United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
JOSEPH M. HOOD, Senior District Judge.
This matter is before the Court upon the Report and Recommendation of Magistrate Judge Hanly A. Ingram. [D.E. 151]. Petitioner filed a pro se Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. [D.E. 137]. The matter was then referred to Magistrate Judge Ingram for a recommended disposition. The Magistrate Judge filed his Report and Recommendation on March 14, 2014, and Petitioner timely filed his objections to the Report and Recommendation on April 1, 2014. This matter is now ripe for the Court's consideration.
I. Procedural History and Standard of Review
Generally, "[a] judge of the court shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). After reviewing the Report and Recommendation in this case and reviewing the findings de novo, the Court agrees with the Magistrate Judge's recommendation to deny Petitioner relief.
Pursuant to a binding plea agreement under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1)(C), Petitioner was sentenced to 130 months imprisonment for conspiracy to distribute 28 grams or more of crack cocaine. [D.E. 100; 129]. In the plea agreement, Petitioner waived "his right to appeal and his right to attack collaterally his guilty plea, conviction, and sentence, including any order of restitution." [D.E. 100 at 6]. Although Petitioner waived his right to collaterally attack his sentence, Petitioner filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, arguing that the United States did not properly file its notice of intent to seek an enhanced statutory penalty and that counsel was ineffective by not properly advising Petitioner on the terms of the plea agreement, as well as alleging various Constitutional violations.
Petitioner raises four objections to the report and recommendation issued by the Magistrate Judge. First, Petitioner continues to assert that the United States did not properly file notice of its intent to seek an enhanced statutory penalty, pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 851. [D.E. 152 at 2]. Second, Petitioner contends that the United States was required to file an indictment including all elements of his past convictions the United States was relying on to seek an enhanced penalty. [D.E. 152 at 3]. Next, Petitioner contends that trial counsel was ineffective because counsel failed to know federal laws. [D.E. 152 at 4]. Finally, Petitioner contends that using various factors to increase his sentencing guideline range violated his constitutional rights because it increased the base level of his conviction beyond what was indicted by the grand jury. [D.E. 152 at 5].
Upon de novo review, the Court accepts the Magistrate Judge's findings and will dismiss Petitioner's petition. Initially, the Court notes that Petitioner did not file an objection to the portion of the Magistrate Judge's determination that Petitioner knowingly and voluntarily waived his right to collaterally attack his guilty plea, conviction, and sentence. See [D.E. 151 at 12]. The Court is only required to review the portions of the report and recommendation to which Petitioner filed objections. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
[I]n cases where a defendant argues that his plea was not knowing or voluntary, or was the product of ineffective assistance of counsel..., it would be entirely circular for the government to argue that the defendant has waived his right to an appeal or a collateral attack when the substance of his claim challenges the very validity of the waiver itself.
In re Acosta, 480 F.3d 421, 422 (6th Cir. 2007) (citations omitted). Thus, as Petitioner has waived his collateral remedies, the only objections the Court need address are those pertaining to Petitioner's claim of ineffective assistance of counsel and whether his guilty plea was knowing and voluntary. However, the Court will address, and dismiss, all of Petitioner's objections.
1. Petitioner received proper notice under 21 U.S.C. § 851
The Court construes Petitioner's argument about receiving notice of the statutory sentence enhancement as one challenging the knowing and voluntary nature of his guilty plea. "A guilty plea is valid if it is entered knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently by the defendant." United States v. Webb, 403 F.3d 373, 378 (6th Cir. 2005) (citing Brady v. United States, 397 U.S. 742, 748 (1970)). By arguing that he had no notice, Petitioner is essentially claiming that he lacked "sufficient awareness of the relevant circumstances and likely consequences" of entering a plea of guilty. Brady, 397 U.S. at 748. The record reveals that the United States filed notice of its intent to seek an enhanced sentence and that Petitioner was sufficiently aware of that intent. Furthermore, the Court adequately ensured Petitioner was entering a knowing and voluntary plea, including the knowledge that Petitioner was subject to an enhanced penalty, pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11. Therefore, Petitioner's guilty plea was entered into knowingly and voluntarily.
The United States properly filed notice of its intent to seek an enhanced sentence pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 851.
No person who stands convicted of an offense under this part shall be sentenced to increased punishment by reason of one or more prior convictions, unless before trial, or before entry of a plea of guilty, the United States attorney files an information with the court (and serves a copy of such information on the person or ...