United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
C. Reeves United States District Judge
Taniesha Strickland pleaded guilty in April 2016 to
conspiring to distribute heroin in violation of 21 U.S.C.
§§ 846 and 841(a)(1). [Record Nos. 77, 98] She was
later sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 57 months, to be
followed by a three-year term of supervised release. [Record
No. 98] Strickland did not file a direct
appeal. However, she filed a pro se
motion to vacate, set aside or correct her sentence under 28
U.S.C. § 2255 on August 24, 2017. [Record No. 114]
§ 2255 motion was referred to a United States Magistrate
Judge for review and issuance of a report pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). After briefing, United States
Magistrate Judge Hanly A. Ingram recommended that
Strickland's § 2255 motion be denied. [Record No.
127] Although this Court must make a de novo
determination of those portions of the Magistrate Judge's
recommendations to which objections are made, 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1)(C), “[i]t does not appear that
Congress intended to require district court review of a
magistrate's factual or legal conclusions, under a de
novo or any other standard, when neither party objects
to those findings.” Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S.
140, 150 (1985). Additionally, a party who fails to file
timely objections to a magistrate's recommendation
generally waives her right to appeal. Id. at 153-54.
than 14 days have passed and neither party has filed
objections. Nevertheless, the Court has examined the record
and, having made a de novo determination, agrees
with the Magistrate Judge's Recommended Disposition.
raised thirty-eight separate arguments in her § 2255
motion, which frequently overlap with one another. At times,
the arguments are difficult to follow. However, the
Magistrate Judge painstakingly analyzed each claim and
explained why Strickland has failed to state a viable
argument under § 2255. Although not required to do so,
this Court has reviewed each of Strickland's arguments
and has determined that her petition should be denied.
initial matter, Strickland's claims that her guilty plea
was not knowing and voluntary are without merit. This Court
thoroughly followed the requirements of Rule 11 during the
defendant's plea hearing, ensuring that her guilty plea
was knowing and voluntary. [See Record No. 124.]
Strickland advised the Court that no one had made any threats
or in any way forced her to enter a guilty plea.
Id., p. 14. Her allegations concerning trial
counsel's out-of-court statements are belied by her
complete and truthful statements made under oath during the
plea hearing. See United States v. Todaro, 982 F.2d
1025, 1029 (6th Cir. 1993) (defendant bound by statements
made in response to trial judge's scrupulous Rule 11
the record belies Strickland's suggestion that she was
incompetent to enter a plea or that her attorney should have
requested a competency evaluation. She denied having ever
been diagnosed with or treated for any type of mental health
condition. [Record No. 124, pp. 5-6] Strickland advised the
probation officer that she left high school during her senior
year, but obtained her GED in 2016. She argues that she is
“slow in thinking” and was unable to understand
the proceedings, but at the time of the events that led to
her charges, she was attending her fourth semester of
community college, working toward a degree as a pharmacy
was charged following the execution of a search warrant at an
apartment located at 175 North Locust Hill Drive in
Lexington, Kentucky. Strickland maintains that she was just a
visitor who had arrived at the apartment the previous day. As
the Magistrate Judge noted, many of Strickland's claims
are focused on a theory of mistaken identity, in which
Strickland suggests that she has been confused with another
woman who actually paid rent at the apartment. [See
Record No. 114, pp. 7, 27.] Strickland argues that
counsel's investigation into this theory was inadequate.
She also contends that counsel failed to disclose to her
discovery items concerning the search warrant. Id.
claims regarding mistaken identity are of little consequence.
Pursuant to her plea agreement, Strickland admitted that,
along with co-Defendant Antonio Rosebur, she sold small
amounts of heroin to a cooperating source in July 2015.
[Record No. 95, p. 2] Although Strickland maintains that she
arrived in Lexington the day before the search warrant was
executed, she told police that she had accompanied Rosebur as
he transported drugs from Detroit to Lexington and that she
distributed small quantities of heroin while in Lexington.
Upon execution of the search warrant, officers seized heroin
from the defendant's wallet and cocaine from her shoe.
During her plea colloquy, Strickland advised the Court that
she knew that Rosebur was selling drugs and that she helped
him. Specifically, she stated that she sold drugs for him
when he was sick, or if he was not there, or when he asked
her to do it. [Record No. 124, pp. 24-25]
establish ineffective assistance of counsel, Strickland must
show not only that her attorney's assistance fell below
an objective standard of reasonableness, but also that she
was prejudiced by his performance. Strickland v.
Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 686 (1984). Put simply,
Strickland has failed to allege that she was prejudiced by
counsel's alleged failure to investigate the mistaken
identity theory or to disclose discovery regarding the search
defendant also contends that her attorney provided
ineffective assistance by failing to file motions to
suppress, sever, to dismiss the indictment, and for a change
of venue. However, a defendant alleging that counsel has been
ineffective for failing to file a particular motion must show
that the motion would have been meritorious. Kimmelman v.
Morrison, 477 U.S. 365, 374 (1986). Strickland has not
provided any facts or arguments to suggest that any of these
motions would have been successful. Further, counsel reported
in his affidavit that he evaluated the search warrant and
determined that filing a motion to suppress would have been
meritless. Counsel is not required to raise frivolous
defenses or arguments to avoid a charge of ineffective
representation. See Krist v. Foltz, 804 F.2d 944,
946-47 (6th Cir. 1986).
also claims that her attorney did not explain the appeal
process and advised her that she would be unable to pay him
to represent her on appeal. [Record No. 114, p. 41] But even
if these allegations are true, Strickland's argument is
unavailing. At the conclusion of the sentencing hearing, the
Court advised her of her right to appeal, the timeframe for
doing so, and her ability to have an attorney appointed to
represent her during an appeal. Strickland signed a document
indicating that she had been read these rights in open court
and that she had been provided a copy. [Record No. 96]
Likewise, the Court is unpersuaded by Strickland's claim
that she has been prejudiced by her attorney's alleged
failure to ...