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United States of America v. Syeed Briggs

July 8, 2011

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
SYEED BRIGGS



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

MEMORANDUM

I. INTRODUCTION

Petitioner Syeed Briggs was convicted in 2007 of one count of conspiracy to commit armed bank robbery (Count I), two counts of armed bank robbery (Counts II and IV), and two counts of aiding and abetting the carrying and use of a firearm during a crime of violence (Counts III and V). On March 25, 2008, Briggs was sentenced by this Court to 384 months and one day of imprisonment. Presently before the Court is Briggs‟s pro se Motion Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody. For the reasons that follow, the motion is denied.

II. BACKGROUND

The background of this case is set forth in detail in United States v. Briggs, No. 06-715-1, 2008 WL 1745661 (E.D. Pa. Apr. 14, 2008) and United States v. Briggs, 347 F. App‟x 750 (3d Cir. 2009). Accordingly, the Court recites only those facts necessary to explain its ruling.

On December 19, 2006, a federal grand jury returned a five-count Indictment against Briggs and two co-conspirators, Markeem Fuller and Alfreddie Postell. The charges arose out of the armed robberies of the American Heritage Federal Credit Union in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, and the Nova Savings Bank in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, on September 28, 2006 and October 16, 2006, respectively.

After Fuller and Postell pleaded guilty, Briggs was charged on November 6, 2007 in a Superseding Indictment with conspiracy to commit bank robbery in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371 (Count I); bank robbery with a dangerous weapon, and aiding and abetting the same, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(d) and 2 (Counts II and IV); and using and carrying a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, and aiding and abetting the same, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 924(c)(1) and 2 (Counts III and V).

On October 12, 2007, Briggs filed a motion to suppress physical evidence seized from his apartment and car and a motion to suppress inculpatory statements he made to law enforcement officers. The Court held a hearing on the motions on October 29 and 30, 2007. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Court ruled from the Bench and denied Briggs‟s motions. The Court articulated several reasons for its ruling, and stated that it would supplement its oral ruling with a written opinion in the event Briggs filed a notice of appeal. The case proceeded to a jury trial, and on November 19, 2007, the jury found Briggs guilty on all counts.

On March 25, 2008, the Court imposed a sentence of 384 months and one day imprisonment. Briggs timely filed an appeal, and on April 11, 2008, the Court issued a written Memorandum explaining and supplementing its October 30, 2007 oral ruling denying Briggs‟s motions to suppress physical evidence and inculpatory statements. See Briggs, 2008 WL 1745661. On October 1, 2009, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed Briggs‟s conviction and sentence. Briggs then filed a petition for rehearing before the Court of Appeals, which was denied on October 26, 2009. On November 27, 2009, Briggs filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the United States Supreme Court, which was denied on March 29, 2010.

III. DISCUSSION

Briggs sets forth four claims in his pro se § 2255 motion. Three of those claims (Grounds I, II, and IV) allege ineffective assistance of counsel on the grounds that counsel failed to: (1) raise certain arguments to suppress evidence seized during the search of Briggs‟s apartment on October 25, 2006; (2) raise certain arguments to suppress statements made by Briggs after his arrest; and (3) introduce at trial letters purportedly written by Briggs‟s co-conspirators exonerating Briggs of the charged crimes. In his final claim (Ground III), Briggs alleges that the government engaged in prosecutorial misconduct by purportedly withholding exculpatory statements made by one of Briggs‟s co-conspirators, Bruce Jackson. The Court addresses each of Briggs‟s claims in turn.

A.Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

1. Legal Standard "Strickland v. Washington supplies the standard for addressing a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel." United States v. Smack, 347 F.3d 533, 537 (3d Cir. 2003) (citing Strickland, 466 U.S. 668, 687 (1984)). "The benchmark for judging any claim of ineffectiveness must be whether counsel‟s conduct so undermined the proper functioning of the adversarial process that the trial cannot be relied on as having produced a just result." Strickland, 466 U.S. at 686.

This standard requires a two-part inquiry. "First, the defendant must show that counsel‟s performance was deficient," that is, "that counsel‟s representation fell below an objective standard of reasonableness." Id. at 687-88. The measure for counsel‟s performance under the first prong of Strickland is "whether counsel‟s assistance was reasonable considering all the circumstances" including "prevailing professional norms." Id. at 687-88. "Second, the defendant must show that [counsel‟s] deficient performance prejudiced the defense." Id. at 687. To establish prejudice, the defendant must demonstrate ...


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