United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
M. MUNLEY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.
the court for disposition is Defendant Shaliek Stroman's
28 U.S.C. § 2255 (hereinafter “section
2255”) motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his
sentence. (Doc. 411). The motion has been fully briefed and
is ripe for disposition.
October 14, 2014, a grand jury charged defendant with four
(4) counts of drug trafficking in violation of 21 U.S.C.
§ 841(a)(1). (Doc. 36). On January 4, 2016, defendant
plead guilty to one count, conspiracy to distribute and
possess with intent to distribute heroin, a Schedule I
controlled substance, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841.
(Doc. 266). The government dismissed the remaining counts.
The court sentenced defendant to a term of 151 months
followed by three (3) years of supervised release.
(Id.) On January 15, 2016, defendant appealed the
judgment (Doc. 275). The Third Circuit Court of Appeals
affirmed the judgment on February 1, 2017. United States
v. Stroman, 677 Fed. App'x 746 (3d Cir. 2017). On
April 15, 2017, defendant filed the present motion to vacate
under section 2255. (Doc. 411). The parties have briefed
their respective positions, bringing the case to its current
defendant brings his motion under section 2255, we have
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 (“The district
courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions
arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the
United States.”). We also have jurisdiction under 28
U.S.C. § 2241 (“Writs of habeas corpus may be
granted by...the district courts[.]”).
a federal prisoner in custody under the sentence of a federal
court may, within one year from when the judgment becomes
final, move the sentencing court to “vacate, set aside,
or correct” a sentence “imposed in violation of
the Constitution or laws of the United States.” 28
U.S.C. § 2255(a). A section 2255 motion may attack a
federal prisoner's sentence on any of the following
foundations: (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. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(b).
2255 does not, however, afford a remedy for all errors that
may have been made at trial or sentencing. United States
v. Essig, 10 F.3d 968, 977 n.25 (3d Cir. 1993). Rather,
section 2255 permits relief for an error of law or fact
constituting a “fundamental defect which inherently
results in a complete miscarriage of justice.”
United States v. Eakman, 378 F.3d 294, 298 (3d Cir.
2004) (citing United States v. Addonizio, 442 U.S.
178, 185 (1979)). If the court determines that the sentence
was not authorized by law, was unconstitutional, or is
otherwise open to collateral attack, the court must vacate
the judgment, resentence the prisoner, or grant the prisoner
a new trial as appropriate. See 28 U.S.C. §
habeas petitioner may allege ineffective assistance of
counsel in a 2255 motion even if he did not raise it on
direct appeal. See Massaro v. United States, 538
U.S. 500, 504 (2003). Nevertheless after a legal argument has
been decided adversely to a defendant in trial court and on
direct appeal, declining to reconsider those same arguments
raised in a subsequent section 2255 collateral proceeding is
within a district court's discretion, United States
v. Orejuela, 639 F.2d 1055, 1057 (3d Cir. 1981).
of review for ineffective assistance of counsel
motion raises issues of ineffectiveness of counsel. The Sixth
Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees
criminal defendants the right to counsel. The United States
Supreme Court has found that “‘the right to
counsel is the right to the effective assistance of
counsel.'” Strickland v. Washington, 466
U.S. 668, 686 (1984) (quoting McMann v. Richardson,
397 U.S. 759, 771, n.14 (1970)). Counsel is ineffective when
“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.
under Strickland, to prove that his counsel was
deficient at trial or sentencing, a defendant must convince
the court of two factors: 1) deficient performance by
counsel; and 2) prejudice from that deficient performance.
“First, the defendant must show that counsel's
performance was deficient.” Id. at 687.
Satisfying the first factor requires a “showing that
counsel made errors so serious that counsel was not
functioning as the ‘counsel' guaranteed the
defendant by the Sixth Amendment.” Id.
Substandard lawyering is not enough to obtain relief. In
assessing an attorney's performance, courts apply a
highly deferential level of scrutiny. See
Marshall v. Cathel, 428 F.3d 452, 462 (3d Cir. 2005)
(quoting Strickland, 466 U.S. at 689). This
deference is afforded because “counsel is strongly
presumed to have rendered adequate assistance and made all
significant decisions in the exercise of reasonable
professional judgment.” Strickland, 466 U.S.
satisfy the second factor of the Strickland test,
“the defendant must show that the deficient performance
prejudiced the defense” by demonstrating that
“counsel's errors were so serious as to deprive the
defendant of a fair trial, a trial whose result is
reliable.” Id. Put another way, “the
party claiming ineffective assistance ‘must show that
there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's
unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would
have been different.'” Campbell v. Burris,
515 F.3d 172, 184 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting
Strickland, 422 U.S. at 694). “‘It is
not enough for the defendant to show that the errors had some
conceivable effect on the outcome of the proceedings...not
every error that conceivably could have influenced the
outcome undermines the reliability of ...