The opinion of the court was delivered by: Donetta W. Ambrose Senior Judge, United States District Court
In this action, Defendant was sentenced for conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute 100kg or more of marijuana and conspiracy to launder monetary instruments in violation of 21 U.S.C. ' 846 and 18 U.S.C. ' 1965(h). The Court of Appeals affirmed his conviction on July 16, 2010. Defendant was sentenced to 97 months in prison. Before the Court is Defendant's Motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ' 2255, alleging that counsel was ineffective for failing to raise the statute of limitations and the speedy trial act; failing to strike a biased juror; and failing to adequately advise him of the facts and law relevant to his decision not to plead guilty.
For the following reasons, the Motion will be denied in part, and a hearing held on the remainder.
A district court need not hold an evidentiary hearing on a Section 2255 motion if the motion, files, and records show conclusively that the defendant is not entitled to relief. United States v.Ritter, 93 Fed. Appx. 402 (3d Cir. 2004). Under these standards, a hearing is unnecessary on the majority of Defendant's Motion on the record. As regards his claim that counsel was ineffective with respect to advising him of his plea options and consequences thereof, a hearing is required.
Relief is available under Section 2255 only under exceptional circumstances, when the claimed errors of law are "a fundamental defect which inherently results in a complete miscarriage of justice," or "an omission inconsistent with the rudimentary demands of fair procedure." Hill v. United States, 368 U.S. 424, 428, 82 S. Ct. 468, 7 L.Ed. 2d 417 (1962). "A person seeking to vacate his conviction bears the burden of proof upon each ground presented for relief." United States v. Keyes, No. 93-22-2, 1997 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12109, at *2 (E. D. Pa. Aug. 11, 1997).
Finally, a pro se pleading is held to less stringent standards than pleadings drafted by attorneys. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106, 97, 97 S. Ct. 285, 50 L. Ed. 2d 251 s. ct. 285, 429 U.S. 97, 97 S. Ct. 285, 50 L. Ed. 2d 251 (1976); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520, 92 S. Ct. 594, 30 L. Ed. 2d 652 (1972). Thus, a pro se habeas petition should be construed liberally. See Royce v. Hahn, 151 F.3d 116, 118 (3d Cir. 1998). I will consider Defendant's Motion according to these standards.
The Government contends that because Defendant did not raise any of his present contentions on direct appeal, those contentions are defaulted. A Section 2255 Motion is not a substitute for appellate review. Thus, any issues not raised on direct review are procedurally defaulted, unless Defendant can show valid cause for the default, and prejudice resulting from the default. United States v. Frady, 456 U.S. 152, 168, 102 S.Ct. 1584, 71 L Ed. 2d 816 (1982). He must show "actual prejudice," which refers to errors that "worked to his actual and substantial disadvantage, infecting his entire trial with error of constitutional dimensions." Dickens v. United States, No. 3-3953, 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36432 (D.N.J. Dec. 27, 2005). In this case, Defendant does not establish cause for the default. In addition, as discussed infra, he has not demonstrated the required prejudice in all instances. On the other hand, Defendant grounds his claims in ineffective assistance of counsel, and "[t]here is no procedural default for failure to raise an ineffective assistance claim on direct appeal." Massaro v. United States, 538 U.S. 500, 503-04, 123 S. Ct. 1690, 155 L. Ed. 2d 714 (2003); United States v. DeRewal, 10 F.3d 100, 103-04 (3d Cir. 1993). Thus, I address each of the claims in turn.
B. INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL
In the context of an ineffective assistance of counsel claim, a court should be "highly deferential" when evaluating an attorney's conduct; there is a "strong presumption" that the attorney's performance was reasonable. Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 689 (1984). "It is... only the rare claim of ineffectiveness of counsel that should succeed under the properly deferential standard to be applied in scrutinizing counsel's performance." United States v. Gray, 878 F. 2d 702, 711 (3d Cir. 1989). Both trial and appellate counsel are governed by the same standards. See Smith v. Robbins, 528 U.S. 259, 285-86, 120 S. Ct. 746, 145 L. Ed. 2d 756 (2000). In order to ...