Goodson v. United States of America
ORDER denying 2 Motion to Vacate/Set Aside/Correct Sentence (2255) (Criminal Action CR07-0043-LRR); denying request for appointment of counsel; denying request for discovery; denying a certificate of appealability. Signed by Chief Judge Linda R Reade on 2/22/2013. (copy w/nef mailed to non-ecf filer) (des)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF IOWA
CEDAR RAPIDS DIVISION
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
REQUESTS FOR APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL AND DISCOVERY. . . . . 1
REQUEST FOR EVIDENTIARY HEARING.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
ANALYSIS .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
CONCLUSION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
This matter appears before the court on Tony Goodson’s motion to vacate, set aside
or correct sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (“motion”) (civil docket no. 2). Tony
Goodson (“the movant”) filed the motion on December 16, 2010. On April 7, 2011, the
court, among other things, directed the government to file a brief in response to the claims
that the movant included in the motion. See April 7, 2011 Order (civil docket no. 4). On
June 22, 2011, the government filed a resistance to the motion (civil docket no. 12). On
July 11, 2011, the movant filed a reply to the government’s resistance (civil docket no. 13).
The court now turns to consider the movant’s motion.
II. REQUESTS FOR APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL AND DISCOVERY
In the motion, the movant asks the court to appoint counsel to represent him in the
underlying matter. Appointment of counsel is based on multiple factors, including the
complexity of the case, and, although the court may appoint an attorney in an action that
arises under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, it is not required to appoint an attorney. See Davis v. Scott,
94 F.3d 444, 447 (8th Cir. 1996) (setting forth factors to be considered for appointment of
counsel in civil cases); Abdullah v. Gunter, 949 F.2d 1032, 1035 (8th Cir. 1991) (same);
Wiggins v. Sargent, 753 F.2d 663, 668 (8th Cir. 1985) (stating that an indigent litigant
enjoys neither a statutory nor a constitutional right to have counsel appointed in a civil
case); Day v. United States, 428 F.2d 1193, 1195 (8th Cir. 1970) (“The Sixth Amendment
right to counsel does not extend to persons seeking post conviction relief.” (citing Baker
v. United States, 334 F.2d 444, 447 (8th Cir. 1964))). Given the record, the court
concludes that appointment of counsel is not warranted, especially considering that the
movant knowingly and voluntarily pleaded guilty. Accordingly, the movant’s request for
appointment of counsel is denied.
In addition, the movant requests that the court invoke the process of discovery.
Having reviewed the movant’s claims in light of the record, the court concludes that good
cause is lacking and, consequently, discovery is not warranted. See Rule Governing
Section 2255 Proceedings 6(a) (“A judge may, for good cause, authorize a party to conduct
discovery under the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure or Civil Procedure, or in
accordance with the practices and principles of law.”). The evidence of record conclusively
demonstrates that the movant is not entitled to the relief sought and, thus, the court finds
that there is no good cause for further discovery. Based on the foregoing, the movant’s
request for discovery is denied.
III. REQUEST FOR EVIDENTIARY HEARING
A district court is given discretion in determining whether to hold an evidentiary
hearing on a motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. See United States v. Oldham, 787 F.2d 454,
457 (8th Cir. 1986). In exercising that discretion, the district court must determine whether
the alleged facts, if true, entitle the movant to relief. See Payne v. United States, 78 F.3d
343, 347 (8th Cir. 1996). “Accordingly, [a district court may summarily dismiss a motion
brought under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 without an evidentiary hearing] if (1) the . . . allegations,
accepted as true, would not entitle the [movant] to relief, or (2) the allegations cannot be
accepted as true because they are contradicted by the record, inherently incredible, or
conclusions rather than statements of fact.” Engelen v. United States, 68 F.3d 238, 240
(8th Cir. 1995); see also Delgado v. United States, 162 F.3d 981, 983 (8th Cir. 1998)
(stating that an evidentiary hearing is unnecessary where allegations, even if true, do not
warrant relief or allegations cannot be accepted as true because they are contradicted by the
record or lack factual evidence and rely on conclusive statements); United States v. Hester,
489 F.2d 48, 50 (8th Cir. 1973) (stating that no evidentiary hearing is necessary where the
files and records of the case demonstrate that relief is unavailable or where the motion is
based on a question of law). Stated differently, the court can dismiss a 28 U.S.C. § 2255
motion without a hearing where “the files and records of the case conclusively show that
the prisoner is entitled to no relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(b); accord Standing Bear v. United
States, 68 F.3d 271, 272 (8th Cir. 1995) (per curiam).
