United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division
L. Wooten Chief United States District Judge
matter comes before the Court for consideration of the pro se
petition to vacate, set aside, or correct a sentence pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 filed by Petitioner David Stuckey.
For the reasons stated below, the Court dismisses the
Factual and Procedural History
was indicted in a twelve-defendant, nineteen-count Indictment
filed on March 22, 2011. ECF No. 3. The indictment charged
him with conspiring to possess with intent to distribute and
to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine and 280 grams or
more of crack cocaine. Attorney Scott Joye was appointed to
defend him. ECF No. 154.
September 9, 2011, Petitioner filed a pro se motion
requesting new counsel, which was referred to a magistrate
judge for resolution. ECF No. 388. After holding an in
camera hearing, the magistrate judge terminated Mr.
Joye’s representation and appointed Attorney Nathaniel
Roberson. ECF Nos. 397, 401, 403.
November 2, 2011, Mr. Roberson filed a motion seeking a
mental health evaluation of Petitioner. ECF No. 447. In the
motion, Mr. Roberson asserted that Petitioner’s
“memory, recall, attention and basic understanding is
suspect and at times is unexplainable, ” and also noted
that he “had an automobile accident in 1994 or 1995 and
had head and face reconstruction surgery.” Id.
at 1. The Court granted the motion. ECF No. 452. The
evaluation report noted that he had “limited cognitive
ability and minor memory deficits, ” but that these
impairments “do not appear to interfere substantially
with his ability to proceed with his defense.” ECF No.
577 at 11. The report concluded that “[i]t is the
opinion of this evaluator, with a reasonable degree of
psychological certainty, [Petitioner] has a rational and
factual understanding of the proceedings against him, and he
is capable of assisting counsel with his defense.”
Id. at 12.
the completion of Petitioner’s mental health
evaluation, the Court held a pretrial conference on March 22,
2012 and set the case for jury selection on May 14, 2012. ECF
March 30, 2012, Mr. Roberson filed a motion to withdraw as
counsel, asserting that “the relationship has reached
an impasse, it is adversarial, it is counterproductive and
the best avenue for the protection of the defendant's
constitutional rights cannot be afforded him under these
circumstances and conditions.” ECF No. 597. The Court
held an extensive hearing on the motion and concluded that
the circumstances did not require the appointment of new
counsel for Petitioner, and the Court therefore denied the
motion to withdraw. ECF No. 599.
Government then filed an Information pursuant to 21 U.S.C.
§ 851, notifying Petitioner that it intended to rely on
five prior felony drug convictions to enhance his statutory
sentence to mandatory life imprisonment from the 10 years to
life imprisonment range that would have applied absent the
enhancement. ECF No. 600.
Court held jury selection on the morning of May 14, 2012. In
the early evening that day, after the jury had been empaneled
and pretrial motions argued, Petitioner notified the Court
that he intended to plead guilty pursuant to a plea
agreement. In exchange for a guilty plea to the drug
conspiracy count, the Government agreed to withdraw all but
one of the § 851 enhancements, resulting in a statutory
sentencing range of 20 years to life imprisonment. After a
thorough Rule 11 colloquy, the Court accepted his guilty
plea. ECF No. 629.
Petitioner’s plea, the U.S. Probation Office prepared
an initial Presentence Investigation Report (“Initial
PSR”), ECF No. 685, in which Probation concluded that
he should be held accountable for 1, 192.2 grams of crack
cocaine and 1 ounce of cocaine, resulting in a base offense
level of 34. Initial PSR ¶ 66. Probation also concluded
that he should receive a two-level firearm enhancement and
that he should not receive a two-level reduction for
acceptance of responsibility as a result of his denial of the
relevant conduct in the case. Id. ¶¶ 67,
73. Additionally, Probation concluded that he was a career
offender based on several prior felony drug convictions.
Id. ¶ 72. As a result, his total offense level
was 37. Id. ¶ 75. His prior criminal record,
through a standard calculation of criminal history points,
resulted in a criminal history category of III, but because
he was classified as a career offender, his criminal history
category became VI. Id. ¶¶ 53-54. As a
result, his advisory guideline range was 360 months to life
imprisonment. Id. ¶ 104. Had he not been
classified as a career offender, his guideline range would
have been 235 to 295 months (TOL 36; CHC III). See
Id. ¶¶ 53, 71.
9, 2012, two months after his guilty plea, Petitioner filed a
pro se motion to withdraw his plea, asserting that he wanted
a trial. ECF No. 683. The Court denied the motion after a
hearing. ECF No. 715.
days after the hearing, Petitioner filed another pro se
motion, this time seeking to dismiss the Indictment based on
asserted due process violations. ECF No. 724.
was originally scheduled for September 19, 2012. At the
sentencing hearing, the Court first denied his motion to
dismiss the Indictment, ECF No. 724. Then, during the
Court’s discussion of the guideline calculations, an
issue arose regarding his career offender predicate offenses.
At that point, the Court continued the sentencing hearing to
allow for that issue to be resolved and for a revised PSR to
be prepared. ECF No. 733.
revised PSR, ECF No. 750, held him accountable for the same
drug weight, applied the same firearm enhancement, again
denied acceptance of responsibility, and again classified him
as a career offender. Revised PSR ¶¶ 66-67, 72-73.
Thus, his guideline range remained 360 months to life
imprisonment. Id. ¶ 104.
Court reconvened the sentencing hearing on December 4, 2012.
ECF No. 759. At the hearing, Petitioner objected to his 1994
drug convictions being counted as a career offender
predicate. However, after taking testimony and hearing
extensive arguments from counsel and Petitioner, the Court
concluded that these convictions counted as a career offender
predicate and that he was therefore properly classified as a
career offender. The Court ultimately sentenced him at the
bottom of the advisory guideline range-360 months
imprisonment. ECF No. 767.
filed a direct appeal. Before the Fourth Circuit, Mr.
Roberson moved to withdraw as appellate counsel. The Fourth
Circuit granted his motion and appointed Attorney Nicole
Mace, who argued that this Court erred in refusing to allow
him to withdraw his guilty plea and in denying Mr.
Roberson’s prior motion to withdraw. The Fourth Circuit
affirmed, finding no error on either ground. United
States v. Stuckey, 540 F. App’x 198, 199-200 (4th
the Fourth Circuit affirmed Petitioner’s conviction and
sentence, Ms. Mace filed a motion to withdraw as counsel on
the grounds that a certiorari petition to the Supreme Court
would be frivolous. The Fourth Circuit granted her motion to
withdraw. He then filed a pro se petition for writ of
certiorari, which the Supreme Court denied on January 27,
2014. Stuckey v. United States, 134 S.Ct. 1047
timely filed this § 2255 petition on April 16, 2014,
asserting that Mr. Roberson and Ms. Mace provided ineffective
assistance of counsel. ECF No. 882 at 3, 6. He also asserted
that his sentence was imposed in ...