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Jiggetts v. United States

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division

February 12, 2015

DARIUS L. JIGGETTS, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent. Arising Out of No. 11-CR-84 RM

OPINION and ORDER

ROBERT L. MILLER, Jr., District Judge.

On September 21, 2011, a jury found Darius Jiggetts guilty of one count of aggravated bank robbery (Count 1) and one count of carrying or using a firearm during a crime of violence (Count 2); he was sentenced on January 9, 2012 to consecutive terms of 87 months on Count 1 and 84 months on Count 2 (for an aggregate sentence of 171 months' imprisonment), to be followed by a three-year supervised release term. Mr. Jiggetts was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $12, 281.35 and special assessments of $200.00. Judgment was entered that same day. The court of appeals affirmed his conviction and sentence on April 1, 2013; no petition for a writ of certiorari was filed. After being granted an extension of time to file his petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, Mr. Jiggetts is now before the court having filed a timely petition asking that his sentence be vacated or set aside.

A person convicted of a federal crime can attack his sentence on the ground that the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, the court had no jurisdiction to impose such sentence, the sentence exceeded the maximum authorized by law, or the sentence is otherwise subject to collateral attack. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). Issues already argued and decided on direct appeal can't be raised in a § 2255 petition without a showing of changed circumstances. Belford v. United States, 975 F.2d at 313. A claim of ineffective assistance of counsel not raised on direct appeal can still be raised in a § 2255 petition. Massaro v. United States, 538 U.S. 500, 504 (2003).

An evidentiary hearing isn't required if "the motion and files and records of the case conclusively show that the petitioner is entitled to no relief." 28 U.S.C. § 2255.After reviewing Mr. Jiggetts's petition and the record of this case, the court concludes that the factual and legal issues raised by Mr. Jiggetts can be resolved on the record, so no hearing on his § 2255 petition is necessary. See Menzer v. United States, 200 F.3d 1000, 1006 (7th Cir. 2000) (hearing not required where record conclusively demonstrates that petitioner is entitled to no relief on § 2255 motion).

Mr. Jiggetts' petition contains his claims of ineffective assistance of counsel, specifically that his trial counsel's conflict of interest caused counsel to provide ineffective assistance and his appellate counsel provided ineffective assistance by filing an Anders brief. Mr. Jiggetts also claims an acquittal is appropriate under Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure 29 and 34 based on the insufficiency of the evidence.

Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

To succeed on his ineffective assistance of counsel claim, Mr. Jiggetts must show, first, that his attorney's performance was deficient - "that counsel made errors so serious that counsel was not functioning as the counsel' guaranteed the defendant by the Sixth Amendment" - and second, that counsel's deficient performance prejudiced his defense - "that counsel's errors were so serious as to deprive [the defendant] of a fair trial, a trial whose result is reliable." Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687 (1984); see also Kimmelman v. Morrison, 477 U.S. 365, 374 (1986) ("The essence of an ineffective-assistance claim is that counsel's unprofessional errors so upset the adversarial balance between defense and prosecution that the trial was rendered unfair and the verdict rendered suspect."). A strong presumption exists that counsel performed effectively. Berkey v. United States, 318 F.3d 768, 772 (7th Cir. 2003).

The reasonableness of counsel's performance must be evaluated "from counsel's perspective at the time of the alleged error and in light of all the circumstances." Kimmelman v. Morrison, 477 U.S. at 381. "Even if counsel's performance was deficient, a petitioner must also show that there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different, ' meaning a probability sufficient to undermine confidence in the outcome.'" Eckstein v. Kingston, 460 F.3d 844, 848 (7th Cir. 2006) ( quoting Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. at 694). "In weighing the effect of counsel's errors, the court must consider the totality of the evidence.... A verdict or conclusion that is overwhelmingly supported by the record is less likely to have been affected by errors than one that is only weakly supported by the record." Eckstein v. Kingston, 460 F.3d at 848 ( quoting Hough v. Anderson, 272 F.3d 878, 891 (7th Cir. 2001)).

Trial Counsel

Mr. Jiggetts claims representation by his trial counsel, Robert Truitt, was ineffective because Mr. Truitt had a conflict of interest. Mr. Jiggetts says he told Mr. Truitt that the photographs used at trial showed an "unknown, unidentified" bank robber, but Mr. Truitt "must have been in a strained position of gaining favor with the U.S. Attorney's Office." Petn., at 13. Mr. Jiggetts says he also told Mr. Truitt that he wasn't involved in the bank robbery at issue in this case, but Mr. Truitt "intentionally withheld ALL evidence that would help [Mr. Jiggetts] at trial." Petn., at 15. Mr. Jiggetts concludes that "the actual conflict in this case is too glaring, and the nondisclosure of the conflict too significant, to require any further evidence that [his] representation was adversely affected." Petn., at 15. The court can't agree.

Attorneys who appear in court owe their allegiance to their clients, within the bounds of court rules, and not to anyone else, and when that allegiance is divided between two opposing interests, a conflict exists. Conflicts can exist where counsel represents multiple defendants or where counsel's own interests conflict with his client's. Where there is an actual conflict, a § 2255 petitioner must only show an adverse effect on the attorney's performance; prejudice is presumed. Where there is no actual conflict, the Strickland ineffective assistance of counsel test is applied.

Collins v. United States, No. 14-cv-144, 2014 WL 1584441, at *2 (S.D. Ill. Apr. 21, 2014) (internal citations omitted).

Mr. Jiggetts has offered nothing beyond his own conclusion that a conflict of interest existed. To the extent Mr. Jiggetts contends Mr. Truitt had some unidentified incentive to cooperate with the government to his detriment, Mr. Jiggetts hasn't pointed to any evidence that would support that claim and the court has found none. Mr. Jiggetts hasn't demonstrated "a reasonable likelihood that his counsel's performance would have been different had there been no conflict of interest." Blake v. United States, 723 F.3d 870, 880 (7th Cir. 2013).

Because Mr. Jiggetts hasn't shown that an "actual" conflict existed, he must establish his ineffective assistance of counsel claim under the standard set forth in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984), by showing that "counsel's representation fell below an objectively reasonable standard of care, and that there is a reasonable probability that but for counsel's unprofessional errors the trial outcome would have ...


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