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Samuels v. USA

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

December 5, 2017

USA, Respondent.



         For the reasons explained in this Entry, the motion of Matthew Samuels 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. The § 2255 Motion

         A motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 is the presumptive means by which a federal prisoner can challenge her conviction or sentence. See Davis v. United States, 417 U.S. 333, 343 (1974). A court may grant relief from a federal conviction or sentence pursuant to § 2255 “upon the ground that the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, or that the court was without jurisdiction to impose such sentence, or that the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law, or is otherwise subject to collateral attack.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). The scope of relief available under § 2255 is narrow, limited to “an error of law that is jurisdictional, constitutional, or constitutes a fundamental defect which inherently results in a complete miscarriage of justice.” Borre v. United States, 940 F.2d 215, 217 (7th Cir. 1991) (internal citations omitted).

         II. Factual Background

         On August 2, 2013, Samuels was found with a Glock 22 .40 caliber handgun, marijuana, a methamphetamine pipe, and approximately two pounds of methamphetamine. On August 14, 2013, Samuels was charged with possession with the intent to distribute 500 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 846 and with possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A).

         On November 11, 2014, Samuels filed a Petition to Enter a Plea of Guilty and Plea Agreement but that petition was withdrawn because an amended petition and plea were subsequently filed.

         On February 1, 2016, the parties filed an amended Petition to Enter Plea of Guilty and Amended Plea Agreement pursuant to Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1)(C). Samuels agreed to plead guilty to Counts 1 and 3 of the Indictment, and the government agreed to dismiss Count 2 at sentencing. The parties agreed to a sentence of imprisonment of 300 months. Samuels agreed to waive his right to appeal and contest the conviction and sentence imposed on any ground except that of ineffective assistance of counsel, if the Court accepted the agreement and sentenced Samuels to 300 months imprisonment.

         On February 9, 2016, the Court held a change of plea and sentencing hearing. The Court found that Samuels was competent to enter a plea of guilty and that Samuels made his plea knowingly and willingly. After reviewing the stipulated factual basis for the plea, the Court accepted Samuels's plea of guilty to Counts 1 and 3 of the Indictment. The Court sentenced Samuels to 300 months of imprisonment to be followed by 10 years of supervised release. As agreed upon, the government moved to dismiss Count Two and the Court granted the motion. The Court entered a judgment of conviction on February 16, 2016.

         Samuels then filed the present motion for relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. The United States responded and filed a supplemental response as directed and Samuels has replied.

         III. Discussion

         Samuels seeks relief pursuant to § 2255 arguing that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to move to suppress the evidence seized at the traffic stop on the basis that the police officer lacked probable cause to initiate the traffic stop for speeding. He also contends that the use of the drug sniffing dog during the course of the traffic stop was unconstitutional. The United States argues that Samuels admitted at his plea hearing that he was speeding and that any challenge to the use of the drug sniffing dog would have been unsuccessful.

         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. In order to satisfy the prejudice component, Samuels ...

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