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Moorhead v. United States

decided as amended march 16 1972.: March 3, 1972.

MARIO C. MOORHEAD, APPELLANT,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA



Seitz, Chief Judge, and Aldisert and Gibbons, Circuit Judges.

Author: Gibbons

Opinion OF THE COURT

GIBBONS, Circuit Judge.

This an appeal from the denial by the District Court of the Virgin Islands of two separate motions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (1971) for relief from federal custody. The appellant, Mario C. Moorhead, is in custody at the Federal Penitentiary, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, serving a sentence for armed robbery of a grocery store in the District of Columbia. This sentence was imposed by the District Court of the Virgin Islands when Moorhead, a native of St. Croix, having been arrested in the Virgin Islands on a fugitive warrant, waived trial in the District of Columbia, consented to the disposition of his case in the Virgin Islands and pleaded guilty. Moorhead's first § 2255 motion was denied on April 15, 1971. His second § 2255 motion which the court treated as a motion for reconsideration of its April 15, 1971 order, was denied on May 13, 1971. A notice of appeal from both orders was filed on June 10, 1971. Since the United States is a party the appeal is timely as to both orders. Fed. R. App. P. 4(a).

Moorhead's guilty plea was entered before Judge Clary*fn1 on April 21, 1970. He was then represented by retained counsel. Judge Clary complied fully with the requirements of Fed.R.Crim.P. 11 and there is nothing in the record which suggests that the guilty plea was anything but voluntary. Moorhead was fully advised of the nature of the charges and the consequences of the plea. The court made adequate inquiry into the factual basis for the plea.

On May 25, 1970 Moorhead appeared before Judge Christian for sentencing. In the pre-sentence investigation report there appeared a statement, attributed to Moorhead, allegedly made subsequent to his guilty plea, which was inconsistent with guilt. Before imposing sentence Judge Christian asked Moorhead if he had made such a statement to the probation officer. After consulting with his counsel Moorhead denied making the statement. He was then advised that if the statement to the probation officer were true the court would void his guilty plea and return him for trial. The defendant responded that he was guilty. Judge Christian then outlined the report of the Metropolitan Police of the District of Columbia which alleged that Moorhead had been apprehended after an exchange of gun fire with the police immediately after robbing a Safeway Store. He asked Moorhead if the version of the Metropolitan Police was true and Moorhead acknowledged that it was.

Moorhead, at the time he was committed to the custody of the Attorney General, was advised and he would be returned to court for final sentencing and that he could receive a maximum of fifteen years in prison pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4208(b). The Attorney General submitted to the court the report required by that section of the statute, and on November 5, 1970 he was brought before Judge Christian for final sentencing. Again he was represented by retained counsel. He was afforded the opportunity to speak, and he made no indication that he desired to withdraw his guilty plea. He was sentenced to seven years to be served in accordance with 18 U.S.C. § 4208(a) (2).

In his § 2255 petitions Moorhead contends that his plea was in fact involuntary. He contends that he was induced to plead guilty by statements of his retained attorneys and his father. In summary he alleges that he was assured by his attorneys that there was a "proposition" that if he pleaded guilty he would get no more than a suspended sentence or full probation, that this "proposition" was later changed to a "light sentence," that he was advised by his attorneys to respond affirmatively when asked by the court if his plea was being made voluntarily, that he is in fact innocent and has never admitted his guilt other than in open court.

Needless to say, the records of the court reflect no such "proposition." Moreover neither of Moorhead's § 2255 petitions alleges that Judge Clary or Judge Christian or the prosecuting authorities were parties to the "proposition." Rather the contention seems to be that his attorneys, perhaps falsely, assured him there was a "proposition" and thereby induced him to enter a guilty plea to a charge of which in fact he was not guilty.

Judge Christian after a careful examination of the record denied Moorhead's motions without a hearing. Denying the first motion the court ruled:

"I find the allegations of petitioner's motion to be patently false from a careful study of the motion, files and records in this case. No amount of testimony by petitioner or the persons mentioned by him in his moving papers could possibly stand up against the record of petitioner's plea and sentencing proceedings. No substantial issues of fact are raised, and the motion, therefore, must be denied."

Denying the second motion the court ruled:

"I conclude that this petitioner is not entitled to an evidentiary hearing on the records ...


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