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United States of America v. Glen Guadalupe.

January 3, 2013

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
GLEN GUADALUPE.



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

MEMORANDUM

Glen Guadalupe filed a petition for a writ of error coram nobis, requesting that the court vacate his conviction for obstruction of justice under 18 U.S.C. § 1512(b)(3). For the reasons discussed below, Guadalupe's petition for a writ of error coram nobis will be denied.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY*fn1

On March 11, 1999, Dante Hunter,*fn2 an inmate at Curran Fromhold Correctional Facility ("CFCF"), was beaten by two correctional officers, Reginald Steptoe and Cornell Tyler. At the time of the beating, Guadalupe was the Deputy Warden of Operations at CFCF. Linda Burnette, a correctional lieutenant at the time of the beating, testified at trial that she witnessed Steptoe and Tyler punch and beat Hunter. Additionally, she testified that she commanded Steptoe and Tyler to stop harming Hunter; however, they refused to do so. At trial, several witnesses corroborated Burnette's testimony.

Shortly after Burnette witnessed the beating, she notified her supervisor, Captain Winston Boston, about the beating and informed him that Steptoe and Tylerignored her command to stop. After she left Captain Boston, Burnette went to see Guadalupe to report the incident. Burnette testified that Guadalupe responded to her information about the incident by stating that the officers involved were "going to burn" for what happened. However, when Burnette told Guadalupe that Steptoe and Tyler were responsible for the beating, Guadalupe's position changed. He responded to her allegations by stating "they can't burn ...they are my boys, my homies."

After this initial conversation with Guadalupe, Burnette returned to the prison unit. Later, Guadalupe, Boston, and Burnette resumed discussion of the beating. At this meeting, Guadalupe stated that he had informed the officers involved in the beating that "someone had to come up with an injury to justify the amount of force" used on Hunter. Additionally, Guadalupe instructed Burnett that in her memorandum about the beating she should not mention that she had ordered the officers to stop.

Burnette testified that because she felt intimidated and was afraid to "go against the grain," she lied in her written statement to Captain Boston and in her first two statements to Internal Affairs. On March 21, 1999, Burnette called Warden Walter Dunleavy and told him that she had lied about the beating. Two days later, on March 23, 1999, she gave a full statement to Internal Affairs.

Guadalupe went to trial on April 15, 2002. On May 1, 2002, the jury found Guadalupe guilty of one count of obstruction of justice, under 18 U.S.C. § 1512(b)(3), based on his conduct toward Burnette. On August 8, 2003, I sentenced Guadalupe to fifteen months of imprisonment, two years of supervised release, a fine of $300, and a special assessment of $100. Guadalupe appealed the conviction and argued that (1) the jury's verdict was not supported by legally sufficient evidence; and (2) that the district court erred in instructing the jury by failing to define "corruptly persuades." On March 31, 2005, the Third Circuit affirmed. Guadalupe, 402 F.3d at 409. Guadalupe filed a writ of certiorari, which was denied by the United States Supreme Court on May 1, 2006. Guadalupe v. United States, 547 U.S. 1123 (2006).*fn3 Guadalupe brings this petition for a writ of error coram nobis in light of the recent decision by the Supreme Court in Fowler v. United States, 131 S. Ct. 2045 (2011).

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

The writ of error coram nobis is a form of relief available to federal courts in criminal matters under the All Writs Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1651(a). See United States v. Morgan, 346 U.S. 502, 511 (1954). A writ of error coram nobis is only "used to attack allegedly invalid convictions which have continuing consequences, when the petitioner has served his sentence and is no longer 'in custody' for purposes of 28 U.S.C.A. § 2255." United States v. Stoneman, 870 F.2d 102, 105-06 (3d Cir. 1989). Additionally, the error must be fundamental to justify the extraordinary relief. See id. at 106.

Because of the court's interest in the finality of judgments, the standard for a writ of coram nobis is more stringent than both the standard applicable on direct appeal and the standard applicable for a petitioner seeking habeas corpus relief under § 2255. Id. The writ is so extraordinary that the Supreme Court commented that "it is difficult to conceive of a situation in a federal criminal case today where [a writ of coram nobis] would be necessary or appropriate." Carlisle v. United States, 517 U.S. 416, 429 (1996). Thus, "an error which could be remedied by a new trial, such as an error in jury instructions, does not normally come within the writ." Stoneman, 870 F.2d at 106. Additionally, "earlier proceedings are presumptively correct and the petitioner bears the burden to show otherwise." Id.

Because coram nobis is an extraordinary remedy, to establish a right to relief the petitioner must fulfill several requirements. First, the petitioner must show that although he is no longer in custody for the purposes of § 2255, he continues to suffer collateral consequences from his allegedly invalid conviction. Id. at 105-06. Additionally, the petitioner must show that there was no remedy available at trial and that there were sound reasons for not seeking relief earlier. Id. at 106. Finally, the petitioner must prove that the writ is necessary to correct a fundamental error. Id.

III. DISCUSSION

Guadalupe argues that he has satisfied the strict requirements for a writ of error coram nobis. However, I conclude that the jury was properly instructed under Fowler and that there was sufficient evidence at trial to convict Guadalupe under 18 U.S.C. ยง 1512(b)(3). Thus, there is no fundamental error or an invalid ...


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