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Coleman v. United States

January 6, 2009

EDWARD COLEMAN, PETITIONER,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Tucker, J.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Presently before this Court is pro se Petitioner's Motion to Vacate, Set Aside or Correct Sentence, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §2255 (Doc. 82), the Government's Memorandum in Opposition (Doc. 85), and the Petitioner's Response (Doc. 86). For the reasons set forth below, the Court will deny Petitioner's Motion.

I. BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On February 26, 2004, Petitioner was indicted on two counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1), and three counts of possession of a controlled substance, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 844. The indictment stems from two unrelated incidents.

Counts One, Two, and Three relate to Petitioner's arrest on June 13, 2003. On this date, Petitioner was stopped by a Philadelphia police officer in the early hours of the morning for driving without his headlights. As the officer approached the car, he saw a gun in Petitioner's hand and ordered Petitioner and the two other passengers accompanying him out of the vehicle.

Petitioner did not exit the vehicle, and instead attempted to flee from the officer. Petitioner eventually crashed the car and fled the scene. On the front seat and floor of the car, Petitioner left behind a "fake" drivers license, over $1,200 in cash, and a loaded 9-millimeter handgun with an obliterated serial number. Petitioner was soon arrested nearby at his girlfriend's house where he was found in possession of a small amount of cocaine and Xanax.

Counts Four and Five arose out of Petitioner's arrest by a Philadelphia police officer on September 26, 2003. On this date, while out on bail from the June 13, 2003, arrest, Petitioner was observed by an officer, who knew that he was wanted for questioning in another matter, driving a vehicle without a license plate.*fn1 The officer followed Petitioner as he turned onto a side street and left the vehicle, requesting that Petitioner stop walking. Petitioner did not comply with the officer's request and fled, again, this time on foot. He was eventually apprehended by several officers. In the partially open console of the car Petitioner left behind, one of the officers discovered a loaded .38 caliber Beretta handgun and crack cocaine.

On July 19, 2004, this Court granted Petitioner's motion to sever the indictments for trial and, after a hearing, denied Petitioner's motion to suppress evidence on both indictments. On July 30, 2004, a jury found Petitioner guilty of counts One, Two, and Three. Subsequently, on November 1, 2004, Petitioner voluntarily pled guilty to counts Four and Five. Petitioner's sentencing hearing was conducted on January 28, 2005. Based on the Court's finding that the Petitioner was a career criminal, the Court imposed a sentence of 240 months imprisonment for counts One and Four, and 36 months imprisonment for counts Two, Three, and Five. Petitioner's sentences were to run concurrently, for a total of 240 months imprisonment, five years supervised release and a special assessment of $500. Petitioner took a direct appeal of his conviction and sentence, and after review the Third Circuit affirmed both Petitioner's conviction and sentence. United States v. Coleman, 451 F.3d 154 (3d Cir. 2006); cert. denied United States v. Coleman, 127 S.Ct. 991 (2007).

On November 14, 2007, Petitioner filed the instant motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §2255.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

A prisoner in custody under sentence of this Court who believes "that the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, . . . or is otherwise subject to collateral attack, may move the court which imposed the sentence to vacate, set aside or correct the sentence." 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (2006). Relief for a habeas corpus petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 is proper where judgment was made without jurisdiction, the sentence is not authorized by law, or the prisoner's constitutional rights have been infringed. Id. Accordingly, a district court may dismiss a motion brought under § 2255 without a hearing where the record shows conclusively that the movant is not entitled to relief. U.S. v. Day, 969 F.2d 39, 41-42 (3d Cir. 1992).

III. DISCUSSION

In his ยง 2255 motion, Petitioner asserts three reasons as to why his appellate counsel was ineffective. It is well settled that, when determining whether a petitioner received reasonably effective assistance under the circumstances of the trial, the court must: (1) assess whether the alleged errors of the counsel were so serious that counsel did not perform the function guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment, and, if so; (2) whether the petitioner has demonstrated a reasonable probability that the outcome of the proceeding would have been different but for the counsel's ...


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