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Johnson v. United States

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville

February 1, 2019




         I. Introduction

         This matter is before the Court on the pro se motion of the Movant, Taishaun Johnson, to vacate his sentence and conviction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (DN 78), and Johnson's motion for extension of time (DN 96). The motion to vacate was referred to the magistrate judge for findings of fact and recommendations for the disposition of Johnson's motion. DN 79. The United States was ordered to, and did, file a response (DN 80), to which Johnson replied (DN 84).

         On November 9, 2018, the magistrate judge filed his proposed findings of fact, conclusions of law, and recommendations. DN 94. The magistrate judge has recommended that Johnson's motion be denied, and that a certificate of appealability also be denied. On November 19, 2018, Johnson filed a motion for an extension of time purportedly to file objections to the magistrate judge's report.[1] DN 95. Thereafter, Johnson filed his objections to the magistrate judge's report. DN 96. Johnson having already filed objections to the magistrate's report, the Court will GRANT the motion for extension of time up until the day Johnson filed his objections. The Court now considers Johnson's objections and makes a de novo determination as to those portions of the report to which objection was made.

         II. Factual Background and Procedural History

         Johnson objects to the magistrate's finding of fact that Johnson's then wife, “Tonya Johnson was a convicted felon, a fact which the National Instant Criminal Background Check system detected in short order.” DN 94, at 1. The Court agrees that this factual finding is misrepresentative and will supplement the Report's findings of fact.

         In February of 2013, Johnson's then wife, Tonya Johnson, purchased a rifle, filled out the required ATF form, and took the rifle home. DN 63, at 5. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System denied her transaction, because the available information indicated that she had previously been convicted of a felony. Id. Upon receiving this information, an ATF agent and a detective with the Campbellsville, Kentucky Police Department went to the address Ms. Johnson had listed when she purchased the rifle to speak with her and recover the firearm if it was still in Ms. Johnson's possession. Id.

         When the law enforcement agents arrived at Johnson's home, Johnson was leaving and informed the officers that Ms. Johnson wasn't home, but the rifle was still in the house. Id. Johnson continued his conversation with the officers, informing them that he also had firearms in the house, and he also had past felony convictions. Id. The officers asked Johnson to sign a consent to search form. Id. After Johnson signed the form, the subsequent search of his home and car yielded ten firearms. Id.

         A grand jury returned a three-count Superseding Indictment charging Johnson and Ms. Johnson, with Counts 1 and 3 pertaining to Johnson. Count 1 charged Johnson with aiding and abetting Ms. Johnson in making false statements to a licensed firearms dealer, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(a)(1)(A) and 924(a)(2). Id. at 3. Count 3 charged Johnson with being a felon knowingly possessing ammunition and firearms, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) and 942(a)(2). Id. at 3-4.

         Johnson subsequently pleaded guilty to Count 3 of the Superseding Indictment, under a plea agreement stating that at the time of sentencing the United States would move to dismiss Count 1. DN 57, at ¶ 10. In the plea agreement, Johnson waived his right to directly appeal and contest or collaterally attack his conviction or sentence, “[u]nless based on claims of ineffective assistance of counsel or prosecutorial misconduct.” Id. at ¶ 12. The parties also stipulated to the factual basis for the plea, including that Johnson “consented to a search of his residence.” Id. at ¶ 3.

         The matter was set for sentencing and a Presentence Investigation Report (“PSR”) was ordered. According to the PSR, Johnson's total offense level was 25, and his criminal history category was IV. DN 63, at ¶ 63. The guideline imprisonment range was determined to be 84 months to 105 months. Id. This Court sentenced Johnson to seventy (70) months incarceration. DN 67.

         III. Legal Standard

         The Court makes a de novo determination of the proposed findings or recommendations of the magistrate to which the parties have objected. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C); Fed. R. Crim. P. 59(b)(3). To the extent that no objection is filed, the arguments are waived. Thomas v. Arn, 728 F.2d 813, 815 (6th Cir. 1984), aff'd, 474 U.S. 140, 147-48 (1985).

         IV. Discussion

         In the § 2255 motion now before the Court, Johnson asserts two grounds. First, Johnson asserts that his conviction was obtained as a result of evidence obtained illegally in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Second, Johnson asserts that his counsel was ineffective for ...

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