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O'Garro v. United States

October 7, 2010

ANTOINE O'GARRO, PETITIONER
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, RESPONDENT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Rambo

MEMORANDUM

On November 16, 2009, Petitioner Antoine O'Garro, an inmate currently incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution in Otisville, New York, filed the instant petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 2255 alleging ineffective assistance of counsel. Petitioner claims that counsel was ineffective for failing to raise the issue of a possible violation of the Interstate Agreement on Detainers ("IAD"), 18 U.S.C. App. 2, § 2, Art. 3 by the United States Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

I. Background

Antoine O'Garro was indicted by a grand jury on December 17, 2003, for unlawful possession of a firearm. The facts supporting the indictment were that O'Garro had been pulled over in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, during the course of a routine traffic stop, during which it was discovered that he had an outstanding warrant in New York. O'Garro was arrested and a search of his car was conducted, this search uncovered a handgun in the vehicle. O'Garro was sent back to New York pursuant to the outstanding warrant where he was subsequently sentenced to three years imprisonment. During this time, a detainer was lodged against him for the federal weapon charges pending in the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

On September 20, 2005, the United States Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania ("U.S. Attorney"), received a letter from O'Garro, which was dated June 29, 2005, requesting that he be produced for the federal detainer. (Doc. 120, at 16-17 of 37.) On November 22, 2005, the U.S. Attorney received a letter from the Five Points Correctional Facility in New York, officially requesting that O'Garro be produced on the detainer and containing all of the information required by the IAD.

After receiving this information, on December 12, 2005, the U.S. Attorney requested a writ to produce O'Garro in federal court. A writ was issued on January 9, 2006, instructing that O'Garro should appear in court on February 28, 2006.

On February 28, 2006, O'Garro made his initial appearance in federal court. At this time, he pled not guilty and the court ordered that all pretrial memoranda be filed by March 20, 2006. On March 20, 2006, O'Garro filed a motion to suppress which, after a hearing and full briefing, was denied on June 14, 2006.

On July 7, 2006, a plea agreement was filed. O'Garro entered into this agreement on July 18, 2006. O'Garro was sentenced on December 5, 2006, to eighty-six months which reflected time-served on a related state charge, and a two month credit for the period of time between the September 20, 2005 letter from O'Garro, and the November 22, 2005 official request from his place of detainment that he be produced on the detainer.

O'Garro's trial counsel represented him through his direct appeals, which were ultimately unsuccessful. On November 16, 2009, O'Garro filed a pro se motion to vacate his sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, for ineffective assistance of counsel. The government filed a brief in opposition on January 14, 2010, to which O'Garro replied on February 2, 2010. O'Garro was appointed counsel and a hearing was held on May 28, 2010. The motion is now ripe for disposition.

II. Legal Standard

Habeas Corpus relief under § 2255 is available to "prisoner[s] in custody under sentence of a court established by Act of Congress" when (1) the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or the laws of the United States, (2) the court did not have jurisdiction to impose the sentence, (3) the sentence was greater than the maximum authorized by law, or (4) the sentence is otherwise subject to collateral attack. 28 U.S.C. § 2255. If the reviewing court determines that any of these errors tainted the sentence imposed, the court must vacate and set aside the judgment. Id. Additionally, the court has discretion to discharge or resentence the prisoner as well as to grant a new trial or correct the sentence. Id.

The relief afforded by § 2255 is reserved for extraordinary situations. Prewitt v. United States, 83 F.3d 812, 816 (7th Cir. 1996) (citing Brecht v. Abrahamson, 507 U.S. 619, 633-34 (1993)). The remedy is intended only when "the claimed error of law was 'a fundamental defect which inherently results in a complete miscarriage of justice.'" Davis v. United States, 417 U.S. 333, 346 (1974) (quoting Hill v. United States, 368 U.S. 424, 428 (1962)); see also United States v. Cleary, 46 F.3d 307, 310-11 (3d Cir. 1995).

A. Strickland

Under the Sixth Amendment, criminal defendants are guaranteed the right to effective assistance of counsel in all proceedings. Yarborough v. Gentry, 540 U.S. 1, 4 (2003). Legal claims governing the ineffective assistance of counsel are governed by the Supreme Court's decision in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984). " 'An ineffective assistance claim has two components: A petitioner must show that counsel's performance was deficient, and that the deficiency prejudiced the defense.' " Wiggins v. Smith, 539 U.S. 510, 521 (2003) (quoting Strickland, 466 U.S. at 687). To establish deficient performance, a petitioner must demonstrate that counsel's representation "fell below an objective standard of reasonableness." Strickland, 466 U.S. at 688. To establish prejudice, a "defendant must show that there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different. A reasonable probability is a probability sufficient to ...


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