United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
DOROTHY M. NEELEY, Petitioner,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.
ENTRY DISCUSSING MOTION FOR RELIEF PURSUANT TO 28
U.S.C. § 2255 AND DENYING CERTIFICATE OF
EVANS BARKER, JUDGE
reasons explained in this Entry, the motion of Dorothy Neeley
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
The § 2255 Motion
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). “Relief under this statute is available
only in extraordinary situations, such as an error of
constitutional or jurisdictional magnitude or where a
fundamental defect has occurred which results in a complete
miscarriage of justice.” Blake v. United
States, 723 F.3d 870, 878-79 (7th Cir. 2013) (citing
Prewitt v. United States, 83 F.3d 812, 816 (7th Cir.
1996); Barnickel v. United States, 113 F.3d 704, 705
(7th Cir. 1997).
Factual and Procedural Background
and several others were “involved in a vast
methamphetamine-distribution conspiracy in an around North
Vernon, Indiana from October 2013 through May 2014.”
United States v. Maggard, 865 F.3d 960, 964 (7th
Cir. 2017). As part of this conspiracy, Neeley supplied
methamphetamine to her codefendant Jeremy Jackson. On April
5, 2014, she sold him a particularly potent batch that
ultimately killed Jackson's wife Jessie. Id.
August 4, 2015, Neeley and others were charged in a ten-count
Second Superseding Indictment in this Court. Neeley was
charged in Counts 1, 4, 6, and 8. Count 1 charged conspiracy
to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine, in
violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 846. Counts
4, 6, and 8 charged distribution of methamphetamine, in
violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). The Second
Superseding Indictment also contained a sentencing
enhancement alleging that a death resulted from the use of
methamphetamine distributed by Neeley and Jackson as charged
in Counts 1, 6, and 7.
September 25, 2015, Neeley was found guilty by a jury of
Counts 1, 4, 6, and 8, including the sentencing enhancement
for engaging in drug trafficking activity resulting in death.
Neeley was sentenced to 264 months imprisonment to be
followed by five years of supervised release. Neeley
appealed, and the Seventh Circuit upheld her convictions and
sentence. See United States v. Maggard, 865 F.3d 960
(7th Cir. 2017).
November 27, 2017, Neeley filed a motion for relief pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Neeley was later permitted to
supplement her § 2255 motion. The United States has
responded to the motion and the supplement.
challenges her conviction and sentence arguing that her
counsel was ineffective in a number of ways: (1) for failing
to investigate the death charged in Counts 1 and 6; (2)
failing to file a motion to sever; (3) failing to object to
the sentence enhancement; and (4) failing to file a separate
appeal. Ms. Neeley later supplemented her § 2255 motion
claiming that her Sixth Amendment right to confront her
codefendant was violated.
Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
first asserts that her counsel was deficient. 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). If a petitioner cannot establish one of the
Strickland prongs, the court need not consider the
other. Groves v. United States, 755 F.3d 588, 591
(7th Cir. 2014). 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.
Strickland, 466 U.S. at 690. To satisfy the
prejudice component, Neeley 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. Each of Neeley's specifications of ineffective
assistance is discussed below.