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Pitts v. United States

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division

December 20, 2016

DAVID J. PITTS, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          ENTRY DENYING MOTION FOR RELIEF PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 2255 AND DENYING CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY

          Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge.

         For the reasons explained in this Entry, the motion of David J. Pitts (“Pitts”) for relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 must be denied and the action dismissed with prejudice. In addition, the Court finds that a certificate of appealability should not issue.

         I. Background

         On June 15, 2010, Pitts was charged in multi-defendant Superseding Indictment that was filed in the Southern District of Indiana. See case number 2:10-cr-7-JMS-CMM-4. Pitts was charged in Count One with conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of a mixture containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine and conspiracy to distribute100 kilograms or more of marijuana, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 846.

         On October 25, 2010, Pitts was charged in an Information alleging that he had one prior drug felony, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 851(a)(1).

         On March 15, 2011, a jury found Pitts guilty of Count One of the Superseding Indictment. Pitts was convicted under 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(B)(ii), and 851.

         On September 9, 2011, the Court held a sentencing hearing. Because his criminal history included sufficient relevant felony convictions, he was deemed a “career offender” and thus subject to the sentencing enhancements of U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1.

         Pitts was sentenced to 420 months in prison, to be followed by ten years of supervised release. Pitts was also assessed the mandatory assessment of $100. The judgment of conviction was entered on September 15, 2011.

         Pitts filed a notice of appeal on September 15, 2011. On December 3, 2012, the Seventh Circuit affirmed Pitts' conviction and sentence. See United States v. Moreland, 703 F.3d 976 (7th Cir. 2012). On May 13, 2013, Pitts' Petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeal for the Seventh Circuit was denied.

         On May 12, 2014, Pitts filed a motion for post-conviction relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255.

         II. Discussion

         The Court must grant a § 2255 motion when a petitioner's “sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255. However, “[h]abeas corpus relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 is reserved for extraordinary situations.” Prewitt v. U.S., 83 F.3d 812, 816 (7th Cir. 1996). Relief under § 2255 is available only if an error is “constitutional, jurisdictional, or is a fundamental defect which inherently results in a complete miscarriage of justice.” Barnickel v. United States, 113 F.3d 704, 705 (7th Cir. 1997) (quotations omitted). It is appropriate to deny a § 2255 motion without an evidentiary hearing if “the motion and the files and records of the case conclusively demonstrate that the prisoner is entitled to no relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Pitts raises the following grounds for relief in his motion:

1. “Ineffective assistance of counsel at trial. Attorney failed to conduct an adequate fact investigation. Attorney failed to challenge admission of jail house calls intercepted without a warrant. Counsel failed to move for severance. Counsel failed to assert buy-seller defense. Counsel failed to argue that the total drug amounts were not reasonably foreseeable to Pitts.” Dkt. 1 at p. 4.
2. “The sentencing enhancements for prior convictions/criminal history and career offender violate 6th Amendment and Alleyne v. United States. Pitts' sentence was enhanced based on career offender status that was not alleged in the Indictment and not found beyond a reasonable doubt by a jury. This, [Pitts' argues, ] violates DePierre v. United States, 131 S.Ct. 2225, 2237 (2011) and Alleyne v. United States, 133 S.Ct. 2151 (2013).” Dkt. 1 at p. 5.

         A. Effective ...


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