The court concludes that it is able to resolve the movant’s claims from the record.
See Rogers v. United States, 1 F.3d 697, 699 (8th Cir. 1993) (holding that “[a]ll of the
information that the court needed to make its decision with regard to [the movant’s] claims
was included in the record” and, therefore, the court “was not required to hold an
evidentiary hearing” (citing Rule Governing Section 2255 Proceedings 8(a) and United
States v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667, 674 (1980))). The evidence of record conclusively
demonstrates that the movant is not entitled to the relief sought. Specifically, it indicates
that the movant’s assertions fail because counsel represented the movant in a manner that
comports with the requirements of the Sixth Amendment. And, it demonstrates that his
other claims are without merit. As such, the court finds that there is no need for an
With respect to the merits of the movant’s claims, the court deems it appropriate to
deny the movant’s 28 U.S.C. § 2255 motion for the reasons stated in the government’s
resistance. The government’s brief adequately sets forth the law that is applicable to the
facts in the movant’s case. Specifically, the government correctly concludes that all of the
movant’s claims are without merit.
Moreover, the court thoroughly reviewed the record and finds that the denial of the
movant’s motion comports with the Constitution, results in no “miscarriage of justice” and
is consistent with the “rudimentary demands of fair procedure.” Hill v. United States, 368
U.S. 424, 428 (1962); see also United States v. Apfel, 97 F.3d 1074, 1076 (8th Cir. 1996)
(“Relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 is reserved for transgressions of constitutional rights and
for a narrow range of injuries that could not have been raised on direct appeal and, if
uncorrected, would result in a complete miscarriage of justice.” (citing Poor Thunder v.
United States, 810 F.2d 817, 821 (8th Cir. 1987))). None of the movant’s claims justify
Before turning to the movant’s specific arguments, the court deems it appropriate to
make several general observations. First, the movant knowingly and voluntarily pleaded
guilty pursuant to an agreement that he and the government entered into in July of 2007.
See Walker v. United States, 115 F.3d 603, 604 (8th Cir. 1997) (“[A] valid guilty plea
forecloses an attack on conviction unless ‘on the face of the record the court had no power
In the motion, the movant asserts that: (1) he received ineffective assistance of
counsel during the plea process; (2) he received ineffective assistance based on the total
accumulation of counsel’s errors during the proceedings; (3) his mandatory life sentence
is subject to collateral attack because prior convictions used to enhance his sentence have
been vacated; and (4) his conviction and sentence violate the First, Second, Fourth, Fifth,
Sixth and Eighth Amendments to the United States Constitution.
to enter the conviction or impose the sentence.’” (quoting United States v. Vaughan, 13
F.3d 1186, 1188 (8th Cir. 1994)); United States v. Jennings, 12 F.3d 836, 839 (8th Cir.
1994) (a voluntary and unconditional guilty plea waives all defects except those related to
jurisdiction); see also United States v. Seay, 620 F.3d 919, 921-23 (8th Cir. 2010) (making
clear that a challenge based on a court’s statutory or constitutional power to adjudicate a
case survives a defendant’s guilty plea). Second, it is clear that the court appropriately
sentenced the movant. The court’s application of the statutory mandatory minimum violates
no constitutional right. See United States v. Villareal-Amarillas, 562 F.3d 892, 898 (8th
Cir. 2009) (observing that a sentencing judge is only constrained by the statutory maximum
and minimum for an offense and the factors included in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)); United States
v. Garcia-Gonon, 433 F.3d 587, 593 (8th Cir. 2006) (finding challenges based on the Fifth
Amendment and the Sixth Amendment to be unavailing because sentence-enhancing facts
need only be found by a preponderance of the evidence and uncharged relevant conduct
may be considered so long as the sentence does not exceed the statutory maximum for the
offense). Finally, the court concludes that the conduct of counsel fell within a wide range
of reasonable professional assistance, Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 689 (1984),
and their performance did not prejudice the movant’s defense, id. at 692-94. Thus, the
movant has failed to establish an ineffective assistance of counsel claim. See id. at 687
(holding that, to establish an ineffective assistance of counsel claim, the movant must first
“show that counsel’s performance was deficient” and then “show that the deficient
performance prejudiced the defense”); see also United States v. Taylor, 258 F.3d 815, 818
(8th Cir. 2001) (“To establish ineffective assistance of counsel[, the movant] must
demonstrate: (1) his attorney’s performance was deficient . . . and (2) he suffered prejudice
by showing that, absent counsel’s ineffective assistance, there is a reasonable probability
that the result of the proceeding would have been different.”).
