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United States v. Partman

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Columbia Division

February 9, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Respondent.
STANLEY D. PARTMAN, a/k/a Goat, Defendant-Petitioner.


          Joseph F. Anderson, Jr., United States District Judge


         Defendant Stanley D. Partman (“Partman” or “Petitioner”) has filed a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (“§ 2255”). (ECF No. 1073).

         Partman was charged in five counts. In Count 1, he was charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(A), and 846. (ECF No. 914 p. 1). In Count 2, Partman was charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(C). (ECF No. 914 p. 1). In Count 37, Partman was charged with using a telephone to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine and cocaine base, aiding and abetting, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 843(b) and 18 U.S.C. § 2. (ECF No. 914 p. 2). In Count 70, he was charged with possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). (ECF No. 914 p. 2). In Count 71, he was charged with using a telephone to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine and cocaine base, and aiding and abetting, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 843(b) and 18 U.S.C. § 2. (ECF No. 914 p. 2). A verdict of guilty as to Counts 1, 2, 3, 70, and 71 of the Amended Second Superseding Indictment (ECF No. 776) was returned on November 29, 2012. (ECF No. 914 p. 2).

         On October 18, 2012, this Court held jury selection for Partman's case. See (ECF Nos. 711-13). On November 15, Partman filed a motion to disqualify the jury panel because he entered the court in pants the detention center had issued to him.[1] (ECF No. 742). On November 16, the Government responded in opposition. (ECF No. 747). On November 26, 2012, this Court held an evidentiary hearing where it questioned each juror individually to determine whether any juror had noticed the clothing Partman was wearing at jury selection. See (ECF No. 779 p. 3). Of the fourteen (14) jurors questioned, only two (2) recalled that Partman had worn a “jumpsuit” or “correction-issued pants, ” and the Court excused these two jurors. (ECF No. 779 p. 3). On November 28, 2012, this Court denied Partman's Motion. (ECF No. 779). Thereafter, Partman proceeded to trial and was convicted on all Counts.

         On March 18, 2013, the United States Probation Office issued a final presentence investigation report (“PSR”) as to Partman. (ECF No. 914). The PSR noted that this Court could impose a “2-level enhancement for obstruction of justice based upon the defendant feigning incompetence, as well as his numerous attempts to disrupt trial proceedings.” (ECF No. 914 p. 27). The PSR stated that Partman's total offense level was 42; his criminal history was Category II; and his probation eligibility was “Prohibited.” (ECF No. 914-1 p. 1).

         The Court sentenced Partman to a total term of 396 months. He received 336 months for Count 1; he received 240 months for Count 2; he received 48 months each as to Counts 37 and 71, to run concurrently; and he received 60 months as to Count 70, to run consecutively to all other terms. (ECF No. 905 p. 2). Judgment was entered on March 15, 2013. (ECF No. 905). Partman subsequently filed a notice of appeal (ECF No. 908) on the same day. Partman appealed to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. See United States v. Partman, 568 F. App'x 205 (4th Cir. 2014). On appeal, Partman contended that “a new trial was required because his appearance in prison-issued clothing prejudiced the jury” and that acquittal was required because “there was insufficient evidence to support his 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) conviction.” Id. at 208. Partman also argued that “the sentencing enhancement was unwarranted because his noncompliance and in-court disruptions did not rise to the level of obstruction of justice.” Id. The Fourth Circuit, however, affirmed all of this Court's rulings. Id. at 213-14. Thereafter, Partman filed a petition for writ of certiorari, and the Supreme Court of the United States denied the Petition on November 17, 2014. Partman v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 690 (2014).

         On November 9, 2015, Partman filed the current motion to vacate, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. On May 31, 2016, Partman filed a supplemental §2255 motion (ECF No. 1141), and he filed another supplemental motion (ECF No. 1157) on August 1, 2016.


