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Mediate v. United States

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

March 16, 2018

LOGAN MEDIATE, Petitioner,



         Entry Discussing Motion for Relief Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 and Denying Certificate of Appealability

For the reasons explained in this entry, Petitioner Logan Mediate's (“Mediate”) motion 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 his 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).

         II. Factual Background

         Mediate's case began with the government's investigation and prosecution of his mother, Jennifer Gaddy (“Gaddy”), for distributing methamphetamine. According to the complaint initiating her prosecution and the factual basis for her guilty plea, Gaddy sold methamphetamine in three controlled buys. Gaddy dkts. 1, 31.[1] In one of the controlled buys, Gaddy sold methamphetamine on January 15, 2014, inside a residence located at 2519 South McClure Street in Indianapolis. Gaddy dkt. 31. The January 15 controlled buy was carried out by a “confidential human source, ” known as “CHS, ” who was working with the Federal Bureau of Investigations and a local gang crimes task force. Gaddy dkts. 1, 31. Gaddy was arrested on February 26, 2014, and charged with three counts of distributing methamphetamine. Crim. dkt. 1 at ¶ 7; Gaddy dkt. 12.

         According to the complaint filed in his criminal case, Mediate confronted CHS twice on March 17, 2014. Crim. dkt. 1. CHS visited a friend that evening at a residence on Lyons Avenue in Indianapolis. Id. at ¶ 8. CHS's children also were present. See Id. at ¶ 10. When CHS exited the residence, he found that Mediate and two other men had pulled up in a red pickup truck, positioning the truck in a manner that prevented CHS from driving away. Id. at ¶ 8. Mediate repeatedly accused CHS of “setting up” Gaddy's arrest through controlled buys. Id. at ¶ 9. Eventually, CHS gathered his children and fled to his own residence in Indianapolis's Mars Hill neighborhood. See Id. at ¶ 10.

         The complaint further states that Mediate and the other two men followed CHS. See Id. Outside CHS's residence, Mediate threatened to kill CHS unless he moved away from the Mars Hill neighborhood. Id. at ¶ 11. Mediate also discouraged CHS from testifying against Gaddy. Id. During this incident, Mediate allegedly pointed a sawed-off shotgun at CHS and fired a round into the air. Id. at ¶ 12.

         Later on March 17, CHS reported these confrontations to FBI and task force agents, describing Mediate's actions, the pickup truck, and the sawed-off shotgun. Id. at ¶ 8-13. On March 24, officers saw a red pickup truck matching CHS's description parked outside 2519 South McClure Street—the location of one of Gaddy's controlled buys. Id. at ¶ 14. A resident of the McClure Street home stated that Mediate regularly spent the night there and that, approximately a week earlier, Mediate had borrowed his red pickup truck for the night. Id. at ¶ 15. The resident stated that Mediate owned a sawed-off shotgun and led the officers to the bedroom where Mediate stayed. Id. In the closet, the officers saw a shotgun matching the description provided by CHS. Id. at ¶ 16.

         Mediate was subsequently arrested and indicted on five charges. Crim. dkt. 16. On April 2, 2015, Mediate pled guilty to tampering with a witness in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1512(a)(2) and possessing a short-barreled shotgun in furtherance of a crime of violence in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(B)(i). Crim. dkt. 64. During the plea hearing, Mediate admitted that he knew CHS was an informant who would testify against his mother, that he confronted CHS on March 17, 2014, that he had a shotgun present during the confrontation, and that he told CHS he would kill him unless he moved away from Mars Hill. Id. at 22:2-23:7. The Court accepted Mediate's guilty plea and, consistent with an agreement between Mediate and the United States, imposed a sentence of 156 months' imprisonment. Id. at 24:18-25:1, 33:8-14; crim. dkt. 38 at ¶ 2. Mediate now challenges his conviction on four grounds and asks the Court to remand his criminal case for a jury trial.

         III. Discussion

         Mediate challenges the enforceability of his guilty plea on three bases: that he entered his plea without the benefit of effective assistance from his court-appointed attorney; that he did not enter his plea voluntarily; and that he entered his plea without the benefit of exculpatory evidence that the government unlawfully withheld from him. Mediate also asks the Court to vacate his conviction for possessing a short-barreled shotgun in furtherance of a crime of violence based on the Supreme Court's decision in Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015). For the reasons set forth below, the Court finds that none of these arguments presents a basis for relief.[2]

         A. Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

         Mediate first asserts that he pled guilty without the effective assistance of counsel as guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment. Civ. dkt. 1 at 2-5, 7-8. Specifically, Mediate asserts that his court-appointed attorney, Theodore Minch, failed to thoroughly gather evidence, interview witnesses, and otherwise investigate the case. Id. In a supplement to his petition, Mediate states that he asked Mr. Minch to investigate CHS's credibility, interview certain witnesses, and obtain video from security cameras at homes and businesses near the locations where he confronted CHS. Civ. dkt. 16 at 2-5. Mediate implies that such an investigation may have uncovered evidence that would have enabled him to successfully defend his charges at a trial or even motivated the government to drop its charges.

         A petitioner claiming ineffective assistance of counsel bears the burden of showing that (1) trial counsel's performance fell below objective standards for reasonably effective representation, and (2) 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, Mediate must establish that “there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different.” Strickland, 466 U.S. at 694.

         When counsel's “purported deficiency is based on a failure to investigate, we require the petitioner to allege what the investigation would have produced.” Long v. United States, 847 F.3d 916, 920 (7th Cir. 2017) (internal quotation omitted). It is well-settled that an ineffective assistance claim based on deficient investigation “must provide the court sufficiently precise information, that is, a comprehensive showing as to what the investigation would have produced.” Richardson v. United States, 379 F.3d 485, 488 (7th Cir. 2004) (internal quotations and citations omitted). Moreover, if the petitioner pled guilty in the criminal proceeding, he must call the Court's attention to information that raises a reasonable probability that he would have insisted upon going to trial had the evidence been uncovered before he pled guilty. See Id. at 488 (citing Hill v. Lockhart, 474 U.S. 52, 58-60 (1985)).

         Mediate's motion falls short of the high standard for ineffective assistance claims. Although he has described specifically what avenues he believes Mr. Minch should have investigated, he has not described the evidence he believes Mr. Minch would have uncovered in that investigation. Mediate has not described what would have been captured by the security cameras he identified or what the witnesses he identified would have said to advance his defense.

         Mediate argues that interviewing CHS and the McClure Street resident who led investigators to the shotgun would have led to evidence that they cooperated with the government's prosecution of Mediate to achieve favorable resolution of their own criminal cases. See civ. dkt. 16 at 3-4. Such evidence may have raised questions about their credibility, but it would not have established Mediate's innocence. Moreover, Mediate pled guilty to intimidating CHS because his work as a confidential informant led to Gaddy's arrest. Consequently, Mediate cannot establish a reasonable probability that CHS's work as a confidential informant was unknown at the time he pled guilty or that knowledge of that work would have provoked him to defend his charges at trial had it been discovered sooner. Nor does the Court find a reasonable probability that evidence of the McClure Street resident's cooperation would have caused Mediate to insist upon going to trial. In sum, the Court finds no legal basis to support Mediate's ineffective assistance claim.

         B. Voluntariness of Plea

         Mediate next asserts that he did not enter voluntarily into his guilty plea. Civ. dkt. 1 at 3- 4. Rather, he asserts that the factual basis for his plea was false—that he did not point or discharge a firearm or otherwise threaten CHS. Id. at 4. Mediate further asserts that he maintained his ...

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