More specifically, the court finds that the movant’s assertions about counsel do not
establish that a violation of the Sixth Amendment occurred.2 Contrary to the movant’s
assertions, counsel’s performance did not cause the movant to enter an unknowing and
involuntary plea; there are no serious derelictions on the part of counsel that show the
movant’s plea was not a knowing and intelligent act. The order of detention, the plea
agreement, the plea hearing transcript, the report and recommendation to accept the guilty
plea and the CJA voucher indicate the following: (1) the movant fully understood the
charges that he faced; (2) the movant discussed the charges and the evidence in his case
with counsel; (3) at the time he entered his guilty plea, the movant expressed full
satisfaction with counsel and the advice that counsel provided; (4) counsel had access to the
government’s discovery materials; (5) the movant discussed his plea agreement with counsel
and understood it; (6) at the time he entered his guilty plea, the movant acknowledged that
nobody forced, threatened, pressured or coerced him to plead guilty; (7) counsel maintained
that the discovery material supported a factual basis for the movant’s guilty plea; (8) the
movant and counsel discussed the elements of his offense; (9) the movant and counsel
discussed the approximate sentence that the movant faced, the application of the sentencing
guidelines, the evidence that the court would consider at sentencing and the possibility that
the movant could be sentenced to a statutory minimum of life in prison; and (10) counsel
appropriately investigated the movant’s case.
In the motion, the movant makes several specific claims to support his contention
that the court should vacate, set aside or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255.
First, the movant claims that counsel was ineffective because he failed to adequately advise
the movant prior to his guilty plea.
Specifically, the movant alleges that counsel
Robert P. Montgomery and Eric Kenyatta Parrish represented the movant
throughout the plea process. See Affidavit of Robert P. Montgomery (civil docket no. 11)
at 1-3; Affidavit of Eric Kenyatta Parrish (civil docket no.10) at 1. Daniel O’Brien
represented the movant after the movant entered his guilty plea and at sentencing. See
Affidavit of Daniel O’Brien (civil docket no. 5) at 1.
improperly: (1) advised the movant that he would not face a mandatory minimum of life in
prison; (2) advised the movant that his prior convictions constituted a single conviction for
sentence-enhancement purposes under 21 U.S.C. § 851; (3) advised the movant that he
would receive a lower sentence if he pleaded guilty; and (4) coerced the movant to plead
guilty without conducting an independent investigation of the relevant facts and laws. As
discussed above, the movant must satisfy the two-part Strickland test for ineffective
assistance of counsel in order to successfully challenge the voluntariness of a guilty plea by
alleging ineffective assistance of counsel. Hill v. Lockhart, 474 U.S. 52, 56-57 (1985).
The movant has failed to prove either deficient performance or prejudice. Counsel
comprehensively explained the plea agreement to the movant and adequately advised the
movant prior to his guilty plea. Specifically, counsel adequately advised the movant of the
law relevant to the determination of whether to plead guilty, informed the movant that he
faced a mandatory minimum of life in prison if he pleaded guilty, advised the movant of
the status of his prior convictions, advised the movant of the possible sentences that he
faced and did not coerce the movant to plead guilty.
Thus, the movant has not
demonstrated that counsel’s performance was deficient.
Further, the movant has not established that there is a reasonable probability that,
but for counsel’s allegedly deficient performance, the movant would not have pleaded guilty
and instead would have gone to trial. See id. at 59. Thus, the movant has not demonstrated
that he was prejudiced as a result of any of counsel’s alleged deficiencies.
Second, the movant asserts that counsel was ineffective because of the total
accumulation of errors in the proceedings. This is not a valid ground for the court to grant
post-conviction relief. See United States v. Brown, 528 F.3d 1030, 1034 (8th Cir. 2008)
(“[W]e have repeatedly rejected the cumulative error theory of post-conviction relief.”);
Middleton v. Roper, 455 F.3d 838, 851 (8th Cir. 2006) (concluding that “the cumulative
effect of alleged trial counsel errors is not grounds for granting habeas relief”); Hall v.
Luebbers, 296 F.3d 685, 692 (8th Cir. 2002) (“[A] habeas petitioner cannot build a
showing of prejudice on a series of errors, none of which would by itself meet the prejudice
test.”). Thus, the court finds that this claim is without merit.