         Partman filed his original § 2255 motion on November 9, 2015. (ECF No. 1073). On December 14, 2015, the Government filed a motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 1092). Two days later, the Court sent Partman a Roseboro order. (ECF No. 1093). On January 25, 2016, Partman filed a response in opposition to the Government's Motion. (ECF No. 1107). That same day, Partman filed a motion to amend his original § 2255 motion. (ECF No. 1108). The Court granted Partman's Motion to Amend, which gave Partman “21 days from [the] order to file a new § 2255 petition containing an amendment to add an allegation.” (ECF No. 1139).

         On May 31, 2016, Partman filed his supplemental § 2255 petition. (ECF No. 1141). On June 29, 2016, Partman filed another motion, this time a motion for leave to file a § 2255 action raising a Johnson issue. (ECF No. 1151). On July 8, 2016, the Court issued an order granting Partman's Motion. (ECF No. 1152). The Order stated the following: “[a]ny supplements to the Johnson amendment must be filed within 21 days of this order.” Id. The Order also stated that “[n]o further amendments may be made to the defendant's claims filed with his original § 2255 petition.” Id.

         On August 1, 2016, Partman filed his second supplemental § 2255 petition. (ECF No. 1157). On September 20, 2016, the Government responded in opposition (ECF No. 1167) and filed another motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 1168). The Court sent Partman another Roseboro order on January 10, 2017. (ECF No. 1180). On February 8, 2017, Partman responded in opposition to the Government's Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 1182).

         For the reasons below, the Petitioner's § 2255 Motion is denied, and the Government's Motion for Summary Judgement is granted.


         A. 28 U.S.C. § 2255

         Prisoners in federal custody may attack the validity of their sentences pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. In order to move the court to vacate, set aside, or correct a sentence under § 2255, a defendant/petitioner must prove that one of the following occurred: (1) a sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States; (2) the court was without jurisdiction to impose such a sentence; (3) the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law; or (4) the sentence is otherwise subject to collateral attack. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a).

         B. Summary Judgment

         Summary judgment “should be rendered if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(2). The movant has the burden of proving that summary judgment is appropriate. Once the movant makes the showing, however, the opposing party must respond to the Motion with “specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(2).

         When no genuine issue of any material fact exists, summary judgment is appropriate. See Shealy v. Winston, 929 F.2d 1009, 1011 (4th Cir. 1991). In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the facts and inferences to be drawn from the evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Id. However, “the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986).

         “[O]nce the moving party has met [its] burden, the nonmoving party must come forward with some evidence beyond the mere allegations contained in the pleadings to show that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Baber v. Hospital Corp. of Am., 977 F.2d 872, 874-75 (4th Cir. 1992). The nonmoving party may not rely on beliefs, conjecture, speculation, or conclusory allegations to defeat a motion for summary judgment. See Id. Rather, the nonmoving party is required to submit evidence of specific facts by way of affidavits, depositions, interrogatories, or admissions to demonstrate the existence of a genuine and material factual issue for trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).


         A. Partman's Original § 2255 Petition

         1. Claim of Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

         Partman contends that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. (ECF No. 1073-1 p. 1). The Sixth Amendment right to counsel is “the right to the effective assistance of counsel.” McMann v. Richardson, 397 U.S. 759, 771 n.14 (1970). To successfully challenge a sentence on the basis of ineffective assistance of counsel, the Defendant must demonstrate (1) that his counsel's performance fell below an objective standard of reasonableness; and (2) that he was prejudiced by his counsel's deficient performance. See Sharpe v. Bell, 593 F.3d 372, 382 (4th Cir. 2010); Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687 (1984). With respect to the first prong, there is “a strong presumption that counsel's conduct falls within the wide range of reasonable professional assistance.” Strickland, 466 U.S. at 689. A reviewing court must be highly deferential in scrutinizing counsel's performance and must filter from its analysis the distorting effects of hindsight. Id. at 688-89.

         In addition to showing ineffective representation, the Defendant must also show “that there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different. A reasonable probability is a probability sufficient to undermine confidence in the outcome.” Id. at 694. “The likelihood of a different result must be substantial, not just conceivable.” Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 112 (2011) (citing Strickland, 466 U.S. at 693).

