United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division
Bryan Harwell, United States District Judge.
matter is before the Court on Petitioner Roselyn
Goodrum's (“Petitioner”) pro se [ECF
No. 258] motion to vacate, set aside, or correct sentence
(“motion to vacate”) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
2255. Also pending is the government's [ECF No. 276]
motion to dismiss Petitioner's motion to vacate. For the
reasons stated below, the Court grants Respondent's
motion to dismiss, dismisses Petitioner's motion to
vacate, and dismisses this case with prejudice
History and Factual Background
was indicted on March 1, 2016, in a one count indictment for
conspiracy to defraud Federal farm assistance programs in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371. [ECF No. 2]. A superseding
indictment, which added an obstruction of justice count
against Petitioner, was filed on August 2, 2016. [ECF No.
August 26, 2016, Petitioner signed a plea agreement wherein
she agreed to plead guilty to count one of the superseding
indictment. [ECF Nos. 165, 167]. Petitioner entered her
guilty plea on September 1, 2016. [ECF No. 168]. Petitioner
was represented by Kirk Truslow, Esq. through her guilty
presentence investigation report (“PSR”) dated
November 10, 2016, and revised on December 21, 2016, was
prepared by the U.S. Probation Office. The PSR found that
Petitioner's advisory guideline range was 27 to 33
months, based on a total offense level of 18 and criminal
history category of I.
November 16, 2016, Petitioner filed a pro se motion to
withdraw her guilty plea. [ECF No. 206]. Petitioner filed an
amended pro se motion to withdraw her guilty plea [ECF No.
224] and a pro se motion for new counsel [ECF No. 226] on
December 7, 2016.
December 20, 2016, U.S. Magistrate Judge Kaymani D. West
granted Petitioner's motion for new counsel and appointed
FitzLee McEachin, Esq. to represent Petitioner through the
remainder of the case.
February 9, 2017, the Court denied Petitioner's motions
to withdraw her guilty plea. [ECF No. 249]. After denying her
motions to withdraw her guilty plea, the Court sentenced
Petitioner to a 27 month term of imprisonment as to count
one. [ECF No. 252]. Petitioner was also placed on supervised
release for 3 years and ordered to pay restitution in the
amount of $146, 401.00. Judgment was entered on February 17,
2017. [ECF No. 252]. Petitioner did not file a direct appeal.
filed the instant pro se motion to vacate pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2255 on March 10, 2017. [ECF No. 258]. The
government filed a response to Petitioner's motion to
vacate and a motion to dismiss on March 30,
2017. [ECF No. 276].
retained counsel for the sole purpose of filing a motion for
bond pending review and a motion to delay her reporting date.
[ECF Nos. 266, 267]. The Court denied Petitioner's motion
for bond and motion to delay her reporting date on March 21,
2017. [ECF No. 271].
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 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). Nonconstitutional claims may be
brought pursuant to § 2255, but will not provide a basis
for collateral attack unless the error involves a
“fundamental defect which inherently results in a
complete miscarriage of justice.” United States v.
Addonizio, 442 U.S. 178, 185, 99 S.Ct., 2235, 2240
(1979); United States v. Morrow, 914 F.2d 608, 613
(4th Cir. 1990).
petitioner cannot ordinarily bring a collateral attack on the
basis of issues litigated on direct appeal. United States
v. Dyess, 730 F.3d 354, 360 (4th Cir. 2013) (stating
petitioner “cannot ‘circumvent a proper ruling .
. . on direct appeal by re-raising the same challenge in a
§ 2255 motion'”); United States v.
Linder, 552 F.3d 391, 396 (4th Cir. 2009);
Boeckenhaupt v. United States, 537 F.2d 1182, 1183 (4th
Cir.), cert denied, 429 U.S. 863, 97 S.Ct. 169 (1976). An
exception occurs where there has been an intervening change
in the law. Davis v. United States, 417 U.S. 333,
342, 94 S.Ct. 2298, 2302 (1974). Additionally, where a
defendant could have raised a claim on direct appeal but
fails to do so, the claim may only be raised in a federal
habeas proceeding if the defendant can show both cause for
and actual prejudice from the default, see Murray v.
