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United States v. Geddes

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

November 2, 2017

United States of America, Respondent-Plaintiff,
v.
Rahmad Lashad Geddes, a/k/a Face, a/k/a Poo Poo, a/k/a S. Honore Geddes, a/k/a Jermaine Harvey, Petitioner-Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          DONOVAN W. FRANK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         INTRODUCTION

         This matter is before the Court on Petitioner-Defendant Rahmad Lashad Geddes's, a/k/a Face, a/k/a Poo Poo, a/k/a S. Honore Geddes, a/k/a Jermaine Harvey (“Petitioner-Defendant”) pro se Motion Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence. (Doc. No. 135.) The United States of America (the “Government”) opposes Petitioner-Defendant's petition. (Doc. No. 148.)

         Petitioner-Defendant alleges that his counsel was ineffective, asserting, in effect, four grounds for relief. Petitioner-Defendant claims that his counsel was ineffective for: (1) failing to challenge whether sex trafficking is a predicate crime of violence under the sentencing guidelines; (2) failing to dispute whether Petitioner-Defendant had the requisite predicate offenses for the career-offender classification under the guidelines; (3) failing to object or by conceding that Petitioner-Defendant had three qualifying convictions for application of the Armed Career Criminal Act (“ACCA”); and (4) failing to raise these and other claims on Petitioner-Defendant's direct appeal to the Eighth Circuit. For the reasons discussed below, the Court denies Petitioner-Defendant's motion and petition, both on procedural grounds and on the merits.

         BACKGROUND

         On April 27, 2015, a jury convicted Petitioner-Defendant of: (1) sex trafficking by force, fraud, or coercion (Count 1); (2) transportation with intent to engage in prostitution (Count 2); and (3) being a felon in possession of a firearm (Count 3). The sentence for sex trafficking by force, fraud, or coercion is a minimum of 180 months and up to life in prison, without regard to whether the defendant qualified as a career offender or armed career criminal. Moreover, even if the Court had determined that neither the career offender nor the ACCA guidelines applied, the sentence range would have been the same-262 to 327 months. Indeed, the Court noted at sentencing: “I will repeat something I said when we started. No matter what the guidelines are, I believe the 3553(a) factors would take me to a sentence of 282 months. I believe anything less than that would promote disrespect for the law.” (Sent. Tr. at 38; see also Sent. Tr. at 17.)

         The Presentence Report (“PSR”) correctly calculated the application to the United States Sentencing Guidelines (“U.S.S.G.”), including Petitioner-Defendant's designation as a career offender under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1 (for the sex-trafficking conviction) and as an armed career criminal under the ACCA (for the felon-in-possession conviction) based on Petitioner-Defendant's prior qualifying felony convictions: home invasion in Cook County, Illinois (PSR ¶ 47); first-degree assault in Hennepin County, Minnesota (PSR ¶ 50); and fifth-degree assault in Sherburne County, Minnesota (PSR ¶ 53). Consequently, with an adjusted base offense level of 37 and criminal history category VI, the presumptive guideline range was 360 months to life imprisonment. The government argued for a sentence of 360 months. Defense counsel argued for 180 months. On November 24, 2015, this Court sentenced Petitioner-Defendant to 282 months, with a lifetime of supervised release to follow. (Doc. No. 107.) This sentence comprised of 282 months on both Counts 1 and 3 to run concurrently. Id. at 2.

         Petitioner-Defendant, with the help of trial counsel, moved for a post-trial acquittal, which this Court denied. Petitioner-Defendant was then given a new lawyer for the purposes of filing a direct appeal to the Eighth Circuit, challenging (1) the Court's decision not to sever the sex-trafficking and gun counts; (2) the admission of limited testimony of victim N.M. pursuant to Rule 404(b) relating to a felony conviction for terroristic threats; (3) the admission of expert testimony on sex trafficking; and (4) that the sex-trafficking and interstate-transportation convictions (Counts 1 and 2) were not supported by sufficient evidence. On January 3, 2017, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Petitioner-Defendant's conviction. (Doc. No. 129.) On July 10, 2017, Petitioner-Defendant filed this pro se motion to vacate, set aside or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Section 2255 Legal Standard

         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).

         Relief under § 2255 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, § 2255 “does not encompass all claimed errors in conviction and sentencing.” Sun Bear ...


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