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United States v. Robinson

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

August 9, 2017

United States of America, Respondent-Plaintiff,
Edward McCabe Robinson, a/k/a Eddie, Petitioner-Defendant. Civil No. 16-1214 (DWF)




         This matter is before the Court on Petitioner-Defendant Edward McCabe Robinson's (“Petitioner-Defendant”) pro se Motion Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence. (Doc. No. 462.) Petitioner-Defendant also filed a reply to the Government's response to his motion, (Doc. No. 528), to which the Government filed a response (Doc. No. 532).

         Petitioner-Defendant in his § 2255 motion alleges that his trial and appellate counsel, who was the same lawyer, was ineffective in three ways: (1) for failing to raise on appeal a claim of insufficient evidence to support the jury's verdict; (2) for failing to raise on appeal a claim that the trial court erred in denying his motion for judgment of acquittal; and (3) for failing to raise at trial and on appeal a claim that the prosecutor paid a witness for false testimony. Petitioner-Defendant, in his reply to the Government's response to his § 2255 motion, alleges that the Government admitted to due process violations that must result in a new trial or reversal of his convictions because the Government did not deny the allegations as alleged in his initial § 2255 petition. Petitioner-Defendant also alleges that, based on the evidence in the case against all four defendants, the results between the individual defendants' verdicts are inconsistent and that his counsel was ineffective for failing to ask for appellate review of whether the Court erred in failing to grant a motion for judgment of acquittal. Finally, the Petitioner-Defendant asserts that the Government did not address the meaning of the words in 18 U.S.C. § 201(c)(2). The Government opposes Petitioner-Defendant's motions and also asserts that his claims are procedurally defaulted. (Doc. Nos. 520 & 532.) For the reasons that the Court discusses below, the Court respectfully denies Petitioner-Defendant's motions.


         In August 2012, a federal grand jury returned an Indictment charging Petitioner-Defendant and his codefendants, Geshik-O'Binese Martin, David John Martin, George Allen Martin, Kevin John Needham, and Terin Rene Stately, with aiding and abetting Murder in the First Degree, aiding and abetting Murder in the Second Degree, all in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 2, 1111, 1151, and 1153(a), and aiding and abetting Robbery in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2, 1151, 1153(a), and 2111, for their respective roles in the robbery and deaths of Craig David Roy and Darla Ann Beaulieu on or about January 1, 2011. (Doc. No. 1.)

         The case was tried before a jury for nine days, beginning on February 25, 2013. Petitioner-Defendant did not testify on his own behalf. Importantly, it was the position of each and every defendant, whether they testified or not, that no robbery occurred on January 1, 2011. As the jury verdict established, the jury rejected the testimony of all witnesses on that issue and after approximately two days of deliberation, the jury returned a verdict finding Petitioner-Defendant guilty on all counts.[1] (Doc. No. 276.)

         On December 20, 2013, this Court sentenced Petitioner-Defendant to consecutive terms of life imprisonment for the first-degree murder convictions and a concurrent term of 15 years' imprisonment for the robbery conviction. (Doc. No. 396.)

         On appeal, Petitioner-Defendant made three arguments to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals: (1) that the Court erred when it denied Petitioner-Defendant's motion to sever trial; (2) that Petitioner-Defendant's Fifth Amendment right to remain silent was violated when the prosecutor referred to his failure to testify; and (3) that Petitioner-Defendant's due process and Rule 43 rights were violated when the Court engaged in alleged ex parte conversation with the jury venire during jury selection. United States v. Martin, 777 F.3d 984, 990-92 and 994-97 (8th Cir. 2015). The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected each of Petitioner-Defendant's argument and affirmed the judgment of this Court. Id. at 998.

         Petitioner-Defendant did not file a petition for a writ of certiorari with the United States Supreme Court.

         On May 9, 2016, Petitioner-Defendant filed his pro se motion to vacate his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. (Doc. No. 462.)


         I. Section 2255 Legal Standard and Procedural Issues

         As the Government has observed, Title 28, United States Code, Section 2255, provides that a prisoner “may move the court which imposed the sentence to vacate, set aside, or correct the sentence.” In making such a motion, a § 2255 action requires a prisoner to show that he has the right to be released because:

[T]he sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, or that the court was without jurisdiction to impose such sentence, or that the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law, or is otherwise subject to collateral attack. . . .

28 U.S.C. § 2255(a).

         It must be kept in mind that a § 2255 request for relief is extraordinary and “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.” United States v. Apfel, 97 F.3d 1074, 1076 (8th Cir. 1996). Thus, contrary to a number of Petitioner-Defendant's assertions which will be addressed below, § 2255 does not encompass all claimed errors in conviction and sentencing.” Sun Bear v. United States, 644 F.3d 700, 704 (8th Cir. 2011) (quoting United States v. Addonizio, 442 U.S. 178, 185 (1979)).

         Importantly, a § 2255 motion may not be utilized to collaterally attack issues that have been raised and decided on direct appeal. United States v. Wiley, 245 F.3d 750, 752 (8th Cir. 2001); Dall v. United States, 957 F.2d 571, 572 (8th Cir. 1992) (per curiam). Consequently, claims that were raised and decided on direct appeal cannot be reargued in a motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. See English v. United States, 998 F.2d 609, 612 (8th Cir. 1993). Moreover, “a defendant who has procedurally defaulted a claim by failing to raise it on direct review may raise that claim in a § 2255 proceeding only by demonstrating cause for the default and prejudice or actual innocense.” McNeal v. United States, 249 F.3d 747, 749 (8th Cir. 2001), citing Bousely v. United States, 523 U.S. 614, 622 (1998). Failure to raise an issue on direct appeal, in most cases, constitutes procedural default and precludes a defendant from raising that issue for the first time in a § 2255 motion. Dejan v. United States, 208 F.3d 682, 685 (8th Cir. 2000).

         II. Ineffective ...

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