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Dennis v. Upton

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

July 11, 2019

JODY R. UPTON, Warden, FMC-Fort Worth, Respondent.



         Before the Court is federal prisoner Jacqueline Dennis's (“Dennis”) petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 (ECF No. 3), the FMC-Carswell Warden's response (ECF No. 7), and Dennis's reply and supplemental reply. (ECF Nos. 9, 16).[1] After considering Dennis's petition, the record, related briefing, and applicable law, the Court concludes that Dennis's § 2241 petition should be and is hereby DISMISSED for lack of jurisdiction.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Dennis and co-defendant Henry Francis were convicted in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida of conspiracy to commit second degree murder of a federal official, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1117 and 1114, and six counts of using interstate and foreign commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1958. J. United States v.

         Dennis, No. 8:93-cr-304-T-23 (M.D. Fla. May 6, 1996), ECF No. 348.[2] She was sentenced to 365 months' imprisonment. Id. Dennis's conviction and sentence were affirmed on direct appeal to the Eleventh Circuit. United States v. Francis, Et Al., 131 F.3d 1452 (11th Cir. 1997). Dennis's first § 2255 motion as amended raised forty-three claims of ineffective assistance of counsel, but that motion was denied by the same district judge who presided over her jury trial. March 6, 200 Order, United States v. Dennis, No. 8:99-cv-674-T-23B, ECF No. 6. In denying the motion, the district judge recounted the unusual background facts that resulted in Dennis's trial and convictions:

On May 10, 1993, Defendant Dennis'co-defendant, Henry Francis, was arrested for conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine in No. 93-158-Cr-T-25B. Rendiff Green and Amanda Wilson were also arrested for participating in the same offense. Ernest Hardy, who was cooperating with law enforcement officials at the time, witnessed the transactions that resulted in the arrests of Francis and his co-defendants. D.E.A. Task Force Agent Lawrence Bahnsen made the arrests. The case was then assigned to Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) Kevin Darken to handle the prosecution.
Agent Bahnsen and AUSA Darken were present at Francis' initial appearance. From the beginning, AUSA Darken opposed Francis' request to be released on bond. Agent Bahnsen testified in support of AUSA Darken's position, describing Francis' involvement in the charged narcotics transactions. Agent Bahnsen testified further that, following his arrest, Francis voluntarily waived his right to remain silent and had admitted his involvement in two crack cocaine sales to a confidential informant, Ernest Hardy. The United States Magistrate Judge ordered Francis detained.
On May 25, 1993, new counsel for Francis filed a motion for reconsideration of the Court's detention order. AUSA Darken opposed the motion, and, on June 2, 1993, the United States Magistrate Judge denied the emotion. Rendiff Green, Francis' co-defendant in the drug case, had brokered the drug transaction with Ernest Hardy that had led to the arrests of Green and Francis. While imprisoned with Green, Francis informed Green that he was plotting to kill Agent Bahnsen, AUSA Darken, and Hardy. Francis told Green that he wanted to kill Agent Bahnsen because Agent Bahnsen had testified untruthfully about Francis at the detention hearing and the he wanted to kill AUSA Darken because AUSA Darken was “corrupt” and had argued against bond for Francis. Francis told Green that Francis would get “Mauler, ” one of his Jamaican associates, to commit the murders, and that he was trying to raise money to pay Mauler for the job. However, after learning that Mauler wanted payment up front, Francis decided to bring in other Jamaicans to commit the murders. Knowing that Green had experience with false documents, Francis asked Green to obtain United States' passports for the Jamaicans to use to travel to the United States.
After learning of Francis' intention, Green told Agent Bahnsen, who put Green in contact with Agent Thomas of the Federal bureau of Investigation (FBI). On September 8, 1993, Green told Agent Thomas that Francis wanted Agent Bahnsen and AUSA Darken murdered. Agent Thomas told Green to go along with Francis and to tell Francis that Green could obtain United States' passports for the Jamaicans.
After corroborating the information provided by Green, the FBI prepared an Application for a Title II wire interception to monitor the calls made by Francis from the telephone at the jail. The Order authorizing the wire interception was signed on September 22, 1993.
Also, as a result of this information, another AUSA was assigned to handle Francis' narcotics prosecution. However, to avoid subjecting the new AUSA to any potential danger, AUSA Darken continued to sign all papers in the case. AUSA Darken was assigned 24-hour armed United States Marshals Service protection. Detective Richard Archie, a native speaker of Jamaican patois, was set up as the“source” for false passports and other documents. Agent Thomas gave Green a telephone number for Detective Archie, who was going by the name “A.G.” and Green passed this information along to Francis, who contacted Detective Archie. Detective Archie was instructed to tell Francis that the passports would be $500 each. Eventually, however, Francis suggested that “A.G.” commit the murders, and Detective Archie agreed to the plan.
From conversations with Francis, Detective Archie understood that the $500 that Francis had intended to put towards passports would instead be an initial payment for “A.G.” to commit the murders. Francis told Detective Archie that his “baby mother, ” Jacqueline Dennis, the Defendant in the present case, would furnish Detective Archie with additional information about the intended targets. Defendant Dennis later contacted Detective Archie a number of times with information.
In September 1993, AUSA Darken saw a suspicious -looking car drive slowly back and forth past his home. An African-American woman was driving and a teenage African-American male was in the passenger seat. A neighbor later told AUSA Darken that he had seen the same care behind AUSA Darken's house.
Also, in September, a woman telephoned AUSA Darken's home and claimed to be from the United States Marshals Service answering service. She asked to speak with one of the marshals, and AUSA Darken called one of the marshals to the telephone. When the marshal picked up the telephone, however, no one was there. Records of the United States Marshals Service answering service revealed that the answering service had not placed the call.
During a later search of Defendant Dennis's home, Agent Thomas found in the bedroom a copy of the criminal complaint in United States v. Henry Francis, Rendiff Green, and Amanda Wilson, Dist. Ct. No. 93-158-Cr-T-25B. Handwritten on the document in pencil was personal information about Agent Bahnsen and AUSA Darken, including Darken's home address and telephone number. Defendant Dennis had obtained the information for “A.G.” On May 12, 2994, Defendants Dennis, Henry Francis and others, were indicted by a Second Superseding Indictment charging one count on conspiracy to murder a federal officer engaged in, and on account of, the performance of his official duty, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1117 and 1114 (Count One); nine counts of use of interstate and foreign commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1958 (Counts Two through Ten); and one count of solicitation to commit a ...

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