Sullivan v. United States of America
ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS re: Motion to Vacate (2255) filed by Scott Anthony Sullivan. Movant is denied a certificate of appealability, Case terminated on 6/05/2017.(Signed by Judge Micaela Alvarez) Parties notified.(BelindaSaenz, 7)
United States District Court
Southern District of Texas
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
SCOTT ANTHONY SULLIVAN
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
CIVIL ACTION NO.
June 06, 2017
David J. Bradley, Clerk
CRIMINAL ACTION NO. M-05-792-1
ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Pending before the Court is Movant Scott Anthony Sullivan’s Motion to Vacate, Set Aside,
or Correct Sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, which had been referred to the Magistrate Court
for a report and recommendation. On April 19, 2017, the Magistrate Court issued the Report and
Recommendation, recommending that Movant’s § 2255 motion to vacate be denied, that Movant be
denied a certificate of appealability, and that this action be dismissed. Movant has filed timely
objections1 to the Magistrate Court’s Report and Recommendation wherein he raises three
Sullivan first specifically objects to the Magistrate Judge’s conclusion that trial counsel’s
advice that Sullivan not testify was sound trial strategy. Sullivan does not dispute any of the
Magistrate Judge’s factual finding which support his conclusion; he simply disagrees with the
conclusion. In particular Sullivan argues that in a “he-said, she-said” case, his testimony was
required. Sullivan conveniently overlooks the fact that the jury heard from other witnesses who
supported the victim’s testimony and that the jury did not hear from other alleged victims because the
two counts were severed and because Sullivan did not testify. Thus, this was not simply a “he-said,
Sullivan’s second and third objections address the Magistrate Judge’s conclusion that there
was no error in the verdict form and that trial counsel was not ineffective in failing to object to the
Dkt. No. 20.
order of the questions presented in the verdict form. Sullivan contends that the Fifth Circuit opinion
contains a syllogism supporting his position that whatever structural error may have existed in the
verdict form necessarily meant that the jury was not properly instructed. Sullivan reads too much
into the Fifth Circuit opinion. To quote the Fifth Circuit, “even if the verdict form was erroneously
structured,” “[t]o instruct the jury on the aggravated offense require[d] instructions as to all the
elements of the basic offense and that the offense involved aggravated sexual abuse.” 2 The Fifth
Circuit, by implication found that the jury was properly instructed as to all elements. Therefore,
Sullivan cannot show prejudice of trial counsel in failing to object.
Thus, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(c), the Court has made a de novo determination of
those portions of the report to which objections have been made. As to those portions to which no
objections have been made, in accordance with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b), the Court has
reviewed the report for clear error.
Having thus reviewed the record in this case, the parties’ filing and the applicable law, the
Court adopts the Report and Recommendation in its entirety. Accordingly, it is hereby ORDERED
that Movant’s § 2255 Motion to Vacate is DENIED, that Movant is denied a certificate of
appealability, and that this action is DISMISSED.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
DONE at McAllen, Texas, this 5th day of June, 2017.
United States District Judge
Criminal Case No. 7:05-cr-792, Dkt. No. 174, p. 3.
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