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United States v. Thornberg

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

May 9, 2014

United States of America, Plaintiff,
v.
James Edward Thornberg, Defendant. Civil Case No. 14-739 ADM

Robert M. Lewis, Esq., United States Attorney's Office, Minneapolis, MN, on behalf of Plaintiff.

James Edward Thornberg, pro se.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

ANN D. MONTGOMERY, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter is before the undersigned United States District Judge for consideration of Defendant James Edward Thornberg's Motion Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence [Docket No. 118] (the "2255 Motion"). For the reasons set forth below, Thornberg's motion is denied.

II. BACKGROUND

After pleading guilty to wire fraud and money laundering in 2002, Thornberg was sentenced to 96 months imprisonment. In 2003, while serving his sentence at a federal prison camp in Duluth, Minnesota, Thornberg escaped from custody.

Over 6 years later, in March 2010, Thornberg was apprehended and charged with escape from custody in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 751(a). Thornberg pled not guilty by reason of insanity. Thornberg requested and received a pyschiatric evaluation under 18 U.S.C. §§ 4241 and 4242(a), to assess his competency to stand trial and his state of mind at the time of his escape. A forensic psychologist with the Bureau of Prisons found Thornberg competent to stand trial. Before trial, Thornberg's motions for appointment of new counsel were granted on two occasions.

Thornberg's defense at trial, with his third court-appointed attorney, was based on a theory of coercion and duress, specifically that his family had harrassed him while he was in prison and he feared he would kill himself if he remained there. The jury found Thornberg guilty of escape, and this Court sentenced him to 30 months imprisonment to be served consecutively to completion of his earlier sentence for fraud and money laundering.

Thornberg appealed his sentence, and on April 16, 2012, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed. United States v. Thornberg , 676 F.3d 703 (8th Cir. 2012)

Thornberg now moves the Court under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to vacate, set aside, or correct his prison escape sentence.

III. DISCUSSION

28 U.S.C. § 2255 provides a person in federal custody with a limited opportunity to collaterally attack the constitutionality, jurisdictional basis, or legality of his sentence. See United States v. Addonizio , 442 U.S. 178, 185 (1979). Relief is reserved for violations of constitutional rights and for a narrow range of injuries which were outside a direct appeal and which, if untreated, would result in a miscarriage of justice. See Poor Thunder v. United States , 810 F.2d 817, 821-22 (8th Cir. 1987).

Thornberg challenges his sentence based on two claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. First, Thornberg claims his attorney forced him to wear prison clothing during trial, denying his request to ask the Court for civilian clothes. 2255 Motion at 5. Second, Thornberg claims his counsel refused to contact witnesses ...


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