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Anderson v. United States

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

December 19, 2018




         This matter is before the Court on Petitioner Denny Ray Anderson's (“Anderson”) Motion to Vacate, Set Aside or Correct Sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (“§ 2255 Motion”) (Dkt.

         1). Anderson filed the present motion alleging that his guilty plea was not “intelligent, knowing, or voluntary in violation of” the Due Process Clause and that his trial counsel rendered constitutionally ineffective assistance by permitting him to plead guilty despite knowledge of his mental health problems. Id. Following an evidentiary hearing, and after considering the record in both this case and the underlying criminal action, the Court makes findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Rule 52(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.[1] For the reasons set forth below, the Court concludes that it had bona fide reasons to doubt Anderson's competence during his criminal proceedings and thus, should have ordered a competency hearing. Anderson's Motion is granted, and the Judgment entered in Case No. 1:11-cr-00201-TWP-TAB is vacated. The United States shall have thirty (30) days from the date of this Entry to notify the Court of its intent to retry Anderson in the criminal case. If the United States elects to retry Anderson, he may raise the question of his competence to stand trial at that time and request a hearing on the issue.


         The Court must grant a § 2255 motion when a petitioner's “sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255. However, “[h]abeas corpus relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 is reserved for extraordinary situations.” Prewitt v. United States, 83 F.3d 812, 816 (7th Cir. 1996). Relief under § 2255 is available only if an error is “constitutional, jurisdictional, or is a fundamental defect which inherently results in a complete miscarriage of justice.” Barnickel v. United States, 113 F.3d 704, 705 (7th Cir. 1997) (quotations omitted).


         A. Procedural Background

         On October 19, 2011, Anderson was charged by Indictment with being a felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1) and 924(e). Anderson was initially represented by an Indiana Federal Community Defender counsel and beginning February 24, 2012 he was represented by CJA counsel Jessie A. Cook (“Cook”).

         Anderson was scheduled for trial by jury on August 27, 2012; however, on August 16, 2012, he filed a Petition to Enter a Plea of Guilty. (Crim. Dkt. 50).[2] That same day the parties filed a fully executed Plea Agreement (Crim. Dkt. 51). The Plea Agreement, pursuant to Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(c)(1)(C), stated that Anderson would plead guilty to the charge alleged in the Indictment and be sentenced to the statutory minimum term of 180 months' imprisonment. The Plea Agreement further provided that in exchange for concessions made by the United States, Anderson expressly waived his right to a direct appeal of the conviction and sentence imposed. He did not, however, waive his right to collaterally attack the conviction and sentence via 28 U.S.C. § 2255. The Court vacated the trial and set the change of plea hearing for August 27, 2012.

         B. The Change of Plea Hearing

         Anderson appeared before the Court for his change of plea hearing on August 27, 2012. At the beginning of the hearing, Anderson and his counsel were asked to come to the lectern for the plea colloquy. Anderson was wearing shackles on his ankles and his hands were cuffed. On the lectern is a microphone which the speaker must utilize for the benefit of the court reporter. When Anderson stepped away from the middle of the lectern, the Court stated, “Come right here. Where are you going, Mr. Anderson?” The court reporter then recorded someone (not Anderson) as saying “ready to run around for a while” at the same time as Anderson moved closer to the microphone and center of the lectern. The Court responded, “Okay. You have to stay in here.” (Crim. Dkt. 75 at 4.) During the hearing, the following colloquy took place:

COURT: Have you been treated recently for any mental illness or addictions to alcohol or narcotic drugs of any kind?
DEFENDANT: I'm on psychotropic drugs right now.
COURT: Okay. What's your diagnosis?
DEFENDANT: Paranoid schizophrenia and a few other things. I don't know exactly everything.
COURT: So, are you currently under the influence of any drugs or medication?
DEFENDANT: Medication.
COURT: Okay. Does your medication affect your ability to understand today's proceedings?
DEFENDANT: Not that I know of, Your Honor.
COURT: Okay. So, right now you're thinking clearly, and you understand what's going on?
DEFENDANT: Right. I mean, as good as I can, yeah.

(Crim. Dkt. 75 at 5.)

         Also, during the hearing, the Court asked if Anderson understood that his guilty plea would deprive him of valuable civil rights:

COURT: Mr. Anderson, do you understand that the offense to which you are pleading guilty, because it's a felony offense, if the plea is accepted, you will be adjudged guilty of that offense, and this adjudication may deprive you of valuable civil rights, such as the right to vote, the right to hold public office, the right to serve on a jury, and the right to possess any kind of firearm. Do you understand?
COURT: Okay. Knowing - DEFENDANT: That's pretty good.
COURT: I'm sorry?
DEFENDANT: That's pretty good.
COURT: Knowing all of these factors, do you still wish to enter into this plea of guilty?

Id. at 9-10. At the end of the hearing the Court accepted Anderson's plea, adjudged him guilty, ordered a presentence investigation report (the “PSR”) and scheduled a sentencing hearing.

         C. The Sentencing Hearing

         The final PSR was filed by the United States Probation officer on October 29, 2012. Under the section titled Mental and Emotional Health, the report stated:

The defendant has been diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder and hyperkinetic syndrome through Wishard Hospital. He states he has also been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, chronic depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). He has reportedly been prescribed Ritalin for ADHD, thorazine for schizophrenia, and Artane for side effects of his other medication. Medical notes from IU Medical Center indicate when he was released from prison in 2011, he was prescribed thorazine for anxiety and Artane, although it does not state the reason for this medication, and was referred to Midtown Mental Health. Although requested, no records were received from Midtown Mental Health.

(Crim. Dkt. 56 at 17). On November 1, 2012, the sentencing hearing was conducted. Anderson received a three-level reduction for acceptance of responsibility under U.S.S.G. § 3E1.1. He was an Armed Career Criminal under 18 U.S.C. § 924(e). His total offense level was 31 and his criminal history category was VI (based on both his criminal history points and his status as an Armed Career Criminal). His guideline range was 188 to 235 months' imprisonment. The Court, in conformity with the Plea Agreement, sentenced Anderson to a term of imprisonment of 180 months (the statutory minimum) to be followed by five years of supervised release. Anderson was also ...

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