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United States v. Patterson

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division

May 10, 2018




         On September 10, 2015, this Court sentenced the Defendant, Cameron Patterson, on his plea of guilty to committing armed bank robbery. On August 28, 2017, the Defendant filed a Motion Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody [ECF No. 207], and on January 3, 2018, filed a Supplemental Motion [ECF No. 218]. The Government has responded to the Defendant's motions, the Defendant has filed a reply, and the matter is ripe for review.


         On May 29, 2013, three individuals robbed the PNC Bank in Ossian, Indiana. Subsequent investigation, led by Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent Stewart, identified the Defendant as potentially being one of the robbers. On July 23, 2013, Special Agent Stewart and an FBI Task Force Officer initiated an interview with the Defendant. During the interview, the Defendant confessed his involvement in the Ossian bank robbery. On August 28, 2013, the Defendant and co-defendant Dontae Travier were charged by way of Indictment with armed bank robbery and aiding and abetting, violations of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a) and (d) and 18 U.S.C. § 2.

         On March 12, 2014, counsel for the Defendant filed a motion to suppress the statements the Defendant made to law enforcement on July 23, 2013, and any evidence recovered as a result of the statements, on the grounds that they were made in violation of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), because he was not advised of his Fifth Amendment rights before he offered the statements.[1] The Government argued that the Defendant was not in custody at the time of the interrogation. The Court conducted an evidentiary hearing and received briefing. On February 21, 2015, the Court issued an Opinion and Order denying the Defendant's Motion to Suppress on grounds that the Defendant was not in custody for purposes of Miranda. A jury trial was scheduled to begin on March 10, 2015.

         At a telephonic pretrial conference on March 3, 2015, counsel for the Defendant requested that he be allowed until March 5, 2015, to file a plea agreement. On March 4, 2015, counsel filed three motions in limine and proposed jury instructions.

         On March 5, 2015, a plea agreement between the Government and the Defendant was filed with the Court. It was a conditional plea agreement, meaning that the Defendant “specifically preserve[d] his right to challenge on appeal the Opinion and Order dated February 21, 2015, which denied [his] motion to suppress.” (Plea Agreement ¶ 6, ECF No. 86.) A separate provision of the plea agreement provided:

I understand that the law gives a convicted person the right to appeal the conviction and the sentence imposed. I also understand that no one can predict the precise sentence that will be imposed, and that the Court has jurisdiction and authority to impose any sentence within the statutory maximum set for my offense as set forth in this plea agreement. With this understanding and in consideration of the government's entry into this plea agreement, I expressly waive my right to appeal (except as provided in paragraph 6 of this Plea Agreement) or to contest my conviction and all components of my sentence, or the manner in which my conviction or my sentence was determined or imposed, to any Court on any ground, other than any claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, including any appeal under Title 18, United States Code, Section 3742 or any post-conviction proceeding, including but not limited to, a proceeding under Title 28, United States Code, Section 2255.

(Id. ¶ 8.g.)

         The Court referred the matter to Magistrate Judge Susan Collins to conduct a change of plea hearing to determine whether the Defendant was competent to enter a plea, the Defendant knowingly and voluntarily wished to enter a guilty plea, the Defendant understood the charges against him, and there existed a factual basis for the charges. After conducting the change of plea hearing, the Magistrate Judge issued Findings and Recommendation, finding that the Defendant understood the nature of the charges against him, understood the rights he was giving up by pleading guilty, understood the possible sentences he could receive, was pleading guilty knowingly and voluntarily, was competent to plead guilty, understood his answers could be used against him later in a prosecution for perjury or false statement, and that there was a factual basis for the plea. The Magistrate Judge recommended that the Court accept the Defendant's plea of guilty. No. party filed objections to the Findings and Recommendation, and on April 7, 2015, the Court adopted the Report and Recommendation, and set the matter for sentencing.

         After sentencing, the Defendant appealed the Court's denial of his motion to suppress. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, concluding that, based on a totality of the circumstances, the Defendant was not in custody when he made the statements to law enforcement on July 23, 2013, as his freedom of movement was not curtailed similar to that of a formal arrest.


         The Defendant is attempting to collaterally attack his conviction despite entering into a plea agreement waiving his right to do so. A plea agreement is a type of contract subject to contract law principles tempered by limits that the Constitution places on the criminal process. See United States v. Bownes, 405 F.3d 634, 636 (7th Cir. 2005). Courts “enforce a plea agreement's appellate waiver if its terms are clear and unambiguous and the record shows that the defendant knowingly and voluntarily entered into the agreement.” United States v. Linder, 530 F.3d 556, 561 (7th Cir. 2008) (quotation marks and citation omitted). “A defendant may validly waive both his right to a direct appeal and his right to collateral review under § 2255 as a part of his plea agreement.” Keller v. United States, 657 F.3d 675, 681 (7th Cir. 2011) (citing Jones v. United States, 167 F.3d 1142, 1144 (7th Cir. 1999)).

         Here, the Defendant's waiver of his right to collaterally attack his conviction and sentence, “including but not limited to, a proceeding under Title 28, United States Code, Section 2255” (Plea Agreement ¶ 8.g.) is express and unambiguous. It cites the exact provision of the United States Code the Defendant now invokes to challenge his conviction and sentence. The Seventh Circuit has “generally upheld and enforced these waivers, with limited exceptions for cases in which the plea agreement was involuntary, the district court ‘relied on a constitutionally impermissible factor (such as race), ' the ‘sentence exceeded the statutory maximum, ' or the defendant claims ‘ineffective assistance of counsel in connection with the negotiation of [the plea] agreement.'” Keller, 657 F.3d at 681 (quoting Jones, 167 F.3d at 1144-45); see also Hurlow v. United States, 726 F.3d 958, 965 (7th Cir. 2013) (reiterating that ...

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