United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR RELIEF PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255 AND DENYING CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY
WALTON PRATT, JUDGE
matter is before the Court on a Motion to Vacate, Set Aside
or Correct a Sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 filed
by Petitioner Jefferson D. Smith (“Smith”). For
the reasons explained in this Order, the motion is
DENIED and dismissed with prejudice. In
addition, the Court finds that a certificate of appealability
should not issue.
SECTION 2255 MOTION STANDARDS
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). “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
9, 2017, Smith was charged in this Court in a two-count
Information with: knowingly coercing or enticing a minor, in
violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2422(b) and 2260(A),
(Count One: Coercion or Enticement of a Minor); and,
attempted receipt of visual depictions of a minor engaged in
sexually explicit conduct, in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§§ 2252(a)(2) and (b)(1), (Count Two: Attempted
Receipt of Visual Depictions of a Minor Engaged in Sexually
Explicit Conduct). Crim. Dkt. 24. The Information contained a
Special Allegation that charged Smith with penalties because
he committed the offenses while registered as a sex offender.
See 18 U.S.C. § 2260A; Crim. Dkt. 24. Federal
Public Defender, Joseph Cleary, was appointed to represent
Smith. Crim. Dkt. 8.
9, 2017, Smith filed a petition to enter a plea of guilty and
plea agreement was filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal
Procedure 11(c)(1)(B). Crim. Dkt. 30. In the plea agreement,
Smith agreed to plead guilty to all the crimes charged in the
Information and the Special Allegation. Id. at 1-2.
In addition, he stipulated to the facts supporting his plea
of guilty, waived his right to file a direct appeal and,
other than claims of ineffective assistance of counsel,
waived his right to challenge his conviction or sentence in a
post-conviction motion. Id. at 10, 13, 18-19. Smith
stated that he understood that he was facing a possible life
sentence on Count One alone. Id. at 2. However,
under the terms of the plea agreement, the United States
stipulated that it would recommend a sentence of 444
months' imprisonment and that the minimum sentence Smith
could receive was 240 months' imprisonment. Id.
at 6. The parties acknowledged that while they were bound by
the recommendations, the Court was not, and that the Court
could use its discretion to fashion a sentence “higher
or lower than any recommendation of either party.”
Id. at 4-5.
declared that: he had read the entire plea agreement and
discussed it with his attorney; he understood the terms of
the plea agreement; no person had made any promises to him
that he would receive a lighter sentence if he would plead
guilty except as provided in the agreement; and that, he
makes no claim of innocence and was entering the agreement
freely and voluntarily because he is guilty. Id. at
20-22. He further asserted that: his attorney informed,
counseled, and advised him as to the nature and cause of
every accusation against him and to any possible defenses; he
was satisfied with his attorney's representation during
all phases of his case; and his attorney had done all that he
could to counsel and assist him. Id.
certified that he had read and fully explained to Smith
“all the accusations against [Smith].”
Id. at 23. Counsel also stated that Smith's plea
of guilty “accords with [his] understanding of the
facts as related to [him] by [Smith] and is consistent with
[his] advice to [Smith].” Id.
exchange for Smith's plea of guilty, the United States
agreed to a dismiss a charge of possessing visual depictions
of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct, in violation
of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2252(a)(4)(b) and (b)(2), that was
charged in an earlier criminal complaint. Crim. Dkt. 2. The
United States also agreed to charge Smith with coercion or
enticement rather than sexual exploitation of a minor which
would have subjected Smith to a mandatory life sentence if
found guilty. Crim. Dkt. 55 at 70. The United States also
agreed to recommend a sentence of 444 months, instead of the
maximum life sentence as provided for in § 2422(b).
Crim. Dkt. 30 at 2, 6.
combined plea and sentencing hearing occurred on September 5,
2017. At the hearing, Smith again verified that he had
discussed the charges against him with his attorney. Crim.
Dkt. 55 at 6. He affirmed that he had read the plea agreement
and discussed it with his attorney and felt he understood the
terms of the agreement. Id. at 9-10. He confirmed
that no one had forced him or made any threats to get him to
plead guilty, and that he was pleading guilty of his own free
will because he was guilty. Id. at 9-10. He
acknowledged that he understood that the Court was not bound
by the recommendations of the parties and that the Court
could “impose a sentence either higher or lower than
any recommendation that [Smith or trial counsel] make, or
… that [the prosecution] makes.” Id. at
the plea colloquy, and based on Smith's acknowledgments
of understanding, the Court accepted Smith's plea of
guilty. The Court specifically found that Smith was entering
his plea knowingly and voluntarily and that his plea was
supported by an independent factual basis that contains each
of the essential elements of the offenses. Id. at
35-36. And during the sentencing portion of the combined
hearing, Smith apologized to the victims and their families
and stated, “There is no one to blame for this but
myself. I did this, and I take full responsibility for the
crimes I plead to today.” Crim. Dkt. 55 at 52.
Court determined that under the advisory Sentencing
Guidelines, Smith's guideline range was 235 to 293
months' imprisonment plus 120 months for the special
allegation, which was required to be served consecutively.
Id. at 39-40. In keeping with the terms of the plea
agreement, the Court sentenced Smith to 288 months'
imprisonment on Counts One and Two to be served concurrently,
and 120 months on the special allegation, to be served
consecutively, for an aggregated total of 408 months'
imprisonment. Id. at 73-74; Crim. Dkt. 50.
was entered on September 14, 2017. Crim. Dkt. 50. Smith did
not appeal his conviction and sentence.
September 4, 2018, Smith filed the pending motion to vacate,
set aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255 alleging ineffective assistance of counsel. Dkt.
1. The United States filed a response. Dkt. 11. Smith did not
file a reply, and the time to do so has passed.