         Defendant alleges six (6) different grounds for his claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. See (ECF No. 1073-1). Each is addressed below, and each is without merit.

         a. Partman's Clothing at Jury Selection

         Partman alleges that he suffered prejudice because the jurors saw him dressed in detention-center pants at jury selection. Specifically, he states that “[c]ounsel's failure to object to the obvious prison attire and request a change of clothes fell below a professional standard of reasonableness.” (ECF No. 1073-1 p. 3).

         “Courts have, with few exceptions, determined that an accused should not be compelled to go to trial in prison or jail clothing because of the possible impairment of the presumption so basic to the adversary system.” Estelle v. Williams, 425 U.S. 501, 505 (1976). Thus, in some cases, “[t]he physical appearance of a defendant while in the presence of the jury may adversely affect the presumption of innocence.” Chavez v. Cockrell, 310 F.3d 805, 808 (5th Cir. 2002) (citing Estelle, 425 U.S. at 504).

         A defendant, however, does not suffer actual prejudice simply because jurors see him or her in prison attire. See United States v. Jackson, 423 F. App'x 329, 331 (4th Cir. 2011) (finding that a defendant was not prejudiced when members of the jury observed defendant wearing a “jail jumpsuit and shackles”); United States v. Lattner, 385 F.3d 947, 959 (6th Cir. 2004) (finding that defendant was not prejudiced where jurors briefly observed defendant in handcuffs); United States v. Halliburton, 870 F.2d 557 (9th Cir. 1989) (finding no prejudice where jurors briefly and inadvertently observed defendant in handcuffs outside the courtroom). “There must be a showing . . . that the defendant suffered actual prejudice as a result of such knowledge.” United States v. Leon, 33 F. App'x 690, 691 (4th Cir. 2002).

         “Actual prejudice is shown if the defendant can establish an unreliable or fundamentally unfair outcome to his proceeding.” Leon, 33 F. App'x at 691 (citing United States v. Squillacote, 221 F.3d 542, 575 (4th Cir. 2000), cert. denied, 532 U.S. 971 (2001)). The “most certain method” for determining whether actual prejudice resulted from jurors' observations is to “conduct a voir dire” of the jurors. See Halliburton, 870 F.2d at 561; Chavez v. Cockrell, 310 F.3d 805, 809 (5th Cir. 2002) (finding no prejudice where defendant was startled by the inadvertent activation of his stun belt in the presence of the jury and where the trial judge subsequently interviewed each individual juror and determined jurors could remain fair and impartial); United States v. Pina, 844 F.2d 1, 8 (1st Cir. 1988) (finding jurors' observation of defendant wearing handcuffs did not result in actual prejudice where judge subsequently questioned jurors and jurors insisted they could remain impartial). If a juror would not “recognize the clothing as issued by a jail, ” then there is no prejudice. See United States v. Leonesio, No. 88-1276, 1990 WL 95397, at *2 (9th Cir. Jul. 11, 1990) (citing Jeffers v. Ricketts, 832 F.2d 476, 481 (9th Cir. 1987)).

         Here, Partman appeared for jury selection in an untucked button-down shirt and red pants; the red pants were issued by a detention facility.[2] (ECF No. 779). Partman's pants were not exposed to the jury. Id. While Partman was seated at the counsel's table in the courtroom, “members of the jury panel would not have been able to observe [Partman's] lower body and red pants.” Id. at 2. Although Partman once attempted to stand, he was quickly seated. Id. at 3.

         In the Court's Order denying Partman's attempt to disqualify the jury, the Court stated the following:

On the day of trial, and before trial began, this Court brought each juror (including both alternates) separately into the courtroom. This Court then asked each juror whether he or she remembered anything about [Partman's] attire on the day in question. Of the fourteen jurors questioned, only two recalled that [Partman] wore a “jumpsuit” or “correction-issued pants.” The Court excused these jurors from service as a result. Notably, nine jurors had no recollection of [Partman's] attire that day, two remembered his shirt, and one asked whether [Partman] was wearing “something orange.” Thus, in other words, the twelve jurors which served in this case did not recall that [Partman] was wearing red, prison-issued pants. The Court ...

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