United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division
Bryan Harwell Chief United States District Judge.
matter is before the Court on Petitioner Marvin Joshua
White's pro se motion to vacate, set aside, or correct
his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. See
ECF No. 109. The Government has filed a motion for summary
judgment. See ECF No. 127. The Court denies
Petitioner's motion and grants the Government's
motion for the reasons herein.
2015, a federal grand jury returned a seven-count indictment
charging Petitioner with violations of 21 U.S.C. §§
841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(C) (Counts One through Four), 21 U.S.C.
§§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(B) (Count Five), 18 U.S.C.
§§ 922(g)(1), 924(a)(2), and 924(e) (Count Six),
and 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A) (Count Seven). See
ECF No. 2.
September 2016, Petitioner, represented by attorney Thurmond
Brooker (“plea counsel”), pled guilty to Count
Five-possession with intent to distribute crack
cocaine-pursuant to a written plea agreement under Fed. R.
Crim. P. 11(c)(1)(C). See ECF Nos. 67, 68, 69, &
94. Petitioner's presentence report (“PSR”)
showed he had two prior controlled substance offenses within
the meaning of the Sentencing Guidelines: (1) two 2004 South
Carolina convictions for possession with intent to distribute
crack cocaine and (2) a 2007 federal conviction for
possession with intent to distribute a quantity of not more
than five grams of cocaine base. See PSR at
¶¶ 42, 50. The PSR classified him as a career
offender, and his resulting Guidelines range was 188 to 235
months' imprisonment. See PSR at ¶¶
54, 113. However, under the Rule 11(c)(1)(C) plea agreement,
the parties agreed 180 months' imprisonment was the
appropriate disposition of the case. See ECF No. 67
at p. 4.
April 2017, the Court accepted the Rule 11(c)(1)(C) plea
agreement and sentenced Petitioner to 180 months'
imprisonment. See ECF Nos. 67, 82, 84, & 95.
Judgment was entered on April 11, 2017. See ECF No.
84. Petitioner filed a direct appeal, and the Fourth Circuit
affirmed in part and dismissed in part. See ECF Nos.
87 & 99; see also United States v. White, 707
Fed.Appx. 133 (4th Cir. 2017). The Fourth Circuit issued the
mandate on March 7, 2018. See ECF No. 102.
January 11, 2019,  Petitioner filed the instant § 2255
motion. See ECF No. 109. Thereafter, plea counsel
filed an affidavit addressing his representation of
Petitioner. See ECF No. 122. The Government filed a
response in opposition and a motion for summary judgment.
See ECF Nos. 127 & 128. Petitioner filed a
response in opposition to the Government's motion.
See ECF No. 146.
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. For a court to
vacate, set aside, or correct a sentence, a petitioner must
prove one of the following occurred: (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);
see United States v. Thomas, 627 F.3d 534, 538 (4th
Cir. 2010). The determination of whether to hold an
evidentiary hearing ordinarily is left to the 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
citation and quotation marks omitted).
§ 2255 claims allege plea counsel was constitutionally
ineffective. Claims of ineffective assistance of counsel must
be reviewed under the two-part test enunciated in
Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984).
First, a petitioner must show counsel's performance was
deficient and fell below an objective standard of
reasonableness. Id. at 687-88. Second, the
petitioner must show prejudice, meaning “there is a
reasonable probability that, but for counsel's
unprofessional errors, the result of the ...