The opinion of the court was delivered by: Eduardo C. Robreno, J.
Otto Barbour ("Petitioner") is a federal prisoner incarcerated at FCI-Allenwood Medium. Petitioner filed a motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 seeking a correction of his sentence and reversal of his conviction.*fn1 The Court must decide whether the exercise of a peremptory challenge to exclude an African-American juror by Petitioner‟s counsel violated the Equal Protection Clause and whether Petitioner was denied effective assistance of counsel in violation of the Sixth Amendment. For the reasons set forth below, the Court answers both questions in the negative and will deny Petitioner‟s motion.
On December 20, 2000, a jury convicted Petitioner of conspiracy to distribute more than fifty grams of crack in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846 ("Count One"), distribution of crack in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841 ("Count Seven"), and distribution of crack within 1,000 feet of a public housing project in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 860 ("Count Fourteen"). Doc. no. 203. This Court granted Petitioner‟s post-trial motion for a judgment of acquittal on Count 1. Doc. no. 251. On September 5, 2001, the Court sentenced Petitioner to 235 months imprisonment, a 6-year term of supervised release, and a special assessment of $200.*fn2
Following Petitioner‟s direct appeals,*fn3 the case returned to this Court for re-sentencing. The Court ultimately sentenced Petitioner to 187 months incarceration, 6 years of supervised release, and a $200 special assessment.
Petitioner again appealed the sentence up the chain of federal courts. The Third Circuit affirmed the 187-month sentence. See United States v. Barbour, 286 F.App‟x 802, 803 (3d Cir. 2008). And the Supreme Court denied certiorari. Barbour v. United States, 130 S. Ct. 309, 310 (2009). Petitioner‟s judgment became final on January 11, 2010, when the Supreme Court denied a rehearing. Barbour v. United States, 130 S. Ct. 1126 (2010). On January 8, 2011, Petitioner timely filed a motion for relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (2006).*fn4
Petitioner asserted four grounds for relief: (1) that Petitioner‟s counsel exercised a peremptory challenge in violation of the Equal Protection Clause; (2) that Petitioner was deprived of effective assistance of counsel on appeal; (3) that Petitioner was deprived of effective assistance of counsel at trial; and (4) that Petitioner was deprived of effective assistance of counsel on remand. Doc. no. 663. The Court will deny Petitioner‟s equal protection and ineffective assistance of counsel claims and not issue a certificate of appealability.
A federal prisoner claiming a right to be released based on a violation of the U.S. Constitution or laws of the United States may move the court that imposed the sentence to vacate, set aside, or correct the sentence. See 28 U.S.C. § 2255. In a Section 2255 motion, a federal prisoner may attack his sentence on any of the following grounds: (1) "the judgment was rendered without jurisdiction"; (2) "the sentence imposed was not authorized by law or otherwise open to collateral attack"; or (3) "there has been such a denial or infringement of the constitutional rights of the prisoner as to render the judgment vulnerable to collateral attack." See id. § 2255(b).
The four grounds for relief raised by Petitioner here all assert infringement of Petitioner‟s constitutional rights. The Court will first consider Petitioner‟s equal protection claim. Next, the Court will consider all of Petitioner‟s ineffective assistance of counsel claims. Upon review of Petitioner‟s motion, the Government‟s response, Petitioner‟s opposition, and the record, it plainly appears that Petitioner is not entitled to relief. Therefore, the Court will deny the Section 2255 Motion without a hearing.
A petitioner is entitled to an evidentiary hearing as to the merits of his claim unless it is clear from the record that he is not entitled to relief.*fn5 And the Court must dismiss the motion "[i]f it plainly appears from the motion, any attached exhibits, and the record of prior proceedings that the moving party is not entitled to relief." R. Governing § 2255 Proceedings for the U.S. District Courts 4(b)[hereinafter "Section 2255 Rule"].
A prisoner‟s pro se pleading is construed liberally. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam); Huertas v. Galaxy Asset Mgmt., 641 F.3d 28, 32 (3d Cir. 2011). And a federal prisoner‟s grounds for relief are not subject to the exhaustion requirement ...