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Newton v. United States

United States District Court, N.D. Texas

August 30, 2019

DAMEYON ANTOINE NEWTON, Movant,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JOHN McBRYDE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Came on for consideration the motion of Daraeyon Antoine Newton, movant, under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to vacate, set aside, or correct sentence. After having considered the motion, the memorandum of points and authorities in support, the government's response, the reply, and pertinent parts of the record in No. 4:16-CR-060-A, styled "United States of America v. Dameyon Antoine Newton," 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 March 16, 2016, movant was named in a one-count indictment charging him with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a mixture and substance containing cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846. CR Doc.[1] 11. On June 3, 2016, 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. 20. Movant and his 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. 21. Under oath, movant stated that no one had made any promise or assurance of any kind to induce him to plead guilty. Further, movant stated his 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 his guilty plea; movant was satisfied with his counsel and had no complaints regarding his 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 and correct. CR Doc. 72.

         The probation officer prepared the PSR reflecting that movant's base offense level was 32. CR Doc. 24. ¶ 34. He received a two-level increase for possession of firearms, id. ¶ 35, a two-level increase for maintaining a drug premises, id. ¶ 36, a two-level increase for being an organizer, leader, manager or supervisor, id. ¶ 38, and a two-level increase for obstruction of justice, id. ¶ 39. He received a two-level and a one-level decrease for acceptance of responsibility. Id. ¶¶ 42, 43. Based on a total offense level of 37 and a criminal history category of III, movant's guideline range was 2 62 to 327 months. Id. ¶ 115. However, the statutorily authorized maximum sentence was 2 0 years, so the guideline term became 240 months. Id. Movant filed objections, CR Doc. 26, and the probation officer prepared an addendum to the PSR, rejecting movant's objections. CR Doc. 28. By order signed October 24, 2016, the court notified the parties that it had tentatively concluded that movant's objections to the PSR were without merit. CR Doc. 34.

         On October 14, 2016, movant, acting pro se, filed a motion to withdraw his plea.[2] CR Doc. 29. By order signed that same day, the court ordered the motion stricken from the record inasmuch as movant was represented by attorney Warren St. John ("St. John"). CR Doc. 30. On October 24, 2016, movant, proceeding pro se, filed a motion to relieve/ withdraw counsel. CR Doc. 35. The court again struck the motion. CR Doc. 36, The court also ordered St. John to meet in person with movant to attempt to resolve whatever problems might exist between them and to file a report detailing their meeting. Id. St. John filed a report regarding the meeting. CR Doc. 37. He also filed on behalf of movant a motion to withdraw his plea. CR Doc. 39. The motion stated:

1. Newton was arrest[ed] by the Drug Enforcement Administration on February 22, 2016. Newton was debriefed by TFO Derrick Lopez regarding information he might have regarding other drug activities.
2. Newton was told by TFO Lopez that if he cooperated none of the information would be used against him at his sentencing, other than the drugs found on his person at his arrest.
3. Newton believes he was tricked by TFO Lopez into debriefing with the DEA because the information he provided to the DEA has been used to determine what his guideline range is.
4. Newton wishes to withdraw his plea of guilt based on the above stated reasons.

Id. By order signed October 26, 2016, the court noted that it had received such motion along with two more pro se filings by movant. CR Doc. 40. The court cancelled the scheduled sentencing hearing, ordered the government to respond to the motions, and set a hearing to consider them. Id. On November 7, 2016, Calvin D. Johnson ("Johnson") filed a motion to substitute for St. John as counsel for movant bearing a typewritten signature. CR Doc. 45. The following day, he filed the same motion bearing his handwritten signature. CR Doc. 47. The court heard and granted the motion on November 8, 2016. CR Doc, 50; CR Doc. 73. By-separate order, the court denied movant's motion to withdraw guilty plea, noting that movant had withdrawn as untruthful the allegations made in paragraphs 2, 3, and 4 of his motion. CR Doc. 51; CR Doc. 73 at 14-15 (movant stating to the court that the allegations he made in those paragraphs of his motion to withdraw guilty plea were not true).

         On December 1, 2016, movant appeared for sentencing. CR Doc. 53. The court sentenced him to a term of imprisonment of 24 0 months. CR Doc. 55. Movant appealed. CR Doc. 59. The Fifth Circuit allowed Johnson to withdraw as attorney for movant and appointed William Biggs ("Biggs") to represent movant on appeal. CR Docs. 68, 69. Movant's ...


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