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Braddock v. United States

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Fort Worth Division

April 10, 2019




         Came on for consideration the motion of Brandi Lee Braddock ("movant") under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to vacate, set aside, or correct sentence. After having considered the motion (including additional type-written pages attached thereto), the government's response, and pertinent parts of the record in No. 4:17-CR-161-A, styled "United States of America v. Brandi Lee Braddock," the court has concluded that the motion should be denied.

         I. Background

         Information contained in the record of the underlying criminal case discloses the following:

         On September 20, 2017, movant was named in a one-count information charging her with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 84 6. CR Doc.[1] 76. On October 4, 2017, movant appeared before the court with the intent to enter a plea of guilty to the offense charged without benefit of a plea agreement. CR Doc. 80. Movant and her attorney signed a factual resume setting forth the elements of the offense, the maximum penalty movant faced, and the stipulated facts supporting movant's guilt. CR Doc. 83. Movant and counsel also signed a waiver of indictment. CR Doc. 82. Under oath, movant stated that no one had made any promise or assurance of any kind to induce her to plead guilty. Further, movant stated her understanding that the guideline range was advisory and was one of many sentencing factors the court could consider; that the guideline range could not be calculated until the presentence report (“PSR") was prepared; the court could impose a sentence more severe than the sentence recommended by the advisory guidelines and movant would be bound by her guilty plea; movant was satisfied with her counsel and had no complaints regarding her representation; and, movant and counsel had reviewed the factual resume and movant understood the meaning of everything in it and the stipulated facts were true. CR Doc. 106.

         The probation officer prepared a PSR reflecting that movant's base offense level was 32. CR Doc. 86, ¶ 30. Movant received three two-level enhancements for possession of a firearm, id. ¶ 31, importation of methamphetamine from Mexico, Id. ¶ 32, and maintaining a premises for manufacturing or distributing a controlled substance, id. ¶ 33. She additionally-received a two-level enhancement for obstruction of justice. Id. ¶ 36. She received a two-level and a one-level adjustment for acceptance of responsibility. Id. ¶¶ 39-40. Based on a total offense level of 37 and a criminal history category of IV, movant's guideline range was 292 to 365 months, but the range became 24 0 months, the statutorily authorized sentence. Id. ¶ 95. Movant objected and the probation officer filed an addendum to the PSR. CR Doc. 91. In addition, the probation officer prepared a second addendum to the PSR following receipt of laboratory documents from the government confirming the weight and presence of methamphetamine, not its purity. CR Doc. 96.

         On February 16, 2018, movant was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 200 months. CR Doc. 100. The court heard testimony in support of the government's motion for downward departure and granted movant a 40-month reduction for her cooperation. CR Doc. 107 at 19. The court noted that it would have imposed "at least that much of a sentence" even if she had not received the two-level increase for obstruction of justice. Id. Movant did not appeal.

         II. Grounds of the Motion

         Movant asserts four grounds in support of her motion, all complaining of ineffective assistance of counsel. Doc.[2] 1. First, she says her attorney failed to object to her being charged with actual methamphetamine. Id. at PageID[3] 3. Second, her attorney failed to make objections to the PSR that movant wanted him to make. Id. at PageID 4. Third, her attorney failed to have movant's pretrial time count towards her incarceration. Id. at PageID 5. And, fourth, her attorney failed to object to the incorrect number of criminal history points. Id. at PageID 7.

         III. Standards of Review

         A. 28 U.S.C. § 2255

         After conviction and exhaustion, or waiver, of any right to appeal, courts are entitled to presume that a defendant stands fairly and finally convicted. United States v. Frady, 456 U.S. 152, 164-165 (1982}; United States v. Shaid, 937 F.2d 228, 231-32 (5th Cir. 1991). A defendant can challenge his conviction or sentence after it is presumed final on issues of constitutional or jurisdictional magnitude only, and may not raise an issue for the first time on collateral review without showing both "cause" for his procedural default and "actual prejudice" resulting from the errors. Shaid, 937 F.2d at 232.

         Section 2255 does not offer recourse to all who suffer trial errors. It is reserved for transgressions of constitutional rights and other narrow injuries that could not have been raised on direct appeal and would, if condoned, result in a complete miscarriage of justice. United States v. Capua, 656 F.2d 1033, 1037 (5th Cir. Unit A Sept. 1981). In other words, a writ of habeas corpus will not be allowed to do service for an appeal. Davis v. United States, 417 U.S. 333, 345 (1974); United States v. Placente, 81 F.3d 555, 558 (5th Cir. 1996). Further, if issues "are raised and considered on direct appeal, a defendant is thereafter precluded from urging the same issues in a later collateral attack." Moore v. United States, 598 F.2d 439, 441 (5th Cir. 1979) (citing Buckelew v. United States, 575 F.2d 515, 517-18 (5th Cir. 1978)).

         B. Ineffective ...

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