Huggans v. United States of America
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER - Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the motion to alter or amend judgment and supplemental motions [23, 32], motions for discovery [24, 28], motion for appointment of counsel 29 , and all related supplements are denied. Signed by District Judge Catherine D. Perry on July 26, 2016. (MCB)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
DARWIN MARKEITH HUGGANS,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Case No. 4:13 CV 323 CDP
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
In June of 2015, I denied Darwin Markeith Huggans’ motion to vacate, set
aside or correct his sentence, brought under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Huggans had been
convicted after a bench trial of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to
distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine and a separate charge of attempt to
possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine. Case No.
4:07CR541 CDP. The government filed an information under 21 U.S.C. § 851
charging him with two prior felony drug convictions, so he was sentenced to life
imprisonment, as was mandatory under 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A). The Eighth
Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed his conviction and sentence. United States v.
Huggans, 650 F.3d 1210 (8th Cir. 2011), cert denied, 132 S. Ct. 1583 (2012).
In ruling on the § 2255 motion, I rejected the following grounds for relief:
1. Counsel had an actual conflict of interest, depriving Huggans of his
Sixth Amendment right to counsel, and counsel failed to inform
Huggans or the court of the conflict.
2. The trial court erred in failing to inquire into counsel’s actual conflict of
interest, depriving Huggans of his Sixth Amendment right to conflict
3. The trial court erred in allowing the matter to proceed to a bench trial,
depriving Huggans of his right to due process and counsel was
ineffective for not requesting a jury trial based on the court’s concern in
having a bench trial at all.
4. Trial counsel was ineffective for failing to adequately investigate or
prepare for Huggans’ case.
5. The trial court erred in failing to correctly advise Huggans of the § 851
consequences and counsel was ineffective for failing to object to the
court’s incorrect § 851 statement in violation of Huggans’ due process
rights under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments.
6. Counsel was ineffective in advising Huggans to proceed to a bench trial
without proper advice.
7. Trial counsel was ineffective in failing to properly advise Huggans
regarding possible sentences or the impact of § 851 enhancements in
taking a plea versus going to trial.
8. Huggans was deprived of his Sixth Amendment right to effective
assistance of appellate counsel.
9. Under Alleyne v. United States, 133 S. Ct. 2151 (2013), the government
was required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the prior convictions
that formed the basis for the § 851 sentencing enhancement.
Huggans has now filed a number of pro se motions in this closed case.1 He filed a
Although Huggans’ initial § 2255 motion was signed by Huggans on the form used for pro se
filings, it was actually filed by retained counsel, who later filed a Supplement and a reply brief
on his behalf. The post-judgment filings have all been made pro se and retained counsel was
granted leave to withdraw.
motion to alter or amend the judgment and supplemental motion, several motions
for discovery and a motion for appointment of counsel, and other assorted
memoranda and supplemental filings. Most of the many filings simply reargue the
grounds that I previously rejected, or refile materials that Huggans had filed
before. I will not discuss any of those previously rejected arguments because
Huggans has presented nothing that would change any of my prior analysis or that
convinces me that my previous analysis was incorrect. Additionally, his requests
for discovery are directed to those same rejected grounds and he is not entitled to
the discovery he seeks.
In his motion to alter or amend judgment, however, Huggans raises one new
claim: that he has “newly discovered evidence” that the government failed to
disclose exculpatory material, specifically that a witness had been an informant
back in 1994. He also alleges that the undersigned was biased in favor of the
witness’s testimony because I had been the Magistrate Judge who presided over a
hearing involving the witness in 1994, some fifteen years before Huggans’ 2009
trial. He asserts that I should have sua sponte recused myself from presiding over
his bench trial, and that his counsel was ineffective for failing to raise this issue.
Although Huggans alleged that this was newly discovered evidence, he did not
explain how or when he discovered it.
I ordered the government to respond to Huggans’ claim of newly discovered
evidence, and they indicated that the government had disclosed almost two years
before Huggans’ trial that the witness would testify against him. According to the
government and the Court records on which Huggans now relies, the witness had
been charged with a crime in 1994 and that charge was later dismissed. The
government has not disclosed whether the witness had been an informant back in
To prevail on his argument that I should alter or amend my June 2015
judgment on his § 2255 motion because of newly discovered evidence, Huggans
must show (1) that the evidence was discovered after I entered the final order, (2)
that he exercised diligence to obtain the evidence before entry of the final order,
(3) that the evidence is not merely cumulative or impeaching, (4) that the evidence
is material, and (5) that the evidence would probably have produced a different
result. Miller v. Baker Implement Co., 439 F.3d 407, 414 (8th Cir. 2006); United
States v. Metro. St. Louis Sewer Dist., 440 F.3d 930, 933 n.3 (8th Cir. 2006) (Rule
59(e) motions based on new evidence are analyzed in the same manner as motions
filed under Rule 60(b)(2)).
I agree with the government that any evidence about what the witness may
have done (completely unrelated to Huggans) in 1994 would not have been
material or exculpatory – the witness’s testimony against Huggans at the 2009 trial
established beyond doubt that the witness was cooperating with the government at
that time. Additionally, there was significant evidence of criminal wrongdoing by
the witness that was used very effectively by Huggans’ trial counsel to crossexamine the witness. Any speculation about what might have happened fifteen
years earlier would not have been material to Huggans’ defense.
Moreover, Huggans’ claim of bias is without merit. First of all, I certainly
do not remember an initial appearance in a later dismissed case. Nevertheless, the
purported “new evidence” of my presiding over the witness’s initial appearance in
1994 comes from public records and not from any documents or information
available only to the government. Huggans has not demonstrated that he exercised
diligence to discover this evidence before the June 2015 entry of judgment in this
case or why it could not have been discovered earlier. This “new evidence”
therefore does not provide a basis for me to revisit the claims made in his motion
to vacate. See Crowell v. Campbell Soup Co., 264 F.3d 756, 764 (8th Cir. 2001)
(court did not abuse discretion in denying Rule 59(e) motion where the allegedly
new evidence appeared to come from public records); Liberty Mut. Ins. Co. v. FAG
Bearings Corp., 153 F.3d 919, 924 (8th Cir. 1998) (district court did not abuse
discretion in denying Rule 60(b) motion where movant failed to show why new
evidence could not have been discovered earlier with due diligence). See also
Anderson v. United States, 762 F.3d 787, 794 (8th Cir. 2014), cert. denied, 135 S.
Ct. 1017 (2015) (“new” evidence could have been offered prior to court’s entry of
final order on § 2255 motion because it was in existence more than four years
before movant filed his § 2255 motion); Miller v. Baker Implement Co., 439 F.3d
407, 414-15 (8th Cir. 2006) (movant failed to explain why he could not discover
publicly available records before entry of judgment).
For all of these reasons, Huggans’ motion to alter or amend the judgment in
this case based on newly discovered evidence will be denied. All of the other
supplemental filings simply reargue issues that were raised and rejected previously,
and Huggans has not presented anything that changes the previous analysis.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the motion to alter or amend judgment
and supplemental motions [23, 32], motions for discovery [24, 28], motion for
appointment of counsel , and all related supplements are denied.
CATHERINE D. PERRY
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated this 26th day of July, 2016.
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