United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ENTRY DENYING MOTION FOR RELIEF PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255 AND DENYING CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY
WALTON PRATT, JUDGE United States District Court
matter is before the Court on pro se Defendant Pierre
Burnett's (“Burnett”) motion for relief
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. For the reasons set forth
below, the Motion must be denied and the action dismissed
with prejudice. In addition, the Court finds that a
certificate of appealability should not issue.
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
March 8, 2016, Burnett was charged in this Court in a
four-count Indictment with Count 1 - Conspiracy (to
distribute one kilogram or more of heroin and 500 grams or
more of cocaine), in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§
841(a)(1), (b)(1)(A)(i), (b)(1)(B)(ii), and 846; Count 2 -
Distribution of Heroin, in violation of 21 U.S.C.
§§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(A)(i); Count 3 -
Distribution of Cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C.
§§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(B)(ii); and Count 4 -
Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering, in violation of 18
U.S.C. § 1956(a)(1)(B)(i) and (h) (Count 4). United
States v. Burnett, 1:16-cr-45-TWP-DKL-1.
April 14, 2017, a Petition to Enter Plea of Guilty and Plea
Agreement (with stipulated factual basis included) pursuant
to Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1)(C) was filed
wherein Burnett agreed to a term of imprisonment of 188
months. (Cr. Dkt. 43.) Burnett agreed to plead guilty to
Counts 1 through 4 of the Indictment. Id. He waived
the right to appeal the conviction and sentence imposed and
waived the right to any collateral attacks on his conviction
or sentence with the exception of ineffective assistance of
counsel as long as he was sentenced pursuant to the plea
August 1, 2017, the Court accepted Burnett's plea
agreement, finding that the plea of guilty was knowing and
voluntary, and supported by an independent basis of fact.
(Cr. Dkt. 59.) At the plea and sentencing hearing, Burnett
confirmed the factual basis for the plea. (Cr. Dkt. 65.) The
Court accepted the terms of the plea agreement and sentenced
Burnett to 188 months' imprisonment to be followed by
five years' supervised release. (Cr. Dkt. 59.) No.
objections were presented by either party. Burnett did not
then filed this § 2255 motion arguing that his trial
counsel was ineffective. The respondent responded to the
Motion and Burnett replied. The Court directed further
briefing on one of Burnett's arguments and the motion is
now ripe for resolution.
asserts that his counsel was ineffective in negotiating the
plea agreement by failing to challenge the charges against
him and for advising him that he might be subject to a
sentence enhancement. During plea negotiations, defendants
are “entitled to the effective assistance of competent
counsel.” Lafler v. Cooper, 566 U.S. 166, 162
(2012). Thus, “the two-part Strickland v. Washington
test applies to challenges to guilty pleas based on
ineffective assistance of counsel.” Id. at
162-63. (quoting Hill v. Lockhart, 474 U.S. 52, 58
(1985). Under Strickland, Burnett must show that
“counsel's representation fell below an objective
standard of reasonableness.” Id. at 163
(quoting Hill v. Lockhart, 474 U.S. 52, 57 (1985)).
To establish prejudice, he must show the outcome of the plea
process would have been different with competent advice.
Lafler, 566 U.S. at 163. 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).
Quantity and Money Laundering
argues that his counsel was ineffective during plea
negotiations when he did not investigate the quantity of
drugs for which he was indicted and did not investigate the
Government's allegation that he engaged in money
laundering. (Dkt. 1, p. 5, 8.) He also argues that he did not
participate in a conspiracy, did not possess or distribute a
kilogram of heroin or 500 grams of cocaine, and did not
launder any money. Id., p. 6, 8.
arguments are “belied by his own statements at the
change of plea hearing, which are presumed truthful.”
Bridgeman v. United States,229 F.3d 589, 592 (7th
Cir. 2000); see Hurlow v. United States, 726 F.3d
958, 968 (7th Cir. 2013) (“[R]epresentations made to a
court during a plea ...