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United States v. Aleman

United States District Court, D. Kansas

November 6, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
JOSE ALEMAN, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          KATHRYN H. VRATIL, United States District Judge

         This matter is before the Court on defendant Jose Aleman's pro se Motion Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 To Vacate, Set Aside, Or Correct Sentence By A Person In Federal Custody (Doc. #106) filed September 7, 2017. For reasons stated below, the Court overrules defendant's motion and denies a certificate of appealability.

         Factual Background

         The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals summarized the procedural history as follows:

Kansas City police pulled over Jose Aleman for running a stop sign. After obtaining Aleman's information the officers discovered an outstanding warrant for his arrest. During the encounter, the officers obtained permission from Aleman's passenger, the owner of the car, to search the vehicle and found a firearm under the driver's seat. A federal grand jury subsequently indicted Aleman for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, a violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2).
Aleman sought to suppress the evidence and testimony resulting from the stop, arguing that the officers lacked reasonable suspicion that Aleman had violated the law prior to the stop, and thus obtained the evidence in violation of the Fourth Amendment. A magistrate judge heard Aleman's motion to suppress and recommended that the district court deny the motion. The district court conducted a second evidentiary hearing and concluded, like the magistrate judge, the traffic stop was properly based on a suspected traffic violation.

Order And Judgment (Doc. #105) filed March 2, 2017 at 1-2. At trial, a jury found defendant guilty of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Verdict (Doc. #73) filed March 30, 2015. The Court sentenced defendant to 87 months in prison. Judgment (Doc. #83) filed December 8, 2015. He appealed the judgment to the Tenth Circuit, which affirmed. Notice Of Appeal (Doc. #85) filed December 21, 2015; Order And Judgment (Doc. #105) at 2, 9.

         On September 7, 2017, defendant filed a pro se motion to vacate his sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Motion To Vacate (Doc. #106). Defendant alleges that the government suppressed evidence that the police officers did not issue a traffic ticket during the stop that resulted in his conviction. Memorandum (Doc. #106-1) filed September 7, 2017 at 1. He argues that the prosecution's suppression of evidence violated his Due Process rights, specifically those established in Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), and Napue v. Illinois, 360 U.S. 264 (1959). Id. at 2-4. Defendant also asserts that the government's withholding of evidence violated his right to effective assistance of counsel. Id. at 4-5.

         Analysis

         The Court applies a stringent standard of review when analyzing Section 2255 petitions. The Court presumes that the proceedings which led to defendant's conviction were correct. See Klein v. United States, 880 F.2d 250, 253 (10th Cir. 1989).

         I. Denial Of Due Process

         Defendant asserts that the government violated Brady, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), and Napue, 360 U.S. 264 (1959), by withholding evidence that the arresting police officers did not issue a traffic citation after they stopped defendant.[1] Memorandum (Doc. #106-1) at 2-4. To establish a Brady violation, defendant must prove that (1) the government suppressed evidence; (2) the suppressed evidence was favorable to the defense; and (3) the evidence was material. United States v. Wooten, 377 F.3d 1134, 1142 (10th Cir. 2004). Defendant's Brady claim fails on two grounds.

         First, the government did not suppress evidence that the officers did not issue a traffic citation during the stop; it essentially admitted as much. See Transcript Of Motion To Suppress Evidence (Doc. #94) filed February 4, 2016 at 13. At the suppression hearing, government counsel discussed a traffic citation in the conditional tense, stating “if Officer Webb would have given the defendant a citation.” Id. (emphasis added). At the same hearing, a police officer stated that he “didn't have the tickets to prove” what infractions occurred. Id. at 7. The officer later appeared to contradict this testimony when he stated that he wrote a ticket. Id. at 11. Despite this inconsistency, defendant fails to support his allegation with detail about what specific evidence the government failed to disclose. Further, because defendant never received a traffic citation, he knew that officers did not issue a ticket as a result of the traffic stop. Raley v. Ylst, 470 F.3d 792, 804 (9th Cir. 2006) (no Brady violation where defendant knows essential facts suppressed evidence proves); see also Fields v. Wharrie, 672 F.3d 505, 513 (7th Cir. 2012) (duty to disclose applies to evidence possessed exclusively by prosecution and government).

         Even if the Court presumes that the government withheld evidence, defendant fails to establish that the evidence was material, or show a “reasonable probability that, had the evidence been disclosed to the defense, the result of the proceeding would have been different.” United States v. Brooks, 727 F.3d 1291, 1300 n.7 (10th Cir. 2013) (citation and quotation marks omitted). Defendant attempts to satisfy the materiality requirement by arguing that if the government had disclosed the evidence, the Court ...


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