United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
L. Miller, Jr. Judge
Baldwin, Jr. was selling methamphetamine out of a motel room,
with two loaded firearms. He pleaded guilty to possession of
firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and
unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon, in violation of
18 U.S.C. §§ 924(c) and 922(g)(1) 2113(d), and was
sentenced to an aggregate term of imprisonment of 117 months.
Mr. Baldwin filed a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct
his conviction and sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255,
contending that he “could have gotten a better [plea]
deal” and a lower sentence but for trial counsel's
ineffective assistance. That motion and Mr. Baldwin's
motions to appoint counsel, to amend his petition to add a
new claim, and to compel production of various documents are
before the court. For the reasons that follow, the court
denies those motions.
rules governing petitions filed under 28 U.S.C. § 2255
provide that once a motion is filed:
The motion, together with all the files, records,
transcripts, and correspondence relating to the judgment
under attack, shall be examined promptly by the judge to whom
it is assigned. If it plainly appears from the face of the
motion and any annexed exhibits and the prior proceedings in
the case that the movant is not entitled to relief in the
district court, the judge shall make an order for its summary
dismissal and cause the movant to be notified.
Rule 4(b) of the Rules Governing Section 2255 Proceedings.
The court has reviewed Mr. Baldwin's motion and
supporting memorandum and finds that his arguments, while
adequately presented, aren't supported by the facts or
the law in this case and can be resolved without a hearing.
See Martin v. United States, 789 F.3d 703, 706 (7th
Cir. 2015) (evidentiary hearing not required if “the
motion and the files and records of the case conclusively
show that the prisoner is entitled to no relief” or
petitioner's allegations are “vague, conclusory, or
palpably incredible”); Kafo v. United States,
467 F.3d 1063, 1067 (7th Cir. 2006); Bruce v. United
States, 256 F.3d 592, 597 (7th Cir. 2001). Appointment
of counsel isn't required under Rule 8(c) of the Rules
Governing Section 2255 Proceedings or warranted in the
interest of justice under 18 U.S.C. § 3006A(2)(B).
See Rauter v. United States, 871 F.2d 693, 695-696
(7th Cir. 1989).
ineffective assistance of counsel claim may be brought in a
collateral proceeding under § 2255, whether or not the
petitioner could have raised the claim on direct
appeal.” Massaro v. United States, 538 U.S.
500, 504 (2003). Judicial scrutiny of an attorney's
performance is “highly deferential, ” and the
“court must indulge a strong presumption that
counsel's conduct falls within the wide range of
reasonable professional judgment.” Jones v.
Page, 76 F.3d 831, 840 (7th Cir. 1996) (quoting
Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 689 (1984)).
To overcome that presumption, Mr. Baldwin must show that
counsel's representation was so deficient that it
“fell below an objective standard of reasonableness,
” and that it prejudiced his defense, rendering the
outcome of the proceedings against him unreliable.
Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687-88, 694
(1984); Taylor v. Bradley, 448 F.3d 942, 948 (7th
Cir. 2006); United States v. Bradford, 78 F.3d 1216,
1225 (7th Cir. 1996). He hasn't done that.
Baldwin contends that trial counsel was ineffective because
he: (1) failed to move to suppress evidence obtained from the
warrantless search of his truck, (2) advised him to plead to
possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking
crime (Count 1), without requiring the Government prove the
underlying drug trafficking offense beyond a reasonable doubt
(Count 2, which was dismissed at sentencing per the plea
agreement), and (3) failed to object at sentencing to the
assessment of two criminal history points for his 2008
conviction and sentence for driving on a suspended license,
which resulted in a sentence of 11 months and 29 days.
Failure to File Motion to Suppress
a claim of ineffective assistance is premised on an
attorney's failure to file a motion to suppress, the
defendant must prove that the motion would have been
meritorious, ” and that he wouldn't have been
convicted but for counsel's error. United States v.
Cieslowski, 410 F.3d 353, 360 (7th Cir.2005)). The
defendant bears the burden of establishing that the search
was illegal. Rawlings v.. Kentucky, 448 U.S. 98, 104
(1980); United States v. Longmire, 761 F.2d 411, 417
Baldwin contends that officers didn't have a warrant when
they “unlawfully searched” his vehicle (a white
pickup truck, that had been reported stolen and had plates
that were registered to another vehicle), that he asked Mr.
Boyles to file a motion to suppress the gun and drugs found
in the truck, but he didn't comply, and that,
“[w]ithout said physical evidence (in the event it was
excluded) petitioner could have negotiated a much more
beneficial contract with the Government, should he had chosen
to do so.” [Doc. No. 35 at p. 1].
prevail on his ineffective assistance claim, Mr. Baldwin must
show that a motion to suppress would have been granted.
United States v. Cieslowski, 410 F.3d 353, 360 (7th
Cir. 2005). He hasn't done that. Mr. Baldwin doesn't
dispute that the truck was stolen, and he doesn't have
standing to challenge the search of a stolen truck. See
Byrd v. United States, 138 S.Ct. 1518, 1529 (May 14,
2018). A motion to suppress would have been futile under the
circumstances, and Mr. Boyles had “no duty to make a
frivolous argument.” Unites States v. Rezin,
322 F.3d 443, 446 (7th Cir. 2003), overruled on other
grounds by Lockhart v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 958
(2016); United States v. Hanley, 906 F.2d 1116, 1121
(6th Cir. 1990) (holding that a defendant can't establish
ineffective assistance if counsel decided “not to
pursue suppression motions that would have likely been
documents Mr. Baldwin seeks in his discovery request (notes
taken by his attorney between October and December 2017 and
logs, photographs, audio/video recordings and police reports
made before, during, and/or after the search) can't cure
the legal deficiencies in his argument, so the court denies
the request [Doc. No. 43]. See Bracy v. Gramley, 520
U.S. 899, 904, 908-909 (1997) (habeas petitioners “not
entitled to discovery as a matter of ordinary course”
and must show good cause - specific allegations which give
the court “reason to believe that the petitioner may,
if the facts are fully developed, be able to demonstrate that
he is...entitled to relief.”); Matta-Ballesteros v.
Henman, 896 F.2d 255, 259 (7th Cir. 1990) (“Good
cause cannot exist where the facts alleged do not provide a
basis for relief.”); Rule 6(a) of the Rules Governing
Section 2255 Proceedings (“A judge may, for good cause,
authorize a party to conduct discovery under the Federal
rules of Criminal Procedure or Civil Procedure, or in
accordance with the practices and principles of law.”).
court also denies Mr. Baldwin's motion to amend his
petition to add a new claim challenging the search of his
motel room and Mr. Boyles's failure to file a motion to
suppress evidence recovered from his room [Doc. No. 56].
Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a) provides that leave to amend should be
granted freely, but only “when justice so
requires”. “Justice generally does not requires
such leave if a movant demonstrates ‘undue delay, bad
faith, or dilatory motive.'” Vitrano v. United
States, 643 F.3d 229, (7th Cir. 2011) (quoting
Airborne Beepers & Video, Inc. v. AT&T Mobility,
LLC, 449 F.3d 663, 666 (7th Cir. 2007); see also
Rutlege v. United States, 230 F.3d 1041, 1051 (7th Cir.
2000) (“A district court can refuse to let the
defendant amend the petition for reasons such as
Baldwin challenged the protective sweep of his motel room and
Mr. Boyles's failure to move to suppress evidence taken
from the room for the first time in his motion to amend,
after the Government filed its response to his original
motion challenging the search of the truck. The motion to
amend was filed more than one year after the judgment became
final, asserts new facts and new arguments that weren't
raised in his original ...