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Huggans v. United States

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

July 26, 2016

DARWIN MARKEITH HUGGANS, Movant,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          CATHERINE D. PERRY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         In June of 2015, I denied Darwin Markeith Huggans’ motion to vacate, set aside or correct his sentence, brought under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Huggans had been convicted after a bench trial of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine and a separate charge of attempt to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine. Case No. 4:07CR541 CDP. The government filed an information under 21 U.S.C. § 851 charging him with two prior felony drug convictions, so he was sentenced to life imprisonment, as was mandatory under 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A). The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed his conviction and sentence. United States v. Huggans, 650 F.3d 1210 (8th Cir. 2011), cert denied, 132 S.Ct. 1583 (2012).

         In ruling on the § 2255 motion, I rejected the following grounds for relief:

1. Counsel had an actual conflict of interest, depriving Huggans of his Sixth Amendment right to counsel, and counsel failed to inform Huggans or the court of the conflict.
2. The trial court erred in failing to inquire into counsel’s actual conflict of interest, depriving Huggans of his Sixth Amendment right to conflict free counsel.
3. The trial court erred in allowing the matter to proceed to a bench trial, depriving Huggans of his right to due process and counsel was ineffective for not requesting a jury trial based on the court’s concern in having a bench trial at all.
4. Trial counsel was ineffective for failing to adequately investigate or prepare for Huggans’ case.
5. The trial court erred in failing to correctly advise Huggans of the § 851 consequences and counsel was ineffective for failing to object to the court’s incorrect § 851 statement in violation of Huggans’ due process rights under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments.
6. Counsel was ineffective in advising Huggans to proceed to a bench trial without proper advice.
7. Trial counsel was ineffective in failing to properly advise Huggans regarding possible sentences or the impact of § 851 enhancements in taking a plea versus going to trial.
8. Huggans was deprived of his Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of appellate counsel.
9. Under Alleyne v. United States, 133 S.Ct. 2151 (2013), the government was required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the prior convictions that formed the basis for the § 851 sentencing enhancement.

         Huggans has now filed a number of pro se motions in this closed case.[1] He filed a motion to alter or amend the judgment and supplemental motion, several motions for discovery and a motion for appointment of counsel, and other assorted memoranda and supplemental filings. Most of the many filings simply reargue the grounds that I previously rejected, or refile materials that Huggans had filed before. I will not discuss any of those previously rejected arguments because Huggans has presented nothing that would change any of my prior analysis or that convinces me that my previous analysis was incorrect. Additionally, his requests for discovery are directed to those same rejected grounds and he is not entitled to the discovery he seeks.

         In his motion to alter or amend judgment, however, Huggans raises one new claim: that he has “newly discovered evidence” that the government failed to disclose exculpatory material, specifically that a witness had been an informant back in 1994. He also alleges that the undersigned was biased in favor of the witness’s testimony because I had been the Magistrate Judge who presided over a hearing involving the witness in 1994, some fifteen years before Huggans’ 2009 trial. He asserts that I should have sua sponte recused myself from presiding over his bench trial, and that his counsel ...


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