The opinion of the court was delivered by: Baylson, J.
MEMORANDUM RE: MOTION TO VACATE, SET ASIDE, OR CORRECT SENTENCE
Petitioner Anthony Jackson is currently serving a 300-month term of imprisonment (Docket No. 110) after being convicted of possession of cocaine base ("crack cocaine") with intent to distribute, and possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute within 1,000 feet of a school zone (Docket No. 99). After the Third Circuit denied his appeal (Docket No. 142), Jackson filed the pending pro se Habeas Corpus Motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct his Sentence ("§ 2255 Motion"), which asserts several ineffective assistance of counsel claims. (Docket No. 144). For the reasons detailed below, the Motion will be denied without an evidentiary hearing.
I. Factual and Procedural Background
On September 25, 2003, a federal grand jury indicted Jackson of four-counts. (Docket No. 2.) After a superseding indictment was returned on March 23, 2004 (Docket No. 41), a second superseding indictment was issued on August 5, 2004, which charged Jackson with four counts: (1) possession with intent to distribute more than five grams of crack cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(B); (2) possession with intent to distribute more than five grams of crack cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 860(a); (3) possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c); and (4) possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) (Docket No. 68).
Jackson was originally represented by a Federal Defender, but prior to trial, another attorney, Edward J. Daly, was appointed. Daly filed a motion to suppress the evidence seized, which the Court denied after a hearing on June 15, 2004. (Docket No. 54). Jackson then requested a change of counsel, and Jeanne Damirgian was appointed. (Docket No. 59.) Jackson's jury trial began on November 1, 2004. (Docket No. 112.) Two days later, the jury returned a verdict of guilty as to the first two crack cocaine counts, and not guilty as to the remaining firearm counts. (Docket No. 99.) On February 9, 2005, this Court held a sentencing hearing, and determined that Jackson's prior convictions qualified him as a Career Offender, for which the applicable sentencing guidelines range provided for 262 to 327 months' incarceration. (Docket No. 111). Subsequently, the Court sentenced Jackson to a 300-month term of imprisonment, an 8-year period of supervised release, a $1,000 fine, and a $100 special assessment fee, for each of the counts, to be served concurrently. (Docket No. 110.)
Damirgian, Jackson's attorney, filed an appeal to Jackson's conviction and sentence with the Third Circuit. (Docket No. 106.) On April 5, 2006, the Third Circuit affirmed Jackson's conviction for violating 21 U.S.C. § 860, but vacated his conviction for violating 21 U.S.C. § 841 on the ground that the latter conviction should have merged with the 21 U.S.C. § 860 conviction as a lesser-included offense. (Docket No. 118.) On May 31, 2006, upon remand for resentencing, and after merging the two counts of which Jackson was convicted, this Court again imposed a 300-month term of imprisonment, an 8-year period of supervised release, a $1,000 fine, and a $100 special assessment fee, resulting in a net $100 decrease in the special assessment fee from the original sentence. (Docket No. 125.)
On May 4, 2007, this Court denied a request Jackson had submitted by letter to modify his sentence by discharging the imposed fine. (Docket No. 128). On June 25, 2007, while his appeal from that decision was pending, Jackson, although still represented by counsel, filed his first pro se § 2255 Motion. (Docket No. 129.) On May 22, 2009, Court denied that § 2255 Motion as untimely. (Docket No. 137.) On December 9, 2008, the Third Circuit denied Jackson's direct appeal. (Docket No. 142.)
On November 10, 2009, Jackson filed this second § 2255 Motion pro se. (Docket No. 144.)
Jackson brings his Motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a), which provides as follows: A prisoner in custody under sentence of a court established by Act of Congress claiming the right to be released upon the ground that the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, or that the court was without jurisdiction to impose such sentence, or that the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law, or is otherwise subject to collateral attack, may move the court which imposed the sentence to vacate, set aside or correct the sentence.
A district court may grant relief under this statute if the court finds that "the judgment was rendered without jurisdiction, or that the sentence imposed was not authorized by law or otherwise open to collateral attack, or that there has been such a denial or infringement of the constitutional rights of the prisoner as to render the judgment vulnerable to collateral attack." 28 U.S.C. § 2255(b).
B. Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
Jackson argues that counsel was ineffective prior to and during trial for numerous reasons, each of which will be detailed below. (Habeas Mem. 5-22.) Claims for ineffective assistance of counsel are controlled by Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984). Under Strickland, a petitioner "must overcome the presumption that, under the circumstances, the challenged action 'might be considered sound trial strategy'" in order to prevail on an ineffectiveness claim. Id. at 689 (quoting Michel v. Louisiana, 350 U.S. 91, 101 (1955)). In order to do so, "a petitioner must establish that (1) counsel's performance was deficient, and (2) counsel's deficient performance prejudiced the defense." United States v. Zahir, No. 03-0800, 2008 WL 5050180, at *3 (E.D. Pa. Nov.26, 2008) (Baylson, J.) (citing Strickland, 466 U.S. at 687).
The first Strickland factor of deficient performance requires the petitioner to prove that counsel's conduct was so unreasonable that no competent lawyer would have followed it, and that counsel has "made errors so serious that counsel was not functioning as the 'counsel' guaranteed . . . by the Sixth Amendment." Strickland, 466 U.S. at 687. As for prejudice, the petitioner must demonstrate that there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's "unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different." Id. at 694. "A court need not determine whether counsel's performance was deficient before examining the prejudice suffered . . . . If it is easier to dispose of an ineffectiveness claim on the ground of lack of sufficient prejudice, which . . . will often be so, that course should be followed." Id. at 697.
As a preliminary matter, Jackson contends that the government's response to his habeas petition was untimely and should be ignored. (Docket No. 147.) The Court, however, finds no basis for ignoring the government's response, and declines to do so or to grant habeas relief on this basis. As the Third Circuit has made clear, the "general rule" in habeas cases "is that the petitioner himself bears the burden of proving that his conviction is illegal." See United States v. Hollis, 569 F.2d 199, 205 (3d Cir. 1977). "The rationale for this precept is that criminal proceedings usually may ...