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United States v. Fritts

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division

February 1, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff/Respondent,
v.
DOYLE STANFORD FRITTS, Defendant/Petitioner.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

          GREGORY F. VAN TATENHOVE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on two Recommended Dispositions filed by United States Magistrate Judge Hanly A. Ingram. The Defendant, Doyle Fritts, first filed a pro se motion to vacate his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. [R. 290.] Judge Ingram reviewed the motion, and prepared a Recommended Disposition. [R. 307.] Mr. Fritts filed objections to this Recommendation. [R. 310.] Shortly after, Mr. Fritts filed another pro se motion to vacate his sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. [R. 313.] Judge Ingram prepared a Supplemental Recommended Disposition for Mr. Fritts' second motion. [R. 316.] Mr. Fritts did not file any objections to Judge Ingram's Supplemental Recommended Disposition.

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b)(2), a petitioner has fourteen days after service to register any objections to the Recommended Disposition or else waive his rights to appeal. In order to receive de novo review by this Court, any objection to the recommended disposition must be specific. Mira v. Marshall, 806 F.2d 636, 637 (6th Cir. 1986). A specific objection “explain[s] and cite[s] specific portions of the report which [counsel] deem[s] problematic.” Robert v. Tesson, 507 F.3d 981, 994 (6th Cir. 2007). A general objection that fails to identify specific factual or legal issues from the recommendation, however, is not permitted, since it duplicates the Magistrate's efforts and wastes judicial economy. Howard v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 932 F.2d 505, 509 (6th Cir. 1991). When no objections are made, however, this Court is not required to “review . . . a magistrate's factual or legal conclusions, under a de novo or any other standard . . . .” Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 150 (1985). Parties who fail to object to a Magistrate's report and recommendation are also barred from appealing a district court's order adopting that report and recommendation. United States v. Walters, 638 F.2d 947 (6th Cir. 1981).

         Mr. Fritts filed timely objections to the initial Recommended Disposition. [R. 310.] The Court acknowledges its duty to review Mr. Fritts's filings under a more lenient standard than the one applied to attorneys because he is proceeding pro se. See Franklin v. Rose, 765 F.2d 82, 84-85 (6th Cir. 1985). Under this more lenient construction, the objections are sufficiently definite to trigger the Court's obligation to conduct a de novo review. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(c). The Court has satisfied that duty, reviewing the entire record, including the pleadings, the parties' arguments, relevant case law and statutory authority, as well as applicable procedural rules. For the following reasons, Mr. Fritts's objections will be OVERRULED. However, because Mr. Fritts failed to make timely objections to Judge Ingram's Supplemental Recommended Disposition, this Court is not obligated to conduct a de novo review, and the Supplemental Recommended Disposition will be ADOPTED.

         Mr. Fritts also recently filed a letter with this Court, requesting a review of his motions under § 2255. [R. 326.] In this letter, Mr. Fritts does not indicate any additional grounds for relief other than those already addressed in his 2015 and 2016 motions. Id. To the extent that this letter could be construed as a motion, it will be DENIED AS MOOT.

         I

         Judge Ingram sets forth the factual and procedural background of the case in his initial Recommended Disposition. The Court mentions only key facts to frame its discussion and analysis, incorporating Judge Ingram's discussion of the record into this Order.

         Mr. Fritts was charged with two counts of conspiracy to distribute a quantity of pills containing oxycodone, one count aiding and abetting distribution of a quantity of pills containing oxycodone, one count possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and one count obstruction of justice. [R. 140.] The Court appointed Eric Edwards as counsel for Mr. Fritts, pursuant to the Criminal Justice Act. [R. 2.] A jury found Mr. Fritts guilty of the three counts related to the distribution of oxycodone, as well as guilty of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, but acquitted him on obstruction of justice. [R. 202.] Based on an offense level of twenty-eight and a criminal history category of VI, Mr. Fritts's Guidelines Range was 140 to 175 months imprisonment. [R. 254.] This Court sentenced him to 180 months each as to the three charges relating to oxycodone distribution and 120 months as to the possession of a firearm, all to run concurrently for a total of 180 months. [R. 251.]

         Mr. Fritts appealed, and on February 27, 2014, the United States Court of Appeals affirmed his conviction. [R. 270.] He did not petition for a writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of the United States. [R. 307 at 3.] On May 26, 2015, Mr. Fritts filed his first Motion to Vacate pursuant to § 2255, alleging four claims relating to ineffective assistance of counsel. [R. 290-1.] On December 10, 2015, Judge Ingram issued a Report and Recommendation, recommending all four of Mr. Fritts's claims be denied and finding that an evidentiary hearing was not required. [R. 307.] Mr. Fritts objected to that Recommendation. [R. 310.] Several months later, on June 30, 2016, Mr. Fritts filed a second Motion to Vacate under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, this time alleging he should not have received “a 4-point inhancement [sic]” pursuant to Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 251 (2015) and Welch v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 1257 (2016). [R. 313.] Judge Ingram found that neither Johnson nor Welch applied to Mr. Fritts and issued a Supplemental Recommended Disposition, recommending this Court deny Mr. Fritts's June 30, 2016 Motion. [R. 316.] Mr. Fritts did not object to the Supplemental Recommendation. Since filing his initial § 2255 motion, Mr. Fritts has submitted numerous letters to this Court, requesting consideration of his claims. [R. 311; R. 319; R. 321; R. 326; R. 328; R. 329.]

         II

         As to Mr. Fritts's initial Motion to Vacate [R. 290], filed on June 2, 2015, Judge Ingram outlined Mr. Fritts's four claims as follows:

(1) Ineffective assistance of Counsel during Plea Negotiations which caused Defendant to Reject the Government's Plea Offer.
(2) Ineffective Assistance of Counsel for Failing to Advise Defendant of possibility of entering an Open Plea.
(3) Ineffective Assistance of Counsel for Filing to Object to the Inclusion of Convictions too old to be used in ...

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