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Brashear v. United States

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division

March 24, 2015

KYLE WAYNE BRASHEAR, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

AUDREY G. FLEISSIG, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Petitioner Kyle Wayne Brashear's motion filed under 28 U.S.C. ยง 2255 to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence. Petitioner pled guilty to a drug offense and to possession of a firearm as a felon, and was sentenced to 151 months' imprisonment. Petitioner now claims that his counsel was ineffective by (1) failing to provide him with the evidence against him obtained during discovery; (2) failing to fully explain the pretrial waiver process with the result that he did not knowingly waive his right to challenge evidence against him, at an evidentiary hearing; and (3) making false promises enticing him into pleading guilty. For the reasons set forth below, the motion shall be denied.

BACKGROUND

On November 24, 2013, police attempted to stop a vehicle driven by Petitioner after getting a report that he had shoplifted a stereo speaker from a Walmart store. Petitioner fled from police at speeds up to 100 miles per hour until his car was stopped by a spike strip deployed by the Highway Patrol. Petitioner fled on foot and was apprehended after entering a relative's residence. Inside the vehicle, police saw in plain view a.25 caliber pistol, a bag of marijuana, and a number of articles used in the manufacturing and sale of methamphetamine. Petitioner waived his Miranda rights and admitted that the items were his, and that he had also been in possession of two grams of methamphetamine during the chase, which he ingested to prevent its recovery. Petitioner admitted that he both purchased and resold methamphetamine, and indicated that he had sold over 19 ounces of methamphetamine while on parole, since being released from shock incarceration five months prior.

On February 20, 2014, Petitioner was indicted on three counts: attempt to manufacture methamphetamine (Count 1); being a felon in possession of a firearm (Count 2); and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime (Count 3). Petitioner made an initial appearance on March 12, 2014, and an Assistant Federal Public Defender was appointed to represent him. Petitioner waived the reading of the indictment and entered an initial plea of not guilty.

On March 26, 2014, Petitioner's counsel filed Petitioner's statement regarding pretrial motions, which stated that Petitioner had been provided with the discovery against him, had reviewed it with counsel, and had decided to waive his pretrial motions. (Case No. 1:14CR00003 AGF/SPM, Doc. No. 21.) On April 10, 2014, Petitioner appeared before a magistrate judge for a hearing on his waiver of pretrial motions. Petitioner was placed under oath and questioned by the court regarding his intent to waive his pretrial motions. The court explained to Petitioner that he would be giving up his right to have an evidentiary hearing at which he could challenge the admissibility of the evidence against him. The following exchange then ensued:

Court: What you won't be able to do after today if I accept your waiver is to have certain motions filed on your behalf that you would otherwise be entitled to bring before trial. That's why we call them "pretrial motions." So, for example, all the evidence the Government plans to use against you at trial must have been acquired lawfully, and one of the things that pretrial motions will help to ensure is that your constitutional rights are protected.
So if you and your attorney believed that some of the evidence the Government plans to use at trial was not obtained lawfully, you would have the right to file a motion asking the Court to suppress all or some of that evidence.
If the evidence is suppressed, then the Government would not be allowed to use that evidence against you at trial. Do you understand that?
Petitioner: Yes, ma'am.
Court: And do you feel as if you've had enough time to talk to your attorney about your case and about pretrial motions?
Petitioner: Yes.
Court: Okay. Now, if pretrial motions are filed such as a motion asking the Court to suppress the evidence, then you would have a right to a hearing on that motion, an evidentiary hearing, and that hearing would be in front of me, and I would hear testimony from witnesses and get other information from both sides, and then I would ultimately make a decision recommending to your trial judge whether or not to admit the evidence at trial. Do you understand that?
Petitioner: Yes, ma'am.
Court: Okay. Now, you understand that [Petitioner's counsel] has advised the Court that he's received discovery from the Government and he's reviewed that with you. So you have an understanding of the nature of the evidence the Government has against you in your case; is that correct?
Petitioner: Yes.
Court: And with that understanding and after talking it over with your attorney, is it your choice and your understanding that it's in your interest in this case to waive or give up your right to have pretrial motions filed on your behalf?
Petitioner: Yes, it is.
...
Court: Okay. You understand that without filing pretrial motions, if you don't file pretrial motions, there's nothing for me to have a hearing on; so by waiving or giving up your right to have pretrial motions filed, you're also giving up any right you would have to an evidentiary hearing on those motions. You do understand that, don't you?
Petitioner: Yes, ma'am.

Id., Doc. No. 24 at 3-5.

Petitioner was told that his decision to waive pretrial motions would be final and that he would not be able to have an evidentiary hearing nor claim that his rights had been violated in that respect. The Court then asked Petitioner whether he had been threatened or induced by promises to waive his rights to pretrial motions.

Court: Okay. Now, did anyone threaten you or beat you up to get you to give up your right to have pretrial motions filed on your behalf?
Petitioner: No, ma'am.
Court: Did anyone promise to give you anything in exchange for your giving up your right to have pretrial motions filed in this case?
Petitioner: No. Court: All right. Very good. I do accept your waivers. I find that you've made them knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently....

Id. at 6-7.

Petitioner thereafter filed a memorandum signed by Petitioner and his counsel, confirming that counsel had received all discovery, and that Petitioner had discussed this matter with counsel, understood the reasons for the waiver, and agreed that it was in his best interest to waive his rights to pretrial motions. Id. Doc. No. 25.

On April 22, 2014, Petitioner and the United States entered into a plea agreement pursuant to which Petitioner would plead guilty to Counts 1 and 2 of the indictment, and the United States would dismiss Count 3. In the agreement, Petitioner affirmed his satisfaction with the performance of his attorney; acknowledged that his attorney had fully explored all issues raised by Petitioner; that he had discussed the terms and conditions of the plea agreement with his attorney and was in agreement with them; that he was pleading freely and voluntarily; and that no threats or promises had been made to influence his decision. Id. Doc. No. 29 at 11-12. The plea agreement also advised Petitioner of the maximum penalties he was facing. Id. at 4-5. On the same day, Petitioner appeared before the Court for a change of plea hearing, and was questioned about the terms of the plea agreement, including matters pertinent to Petitioner's current claims.

At the plea hearing, Petitioner represented that he had had a "full opportunity to review [his] charges and [his] case with [his] attorney." Id. Doc. No. 46 at 9. The Court also confirmed that Petitioner was satisfied with his attorney's performance:

Court: And have you had enough time to discuss not only your case but also this plea agreement with your attorney?
Petitioner: Yes, ma'am.
Court: And are you satisfied with his representation of ...

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