US v. Irvine King
UNPUBLISHED PER CURIAM OPINION filed. Originating case number: 1:12-cr-00180-CMH-1, 1:12-cr-00180-CMH-2, 1:15-cv-00811-CMH, 1:15-cv-00812-CMH. Copies to all parties and the district court/agency . [16-6382]
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UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Plaintiff - Appellee,
Defendants - Appellants.
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern
District of Virginia, at Alexandria.
Claude M. Hilton, Senior
January 31, 2017
February 15, 2017
Vacated in part and remanded by unpublished per curiam opinion.
John Patrick Elwood, Lindsey Robinson Vaala, VINSON & ELKINS,
LLP, Washington, D.C., Conor Paul McEvily, VINSON & ELKINS, LLP,
Houston, Texas, for Appellants.
Kimberly G. Ang, Christopher
John Catizone, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Rachel
Gabrielle Hertz, Lauren Elyse Marziani, Special Assistant United
States Attorneys, Alexandria, Virginia, for Appellee.
Unpublished opinions are not binding precedent in this circuit.
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Irvine Johnston King and Aisha Rashidatu King appeal the
district court’s orders denying relief on their 28 U.S.C. § 2255
We previously granted a partial certificate of
appealability and ordered further briefing on a single issue:
whether the district court abused its discretion in denying,
submissions, we vacate in part and remand for an evidentiary
“We review de novo a district court’s legal conclusions in
denying a § 2255 motion.”
United States v. Ragin, 820 F.3d 609,
district court’s decision not to hold an evidentiary hearing in
a postconviction proceeding.
See Gordon v. Braxton, 780 F.3d
§ 2255 relief without an evidentiary hearing, the nature of the
court’s ruling is akin to a ruling on a motion for summary
favorable to the § 2255 movant.”
United States v. Poindexter,
492 F.3d 263, 267 (4th Cir. 2007).
The district court must hold an evidentiary hearing on a
§ 2255 motion “[u]nless the motion and the files and records of
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the case conclusively show that the prisoner is entitled to no
28 U.S.C. § 2255(b); see United States v. Thomas, 627
F.3d 534, 538 (4th Cir. 2010).
The determination of whether to
discretion of the district court.
F.2d 526, 530 (4th Cir. 1970).
Raines v. United States, 423
However, “if the parties produce
evidence disputing material facts with respect to non-frivolous
habeas allegations, a court must hold an evidentiary hearing to
resolve those disputes.”
United States v. White, 366 F.3d 291,
297 (4th Cir. 2004); see United States v. Witherspoon, 231 F.3d
923, 926-27 (4th Cir. 2000); United States v. Magini, 973 F.2d
261, 264 (4th Cir. 1992).
matters, including what advice counsel provided regarding the
strength of the Government’s case, the extent to which the Kings
were aware of the sentence they likely would face if they went
to trial, the extent to which counsel examined the evidence and
reviewed that evidence with the Kings, and when and how counsel
communicated plea offers to the Kings.
The supporting documents
provided by the Government do not fully resolve these material
Although “there is no prohibition against a court making
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certain circumstances,” Strong v. Johnson, 495 F.3d 134, 139
(4th Cir. 2007), our review of the record leads us to reject the
notion that an evidentiary hearing would “add little or nothing
to the proceedings,” United States v. Barsanti, 943 F.2d 428,
440 (4th Cir. 1991).
Importantly, while counsel’s statements
evidence, we cannot conclude that the Kings’ contrary affidavits
are so conclusory or so implausible as to warrant their outright
rejection, or to otherwise dispel the material factual disputes
at issue in their case.
Because these factual disputes turn
purported occurrences outside the courtroom and upon which the
record could, therefore, cast no real light,” we conclude this
action falls within the class of cases in which “an evidentiary
hearing is especially warranted.”
See White, 366 F.3d at 302
(alteration, citations, and internal quotation marks omitted).
discretion in prematurely rejecting the Kings’ claim absent an
reassigned to a different district judge upon remand.
this request, as we conclude that reassignment is not necessary
to preserve the appearance of justice and would entail a waste
of judicial resources disproportionate to any conceivable gains.
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See United States v. North Carolina, 180 F.3d 574, 583 (4th Cir.
1999); United States v. Guglielmi, 929 F.2d 1001, 1007 (4th Cir.
Accordingly, we vacate in part the district court’s orders
instructions to grant the Kings an evidentiary hearing on their
claim that counsel was ineffective in failing to sufficiently
investigate and render prompt and adequate advice during plea
In so doing, we offer no view as to the merits of
the Kings’ claim, leaving that determination to the district
court in the first instance.
We dispense with oral argument
because the facts and legal contentions are adequately presented
in the materials before this court and argument would not aid
the decisional process.
VACATED IN PART
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