United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
March 31, 2015
CARL R. STITT, Petitioner,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent. Crim. Action No. 12-45
CATHY BISSOON, District Judge.
For the reasons that follow, Carl R. Stitt's Petition under Section 2255 will be denied. Petitioner was sentenced before this Court, after having entered a plea agreement in which he waived his rights to appeal the sentence or to bring a collateral attack under Section 2255. During the Change of Plea Hearing, the Government specifically highlighted the 2255-waiver, and the Court question and confirmed Petitioner's understanding of the same. See Doc. 53 at pgs. 18-19. Petitioner currently does not dispute the validity of the waiver, whether based on knowingness, voluntariness or otherwise, and the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has enforced the same waiver provisions in Petitioner's direct appeal. See Doc. 82 (3rd Cir. Ct.'s Mandate, summarily granting government's Motion to Enforce Appellate Waiver). The question, here, is whether the collateral attack provisions of the waiver likewise should be enforced.
In this Circuit, waivers of habeas relief will be enforced so long as they are knowing and voluntarily made and their enforcement will not work a miscarriage of justice. See U.S. v. Mabry, 536 F.3d 231, 241-42 (3d Cir. 2008). Petitioner does not level meaningful challenges in these regards, and the Court of Appeals has, under the circumstances presented, summarily enforced such waivers. See, e.g., U.S. v. Done, 589 Fed.Appx. 49, 51 (3d Cir. Jan. 21, 2015) ("if [the defendant had] wanted to preserve these claims, he should have attempted to negotiate a conditional guilty plea rather than entering an unconditional guilty plea [and waiver]").
The Petition in this case does not call these conclusions into question. Rather, Petitioner acknowledges his 2255-waiver, but claims that his "rights were restored... when it came down that any person convicted of a federal crime [has] the right to file for ineffective assistance of counsel under [Section] 2255." See Doc. 1 at 12. Petitioner offers no legal authority in support of this proposition, nor is the Court aware of any. Although the standard practices in this District recently have been modified to exclude collateral-attack waivers from plea agreements, this says nothing regarding the enforcement of waivers in preexisting agreements.
In this case, Petitioner makes no argument that his counsel were ineffective by negotiating a plea agreement including a 2255-waiver. See Doc. 1. He has failed to articulate any meaningful grounds for concluding that counsel's legal representation fell short of "objective reasonableness." Indeed, any such suggestion is fundamentally inconsistent with his request that the lawyer in question be appointed to represent him in this Section 2255 action. See Doc. 87. Petitioner has not leveled a coherent ineffective-assistance challenge, and, therefore, this issue has no bearing on the enforceability of the waiver.
In sum, Petitioner has neither suggested nor shown that his 2255-waiver was unknowingly or involuntarily made, or that its enforcement will result in a miscarriage of justice. Accordingly, the waiver is effective, and it bars this collateral action. Thus, Petitioner's Motion under Section 2255 (Doc. 1) is DENIED, and for the same reasons, his Motion (Doc. 87) for appointment of counsel is DENIED. Finally, no certificate of appealability will issue because jurists of reason would not find the Court's conclusions debatable. See Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484 (2000).
IT IS SO ORDERED.