Betts v. United States of America
MEMORANDUM. Signed by Judge Catherine C. Blake on 1/12/2018. (c/m 1/12/18) (krs, Deputy Clerk)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Criminal No. CCB-15-0557
Civil No. CCB -17-1748
Petitioner Donta Betts filed a motion to vacate under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 asserting several
grounds, including ineffective assistance of counsel for failing to file a direct appeal. Ground
Two of the petition was denied in a prior opinion (ECF No. 62, 63). The government has now
agreed to permit Betts to file a direct appeal, waiving any argument that the appeal is untimely
while reserving its right to argue for dismissal on other grounds (ECF No. 68). Betts agrees this
would eliminate the need for an evidentiary hearing on Grounds One, Three, and Four. (ECF
No. 67). Betts argues, however, that he should be entitled to an evidentiary hearing on a claim
that he was not competent to enter a guilty plea.
This argument is founded on Betts’s handwritten addition to Claim One stating that he is
mentally ill and counsel was ineffective for not having him mentally evaluated. Trial counsel,
however, did have a thorough evaluation prepared which was provided to the court in connection
with sentencing. Nowhere in Betts’s § 2255 petition does he raise an issue of competency in
connection with counsel’s allegedly deficient performance.
Given the government’s willingness to allow a late-filed direct appeal, there is no need to
address an additional allegation of ineffectiveness of counsel not presently included in Betts’s
petition. Presumably, Betts’s direct appeal will include any due process violation his present
counsel believes is warranted.
Accordingly, the petition will be granted as to the right to file a direct appeal, and
otherwise dismissed without prejudice.
A separate order follows.
Date: January 12, 2018
Catherine C. Blake
United States District Judge
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