United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division
OPINION AND ORDER
HOWE HENDRICKS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court upon Movant Thomas Braford
Waters' (“Waters”) motion to vacate, set
aside, or correct a sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
2255 (ECF No. 193), motion to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF
No. 194), motion for relief under the First Step Act (ECF No.
202), motion to reduce sentence (ECF No. 207), motion to
substitute attorney (ECF No. 220), motion for discovery (ECF
No. 222), motion for evidentiary hearing (ECF No. 223), and
motion to appoint counsel (ECF No. 228), as well as
Respondent United States of America's
(“Government”) motion for summary judgment (ECF
No. 212). For the reasons set forth below, all of Waters'
motions are denied and the Government's motion for
summary judgment is granted.
March 25, 2015, Waters was charged in a single-count
indictment with being a felon in possession of a firearm, in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). (ECF No. 12.) Prior
to trial, Petitioner sought to suppress various evidence,
challenging police reliance on an anonymous 911 call that led
the police to his location-where they observed him in
possession of a firearm-as the basis for reasonable suspicion
or probable cause. (See ECF Nos. 63, 80, 96.) The
undersigned denied Waters' motions to suppress. (ECF No.
80.) Thereafter, on September 14, 2015, a jury found Waters
guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm. (ECF No.
April 13, 2016, Waters was sentenced to a term of 120
months' incarceration (ECF Nos. 161, 162), which
represented the middle of his guideline range and a statutory
maximum sentence (see ECF No. 165 at 16). The
judgment was entered on April 15, 2016. (ECF No. 162.) Waters
appealed his conviction and sentence, which were affirmed by
the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. (ECF No. 168.) The
mandate was issued July 31, 2017. (ECF No. 183.) The U.S.
Supreme Court denied Waters' petition for a writ of
certiorari on January 8, 2018. (ECF No. 189.) Waters timely
filed the instant motion to vacate, set aside, or correct a
sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 on January 2,
2019. (ECF No. 193.)
to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct a Sentence Pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2255
prisoner in federal custody may attack the validity of his
sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 by filing a motion
in the court that imposed the sentence. To succeed on such a
motion, the prisoner must prove one of the following: (1) the
sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws
of the United States; (2) the court lacked jurisdiction to
impose the sentence; (3) the sentence exceeded the maximum
authorized by law; or (4) the sentence is otherwise subject
to collateral attack. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a).
district court need not hold an evidentiary hearing on a
§ 2255 motion if “the motion and the files and
records of the case conclusively show that the prisoner is
entitled to no relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(b). The
determination of whether to hold an evidentiary hearing
ordinarily is best left to the common sense and sound
discretion of the district court. Raines v. United
States, 423 F.2d 526, 530 (4th Cir. 1970). “When
the district court denies § 2255 relief without an
evidentiary hearing, the nature of the court's ruling is
akin to a ruling on a motion for summary judgment.”
United States v. Poindexter, 492 F.3d 263, 267 (4th
court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see Rule 12, Rules Governing
Section 2255 Proceedings (“The Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure . . ., to the extent that they are not inconsistent
with any statutory provisions or these rules, may be applied
to a proceeding under these rules.”) “A party
asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must
support the assertion by: (A) citing to particular parts of
materials in the record . . .; or (B) showing that the
materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a
genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce
admissible evidence to support the fact.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(c)(1). “The evidence must be viewed in the light
most favorable to the non-moving party, with all reasonable
inferences drawn in that party's favor. The court
therefore cannot weigh the evidence or make credibility
determinations.” Reyazuddin v. Montgomery
Cty., 789 F.3d 407, 413 (4th Cir. 2015) (internal
citations and quotation marks omitted).
Assistance of Counsel
Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides
that “[i]n all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall
enjoy the right . . . to have the Assistance of Counsel for
his defence.” U.S. Const. amend. VI. The U.S. Supreme
Court has held that this right is violated when counsel
retained by, or appointed to, a criminal defendant fails to
provide adequate or effective legal assistance. See
Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 686 (1984).
Strickland established a two-prong test for a claim
of ineffective assistance of counsel in violation of the
Sixth Amendment, under which the criminal defendant must show
deficient performance and resulting prejudice. Id.
at 687. “The performance prong of Strickland
requires a defendant to show ‘that counsel's
representation fell below an objective standard of
reasonableness.'” Lafler v. Cooper, 566
U.S. 156, 163 (2012) (quoting Hill v. Lockhart, 474
U.S. 52, 57 (1985)). “[C]ounsel should be
‘strongly presumed to have rendered adequate assistance
and made all significant decisions in the exercise of
reasonable professional judgment, '” and courts
should indulge in a “‘strong presumption that
counsel's conduct fell within the wide range of
reasonable professional assistance.'” Burt v.
Titlow, 134 S.Ct. 10, 17 (2013) (modifications omitted)
(quoting Strickland, 466 U.S. at 689-90). “To
establish Strickland prejudice a defendant must
‘show that there is a reasonable probability that, but
for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the
proceeding would have been different.'”
Lafler, 566 U.S. at 163 (quoting
Strickland, 466 U.S. at 694).
U.S.C. § 2255 ...