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Matheny v. USA

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

March 13, 2017

USA, Respondent.



         On July 16, 2015, Petitioner Tywuan Matheny (“Matheny”) pled guilty to bank robbery and brandishing a firearm and was sentenced to a total of 252 months in case number 1:14-cr-210-TWP-TAB-1. Judgment of conviction was entered on July 23, 2015. Matheny now seeks relief from that conviction and sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. For the reasons that follow, Matheny's § 2255 motion is denied and a Certificate of Appealability shall not issue.

         I. Background

         On October 15, 2014, Matheny was charged by Indictment with armed bank robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a), (d), and brandishing a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A)(ii). Matheny pled guilty under a Plea Agreement reached pursuant to Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(c)(1)(B). The Plea Agreement stipulated that Matheny is classified as a Career Offender and recommended a Guideline Range of 272-319 months under USSG § 4B1.1(c)(2). Matheny was found to be a Career Offender under the Sentencing Guidelines based on his prior criminal convictions. On July 23, 2015, the Court sentenced Matheny to 164 months for bank robbery and 84 months for brandishing a firearm, to be served consecutively for an aggregate term of 252 months imprisonment.

         II. The § 2255 Motion

         Matheny, in a pro se petition, now seeks relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 arguing that his counsel was ineffective in advising him regarding his plea negotiations and that his sentence is unlawful.

         A. Ineffective Assistance

         Matheny argues that his counsel was ineffective in failing to adequately advise him related to plea negotiations, sentence exposure, and information needed to make an intelligent decision whether to plead guilty or risk trial and the ramification of the career application of his prior convictions. (Dkt. 2 at 3.) Specifically, he alleges counsel advised him that he could plead only to the plea agreement offered by the United States and failed to advise him of the consequences of his plea of guilty. Matheny further alleges his counsel “assured that he was only facing a maximum of twelve to fifteen years.” (Dkt. 2 at 5.)

         A petitioner claiming ineffective assistance of counsel bears the burden of showing (1) that trial counsel's performance fell below objective standards for reasonably effective representation and (2) that this deficiency prejudiced the defense. Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 688- 94 (1984); United States v. Jones, 635 F .3d 909, 915 (7th Cir. 2011). To satisfy the first prong of the Strickland test, the petitioner must direct the Court to specific acts or omissions of his counsel. Wyatt v. United States, 574 F.3d 455, 458 (7th Cir. 2009). The Court must then consider whether in light of all of the circumstances counsel's performance was outside the wide range of professionally competent assistance. Id.

         1. Advice Regarding Negotiating a More Favorable Plea

         First, Matheny asserts that his counsel was ineffective because he did not advise Matheny of the possibility of negotiating a more favorable plea agreement than the one to which he agreed. But “[t]he successful negotiation of a plea agreement involves factors beyond the control of counsel, including . . . the cooperation of the prosecutor.” United States v. Hall, 212 F.3d 1016, 1022 (7th Cir. 2000) (citations omitted). Matheny presents no evidence or argument that the United States would have offered or accepted a different plea agreement than the one that was reached. He thus has failed to show that a more favorable plea agreement could have been negotiated. In other words, he has failed to show both that his counsel's performance was deficient in this regard, or that any alleged deficiency prejudiced him.

         2. Advice Regarding the Plea Agreement

         Matheny also argues that his counsel was ineffective because he failed to accurately explain the terms of the plea agreement to him. However, the Plea Agreement clearly explains the factual basis for the agreement and the potential sentences. (Crim. Dkt. 73:1-2, 7-8).[1] The Plea Agreement stated that the possible sentence for bank robbery was not more than twenty-five years and the possible sentence for brandishing a firearm was not less than seven years. (Crim. Dkt. 73:1-2). Based on this, therefore, Matheny was facing a sentence of up to thirty-two years or more. Matheny confirmed that he understood the consequences of the Plea Agreement. The Plea Agreement states:

the determination of the sentence is within the discretion of the Court. . . . [I]f the Court decides to impose a sentence higher or lower than any recommendation of either party, or determines a different sentencing guideline applies in this case, or decides to depart from the otherwise applicable sentencing guideline range . . . then [Matheny] will not be permitted to withdraw his plea of guilty for that reason and will be bound by his plea of guilty.

(Crim. Dkt. 73:3-4). Matheny then affirmed that he had read and discussed the agreement with his attorney and that the terms of the plea agreement “correctly reflect the results of plea negotiations.” Matheny also affirmed his understanding of his plea agreement and its possible consequences at the change of plea hearing. He affirmed on the record, that he understood that the sentence for armed bank robbery could be as much as twenty-five years:

THE COURT: This is a Class B felony that under statutory provisions carries 25 years' imprisonment and up to $250, ...

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