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Rogers v. United States

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

November 21, 2019

Andre Matrel Rogers, Petitioner,
v.
United States of America, Respondent.

          ORDER

          R. BRYAN HARWELL CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on Petitioner Andre Matrel Rogers' pro se motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. See ECF No. 124. The Government has filed a Motion to Dismiss/Motion for Summary Judgment. See ECF No. 138. The Court denies Petitioner's motion and grants the Government's motion for the reasons herein.[1]

         Background

         In May 2017, a federal grand jury indicted Petitioner on one count of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute quantities of cocaine, crack cocaine, and marijuana, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846, and three counts of possession with intent to distribute and distribution of a quantity of crack cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(C). See ECF No. 2. Petitioner was initially represented by Assistant Federal Public Defender William F. Nettles IV, but due to a conflict, Mr. Nettles was relieved and attorney Maria Elias-Williams was appointed to represent Petitioner. See ECF Nos. 18, 62, & 64. In November 2017, the Government filed an information pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 851(a), seeking to enhance Petitioner's sentence and citing his two prior felony drug offenses. See ECF No. 70.

         In January 2018, Petitioner (still represented by Attorney Elias-Williams) pled guilty pursuant to a written plea agreement to one count of possession with intent to distribute and distribution of a quantity of crack cocaine.[2] See ECF Nos. 79, 80, & 81. Petitioner's presentence report (“PSR”) classified him as a career offender based on his (1) 2002 Arkansas conviction for criminal attempt delivery of a controlled substance and (2) 2009 South Carolina conviction for possession with intent to distribute/distribution/manufacturing cocaine base or methamphetamine, first offense. See PSR at ¶¶ 62, 65, 73, 93. His resulting advisory Sentencing Guidelines range was 188 to 235 months' imprisonment.

         In April 2018, the Court varied slightly downward-based on a motion filed by Attorney Elias-Williams-and sentenced Petitioner to 170 months' imprisonment followed by six years' supervised release. See ECF Nos. 97, 101, & 107. Judgment was entered on May 2, 2018. See ECF No. 107. Petitioner did not file a direct appeal.

         On April 12, 2019, [3] Petitioner filed the instant § 2255 motion. See ECF No. 124. Thereafter, Attorney Elias-Williams filed an affidavit addressing her representation of Petitioner. See ECF No. 136. The Government filed a Motion to Dismiss/Motion for Summary Judgment and a supporting memorandum. See ECF Nos. 138 & 139. Petitioner filed a response in opposition to the Government's motion. See ECF No. 146.

         Legal Standard

         A 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).

         The 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 Cir. 2007).

         “The 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).

         Discussion

         Petitioner's § 2255 motion presents three grounds, which the Court will address in turn.

         I. Grounds One & Two-Ineffective ...


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