United States District Court, D. Minnesota
P. Steinkamp, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, for
J. Ferguson, pro se.
Patrick J. Schiltz United States District Judge.
Calvin Ferguson pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession
of a firearm and was sentenced to 46 months'
imprisonment. Ferguson did not appeal. Ferguson now moves
under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to vacate his conviction on
grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel. For the reasons
that follow, Ferguson's motion is denied. Because the
record conclusively demonstrates that Ferguson is not
entitled to relief, no hearing is necessary. 28 U.S.C. §
2255(b); Noe v. United States, 601 F.3d 784, 792
(8th Cir. 2010).
23, 2016, at approximately 1:50 am, Trooper Lee McClure of
the Minnesota State Patrol was finishing up a traffic stop in
Minneapolis. ECF No. 70 at 14- 16. As he was walking back to
his squad car, Trooper McClure “heard a vehicle
accelerate very quickly and hard.” Id. at 20.
He turned around, saw two vehicles “quickly
accelerating, ” got into his squad car, and started
pursuing the two vehicles “to get a radar
reading.” Id. at 20-21. He locked in on a
Dodge Charger being driven by Ferguson and clocked him going
92 miles per hour. Id. at 22. Trooper McClure
continued to pursue Ferguson and witnessed Ferguson
extinguish his car's headlights, run a red light, and
almost crash into a city bus. Id. at 24; ECF No. 33
at 1. At that point, Trooper McClure turned on his lights and
sirens in an attempt to get Ferguson to pull over, but
Ferguson refused. ECF No. 70 at 24-26. Eventually, Ferguson
slowed his car near a fire station in south Minneapolis,
jumped out of the car while it was still in gear, and fled
from Trooper McClure on foot. Id. at 26; ECF No. 33
at 1. Ferguson's car continued rolling and crashed into
the fire station. Id.
McClure was able to arrest a passenger of Ferguson's
(after the passenger tripped while fleeing on foot), but
Ferguson got away. ECF No. 70 at 27. After securing the
passenger, Trooper McClure examined Ferguson's abandoned
car and spotted a gun stashed in a sock on the driver's
side of the car between the seat and front console.
Id. at 27-31. (The gun was later tested and found to
contain Ferguson's DNA. ECF No. 49 at ¶ 12.)
was eventually apprehended and charged with one count of
being a felon in possession of a firearm. ECF No. 1.
Ferguson's attorney, Reynaldo Aligada, moved to suppress
evidence of the gun, arguing that the search of
Ferguson's car was unlawful. Magistrate Judge Franklin L.
Noel held a hearing on the motion to suppress on December 7,
2016. See ECF No. 70. At the hearing, Trooper
McClure testified to the facts described above. Id.
at 14-53. Aligada submitted a brief after the hearing,
arguing that the property inside the car was not abandoned,
that the search of the car could not be justified as an
inventory search, and that the search of the car was not
lawful under the plain-view doctrine. ECF No. 28. Before
Judge Noel ruled on the motion to suppress, the parties
reached a plea agreement. ECF No. 29. Aligada withdrew the
motion to suppress and all other pretrial motions.
January 18, 2017, Ferguson pleaded guilty to one count of
being a felon in possession of a firearm. See ECF
No. 80. At his change-of-plea hearing, the Court accepted
Ferguson's plea after thoroughly questioning him.
was sentenced on May 23, 2017 to 46 months' imprisonment,
the bottom of the range recommended by the Sentencing
Guidelines. ECF Nos. 47, 48. Ferguson did not appeal his
sentence. See ECF No. 57 at 1-2. A year later,
Ferguson filed the pending § 2255 petition, arguing that
his conviction should be vacated because he received
ineffective assistance of counsel.
complains about two aspects of Aligada's representation.
First, Ferguson alleges that Aligada refused to answer his
questions regarding the law that governed his suppression
motion, leaving Ferguson unable to make a fully informed
decision about whether that motion should be withdrawn and
the government's plea offer accepted. ECF No. 58 at 2-3.
Second, Ferguson alleges that Aligada provided ineffective
assistance of counsel by failing to challenge what Ferguson
characterizes as the “traffic stop.” See
ECF No. 83 at 4-5, 10-11. The Court will address
Ferguson's arguments in turn.
28 U.S.C. § 2255, a defendant serving a federal sentence
may move “to vacate, set aside or correct [his]
sentence” if “the sentence was imposed in
violation of the Constitution or laws of the United
States.” Ferguson alleges that his sentence was imposed
in violation of the Sixth Amendment, because he was denied
effective assistance of counsel. To establish ineffective
assistance of counsel, Ferguson must satisfy the familiar
two-part Strickland standard, establishing both
deficient performance and prejudice. Hill v.
Lockhart, 474 U.S. 52, 54-57 (1985); Strickland v.
Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687 (1984). That is, Ferguson
must show both that his “counsel's representation
fell below an objective standard of reasonableness” and
“that there is a reasonable probability that, but for
counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the
proceeding would have been different.”
Strickland, 466 U.S. at 688, 694.
Aligada's (Lack of) Advice During the ...