent provision in petitioner’s plea agreement provides:

If the Court agrees to the proposed plea agreement, the [petitioner] knowingly and voluntarily waives any right to appeal or collaterally attack any matter in connection with this prosecution, conviction, and sentence (including the length and conditions of supervised release, as well as any sentence imposed upon a revocation of supervised release). The [petitioner] is aware that Title 18, U.S.C. § 3742 affords a [petitioner] the right to appeal the conviction and sentence imposed. By entering into this agreement, the [petitioner] knowingly waives any right to appeal if the Court imposes the sentence requested by the parties. The [petitioner] also waives any right to challenge a sentence or otherwise attempt to modify or change his sentence or manner in which it was determined in any collateral attack, including, but not limited to, a motion brought under Title 28, U.S.C. § 2255 [except as limited by United States v. Cockerham, 237 F.3d 1179, 1187 (10th Cir. 2001)], a motion brought under Title 18, U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) and a motion brought under Fed. Rule of Civ. Pro 60(b). However, if the United States exercises its right to appeal the sentence imposed as authorized by Title 18, U.S.C. § 3742(b), the [petitioner] is released from this waiver and may appeal the sentence received as authorized by Title 18, U.S.C. § 3742(a). Notwithstanding the forgoing waivers, the parties understand that the [petitioner] in no way waives any subsequent claims with regards to ineffective assistance of counsel or prosecutorial misconduct.

(Doc. 127 at ¶ 12.) The court construes the plea agreement “according to contract principles and what the [petitioner] reasonably understood when he entered his plea.” Arevalo-Jimenez, 372 F.3d at 1206 (internal quotation and citations omitted). The court strictly construes the waiver and resolves any ambiguities against the government. Hahn, 359 F.3d at 1343.

Here, petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel because (1) counsel was generally ineffective with respect to negotiations and waivers, and (2) counsel was ineffective for failing to raise a government plea-breach claim at sentencing. The first claim is exempted by Cockerham because it directly attacks the plea’s foundation. The second claim, however, attacks the effectiveness of counsel at sentencing, which does not relate to the validity of the plea or the waiver. If petitioner knowingly and voluntarily entered the plea, the second claim is waived.

B. Knowing and Voluntary

During the plea hearing and in the plea agreement itself, petitioner acknowledged that he was entering into the plea agreement knowingly and voluntarily. The court has reviewed the transcript of the plea hearing, and also independently remembers the hearing. Based on the court’s review and recollection, the court finds that the factual circumstances surrounding the plea in this case serve as compelling evidence that petitioner voluntarily and knowingly entered his plea. See Hahn, 359 F.3d at 1325 (explaining that the court looks to an informed plea colloquy for evidence that petitioner knowingly and voluntarily entered into agreement). In open court, petitioner also signed his Petition to Enter Plea of Guilty and Order Entering Plea, in which paragraph 19 reads, “I believe that my lawyer has done all that anyone could do to counsel and ...

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