United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division
ENTRY DENYING MOTION FOR RELIEF PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255 AND DENYING A CERTIFICATE OF
JANE MAGNUS-STINSON, CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT
Quintrell Light moves pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to
vacate his conviction and set aside his guilty plea in
criminal case number 2:13-cr-0011-JMS-CMM-1. For the reasons
set forth below, the motion, dkt. , is
denied and a certificate of appealability is
October, 2012, Light was an inmate in the United States
Penitentiary Terre Haute, serving a sentence imposed by a
federal court in Minnesota, when he was found in possession
of a “shank.” On March 6, 2013, an Indiana
federal grand jury indicted Light for possessing a prohibited
object in a federal correctional facility in violation of 18
U.S.C. §§ 1791(a)(2) and 1791(b)(3). An attorney
from the Indiana Federal Community Defenders office was
appointed to represent Light. Not satisfied with this
attorney, Light asked for a different attorney, so a
different attorney was substituted for the first on April 10,
2013. After a year with the second attorney, Light asked for
yet a new attorney. The second attorney withdrew and a third
attorney entered her appearance for Light. A plea agreement
was negotiated and filed on August 6, 2014. Hand-written into
the plea agreement was language concerning Light's mental
health and the recommendations that would be made:
The government understands that the Defense is requesting
that Mr. Light be provided with mental health treatment. The
government understands that the Defense is requesting that
Mr. Light be placed in a facility where he can receive mental
health treatment. The parties are free to present evidence on
this issue. The government will not oppose Mr. Light's
request for mental health treatment.
United States v. Light, No. 2:13-cr-0011-JMS-CMM,
dkt. 68, p. 7. (S.D. Ind.).
change of plea hearing was held the same day. Light testified
that he could read and write and that he understood the plea
agreement. Crim. dkt. 103, pp. 3-4 (transcript of change of
plea hearing). Terre Haute prison officials took Light off
his mental health medications about a week prior to the
hearing, but Light said he knew why he was in Court.
Id. at p. 4. He testified, “I know what's
going to happen today. I just - I'm all right. I know
I'm taking the deal for the 27 months.”
Id. Light denied being on any medication, and when
asked if the case should proceed, Light answered,
“Yeah, I'm all right. I'm hanging in there.
I'm good.” Id. at p. 5.
Court discussed the indictment and the plea agreement with
Light. Light said he was satisfied with his counsel's
efforts to negotiate the 27-month plea agreement, and added,
“[H]opefully I get some help.” Id. at p.
7. The Court responded, “I can make recommendations, on
the day that you're sentenced, about placement and
stuff.” Id. Light replied, “Yeah, yeah.
I - yeah.” Id.
signed the plea agreement and the factual basis again in open
Court. Crim. dkts. 68 & 69. The Court found there was a
factual basis for the plea, that Light was fully competent to
enter a plea, and that the plea was knowingly and voluntarily
entered. Crim. dkt. 103, p. 21.
the change of plea but before sentencing, and at the request
of defense counsel, Light underwent a competency evaluation.
A preliminary report was issued determining that Light was
competent. Competency thereafter was not an issue. The Court
had throughout the proceedings stayed alert to Light's
mental health issues. See, e.g., crim. dkt. 19
(April 4, 2013, Order directing, inter alia, defense
counsel to investigate competency issues and take appropriate
action); crim. dkt. 24 (Order granting motion for psychiatric
examination); crim. dkts. 71 & 75 (Entries addressing
Light's medication concerns). At sentencing, the Court
noted that Light had “a significant history of mental
health issues.” Crim. dkt. 106, p. 4. However, based on
the information in the preliminary report from the recent
competency evaluation and inquiry made in open court, the
Court found Light competent to proceed with sentencing.
and his counsel addressed the Court. Neither had any concern
with the factual basis for the plea, the knowing and
voluntary nature of the plea, or the agreed-upon sentence.
Instead, both spoke about Light's mental health needs and
the urgency of removing him from Terre Haute and into a
facility that could address Light's myriad mental health
issues. The government also addressed the Court, essentially
saying that no matter what the Court recommended, in the end
it was the Bureau of Prison's sole decision, and under
its policies, Light did not qualify for programs such as the
mental health step-down program, intensive residential
treatment program, or other treatment programs mentioned by
Light's counsel. Crim. dkt. 106, pp. 8-14.
Court imposed the agreed-upon 27-month term of imprisonment
and recommended that Light be moved from Terre Haute. The
Court also recommended that Light be allowed to participate
in one or more of the Bureau of Prison's programs such as
the step-down program, the stages program, and the challenge
program. Id., p. 15. The Court's Criminal
Judgment sets out the recommendations:
court makes the following recommendations to the Bureau of
That the defendant be removed from USP Terre Haute as
expeditiously as possible. He should be evaluated for
borderline personality disorder and offered access to the
Step Down Program (at FCI Butner or USP Atlanta), the
Challenge Program (at a variety of facilities), and the
Stages Program (at USP Florence). The Court also recommends
the Bureau of Prisons develop a pharmacological regimen ...