Third, the movant argues that his mandatory life sentence is subject to collateral
attack because the prior convictions used to enhance his sentence have been vacated. The
United States Supreme Court has held that, if a defendant who received an enhanced federal
sentence due to prior convictions in state court “is successful in attacking these state
sentences, he may then apply for reopening of any federal sentence enhanced by the state
sentences.” Custis v. United States, 511 U.S. 485, 497 (1994). However, in this case, the
movant’s state post-conviction claims are still pending and have not been vacated. See
Government Exhibit 1 (civil docket no. 12-2); Government Exhibit 2 (civil docket no. 123). Thus, the movant’s mandatory life sentence is not subject to collateral attack at this
Finally, the movant argues that his conviction and sentence violate the First, Second,
Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments to the Constitution. Although the movant
claims that his sentence and conviction violate his constitutional rights, he does not provide
additional support for this claim in either his memorandum in support of the motion (civil
docket no. 2-3) or reply. After considering the record, the court finds that the movant’s
conviction and sentence comport with the Constitution. Thus, the court finds that this claim
is without merit.
In sum, the alleged errors that the movant asserts do not warrant relief under 28
U.S.C. § 2255. The movant’s claims are without merit. Based on the foregoing, the court
shall deny the movant’s 28 U.S.C. § 2255 motion.
V. CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY
In a 28 U.S.C. § 2255 proceeding before a district judge, the final order is subject
to review, on appeal, by the court of appeals for the circuit in which the proceeding is held.
See 28 U.S.C. § 2253(a).
Unless a circuit justice or judge issues a certificate of
appealability, an appeal may not be taken to the court of appeals.
See 28 U.S.C.
§ 2253(c)(1)(B). A district court possesses the authority to issue certificates of appealability
under 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c) and Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 22(b). See Tiedeman
v. Benson, 122 F.3d 518, 522 (8th Cir. 1997). Under 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2), a certificate
of appealability may issue only if a movant has made a substantial showing of the denial of
a constitutional right. See Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 335-36 (2003); Garrett v.
United States, 211 F.3d 1075, 1076-77 (8th Cir. 2000) (per curiam); Carter v. Hopkins,
151 F.3d 872, 873-74 (8th Cir. 1998); Cox v. Norris, 133 F.3d 565, 569 (8th Cir. 1997);
Tiedeman, 122 F.3d at 523. To make such a showing, the movant must demonstrate that
the issues are debatable among reasonable jurists, a court could resolve the issues
differently or the issues deserve further proceedings. Cox, 133 F.3d at 569 (citing Flieger
v. Delo, 16 F.3d 878, 882-83 (8th Cir. 1994)); see also Miller-El, 537 U.S. at 335-36
Courts reject constitutional claims either on the merits or on procedural grounds.
“‘[W]here a district court has rejected the constitutional claims on the merits, the showing
required to satisfy [28 U.S.C.] § 2253(c) is straightforward: [t]he [movant] must
demonstrate that reasonable jurists would find the district court’s assessment of the
constitutional claims debatable or wrong.’” Miller-El, 537 U.S. at 338 (quoting Slack v.
McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484 (2000)). When a federal habeas petition is dismissed on
procedural grounds without reaching the underlying constitutional claim, “the [movant must
show], at least, that jurists of reason would find it debatable whether the petition states a
valid claim of the denial of a constitutional right and that jurists of reason would find it
debatable whether the district court was correct in its procedural ruling.” Slack, 529 U.S.
Having thoroughly reviewed the record in this case, the court finds that the movant
failed to make the requisite “substantial showing” with respect to the claims that he raised
in his 28 U.S.C. § 2255 motion. See 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2); Fed. R. App. P. 22(b).
Because he does not present a question of substance for appellate review, there is no reason
to grant a certificate of appealability. Accordingly, the court shall deny a certificate of
appealability. If he desires further review of his 28 U.S.C. § 2255 motion, the movant may
request issuance of the certificate of appealability by a circuit judge of the Eighth Circuit
Court of Appeals in accordance with Tiedeman, 122 F.3d at 520-22.
The court finds that all of the movant’s assertions under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 are
without merit. IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED:
(1) The movant’s 28 U.S.C. § 2255 motion (civil docket no. 2) is denied.
(2) The movant’s request for appointment of counsel is denied.
(3) The movant’s request for discovery is denied.
(4) A certificate of appealability is denied.
DATED this 22nd day of February, 2013.
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