Carrier, 477 U.S. 478, 485, 106 S.Ct. 2639, 91 L.Ed.2d
397 (1986), or that she is actually innocent, see Smith
v. Murray, 477 U.S. 527, 537, 106 S.Ct. 2661, 91 L.Ed.2d
deciding a motion to vacate, the court may summarily dismiss
the motion “[i]f it plainly appears from the motion,
any attached exhibits, and the record of prior proceedings
that the moving party is not entitled to relief.” Rules
Governing Section 2255 Proceedings 4(b); see 28
U.S.C. § 2255(b) (a hearing is not required on a §
2255 motion if the record of the case conclusively shows that
petitioner is entitled to no relief). An evidentiary hearing
“is required when a movant presents a colorable [ ]
claim showing disputed material facts and a credibility
determination is necessary to resolve the issue.”
United States v. Coon, 205 Fed.Appx. 972, 973 (4th
Cir. 2006) (citing United States v. Witherspoon, 231
F.3d 923, 925-27 (4th Cir. 2000)). However, a hearing is not
required unless the claim shows “disputed facts
involving inconsistencies beyond the record.”
United States v. Robinson, 238 Fed.Appx. 954, 955
(4th Cir. 2007). Conclusory allegations contained within
affidavits do not require a hearing. Strong v.
Johnson, 495 F.3d 134, 139-40 (4th Cir. 2007).
“Thus, no hearing is required if the petitioner's
allegations ‘cannot be accepted as true because they
are contradicted by the record, inherently incredible, or
conclusions rather than statement of fact.' ”
Arredondo v. United States, 178 F.3d 778, 782 (6th
Cir. 1999) (quoting Engelen v. United States, 68
F.3d 238, 240 (8th Cir. 1995)).
motion to vacate alleges ineffective assistance of counsel.
Claims of ineffective assistance of counsel are
constitutional in nature and therefore are properly asserted
under § 2255. The Sixth Amendment provides: “In
all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right
. . . to have the assistance of counsel for his
defense.” U.S. Constitution. amend VI. The United
States Supreme Court has interpreted the Sixth Amendment to
require that counsel be effective. Strickland v.
Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 686, (1984) (quoting
McMann v. Richardson, 397 U.S. 759, 771, n.14
(1970)). In order to prevail on an ineffective assistance
claim, petitioner must satisfy the two-prong test of
Strickland that (1) his “counsel's
representation fell below an objective standard of
reasonableness, ” id. at 688; and (2) that
“there is a reasonable probability that, but for
counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the
proceeding would have been different.” Id. at
694. A reasonable probability is a probability sufficient to
undermine confidence in the outcome. Id. In the
context of a guilty plea, Petitioner must show "that
there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's
errors, she would not have pleaded guilty and would have
insisted on going to trial. Hill v. Lockhart, 474
U.S. 52, 59 (1985).
applying the Strickland test may apply either prong
first and does not need to analyze both prongs of the test if
petitioner makes “an insufficient showing on
one.” Id. at 697.
examining the performance of counsel, there is “a
strong presumption that counsel's conduct falls within
the wide range of reasonable professional assistance . . .
.” Id. 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.
“deficient performance, ” a court must defer to
counsel's tactical decisions and give counsel the benefit
of a strong presumption of reasonableness. See Id.
at 689. While an attorney has a duty to investigate
reasonable claims and defenses, an attorney's performance
cannot be deemed ineffective or deficient if he fails to
raise a defense which is “very weak”. Smith
v. State of South Carolina, 882 F.2d 895, 898 (4th Cir.
1989); Sistrunk v. Vaughn, 96 F.3d 666, 671 (3rd
Cir. 1996). A habeas petitioner alleging prejudice must show
“that counsel's errors were so serious as to
deprive the defendant of a fair trial, a trial whose result
is reliable.” Strickland, 466 U.S. at 687.
That the outcome may have been different but for
counsel's error is not dispositive of the
“prejudice” inquiry. Rather, a court must
determine whether the result of the proceeding was