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United States v. King

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

June 14, 2018

United States of America, Plaintiff,
v.
Robert Allen King, Defendant.

          ORDER

          JOAN N. ERICKSEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         A jury found Defendant guilty of possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of actual methamphetamine. The Court sentenced him to 180 months' imprisonment. Defendant appealed, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed. United States v. King, 854 F.3d 433 (8th Cir. 2017). Approximately one year later, Defendant filed a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence. See 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (2012). Because the record conclusively shows that Defendant is not entitled to relief, the Court denies his § 2255 motion without an evidentiary hearing. See Thomas v. United States, 737 F.3d 1202, 1206 (8th Cir. 2013).

         Section 2255 “provides a remedy for jurisdictional and constitutional errors.” Sun Bear v. United States, 644 F.3d 700, 704 (8th Cir. 2011) (en banc). “Beyond that, the permissible scope of a § 2255 collateral attack on a final conviction or sentence is severely limited; ‘an error of law does not provide a basis for collateral attack unless the claimed error constituted “a fundamental defect which inherently results in a complete miscarriage of justice.”'” Id. (quoting United States v. Addonizio, 442 U.S. 178, 185 (1979)).

         Defendant made several claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. A claim of ineffective assistance of counsel “may be brought in a collateral proceeding under § 2255, whether or not the petitioner could have raised the claim on direct appeal.” Massaro v. United States, 538 U.S. 500, 504 (2003).

         To prevail on a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, a defendant must show (1) that his “counsel's representation fell below an objective standard of reasonableness” and (2) “that there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different.” Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 688, 694 (1984). “Judicial scrutiny of counsel's performance must be highly deferential.” Id. at 689. In assessing the reasonableness of counsel's conduct, a court must “indulge a strong presumption that counsel's conduct falls within the wide range of reasonable professional assistance.” Id.

         Ground one

         Defendant asserted that he received ineffective assistance of counsel because his attorney, Jean Brandl, [1] failed “to object to a discovery and Brady violation.” He maintained that the government introduced a page of his cooperation agreement at trial even though no part of the agreement was provided to him in discovery. Defendant's claim has no merit. Although she did not receive a copy of the agreement, Ms. Brandl acknowledged that she reviewed three pages of the agreement, including the one that was introduced at trial, before the trial took place. Defendant has not demonstrated that the failure to obtain a copy of the agreement prejudiced him.

         The Court rejects ground one.

         Ground two

         Defendant asserted that he received ineffective assistance of counsel because Ms. Brandl failed to object to the government's motion to introduce a page of his cooperation agreement at trial. The following exchange took place during the government's cross-examination of Defendant at trial:

Q: One part of your cooperation agreement was a list of rules that you were required to follow; is that correct?
A: Yes.
Q: And that list of rules is Government's Exhibit 19; is that correct?
A: Yes.
MS. BELL: I move to admit Government's Exhibit 19.
MS. BRANDL: Your Honor, I would argue best evidence, that it's not the entire agreement.
THE COURT: Why don't you lay some more foundation about what it is? I can't evaluate that.
BY MS. BELL:
Q: You were given a single page that had all the rules that you had to follow on it, correct?
A: I was given a packet of papers.
Q: I understand, but I'm asking about the rules that you were required to follow.
A: This is one piece of the packet, yes.
Q: I'm asking you was there one piece of ...

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