Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Rhodes v. United States

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

February 20, 2018




         This matter is before the Court on Movant Dwight Rhodes' Motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody. (Doc. No. 1.) The Government has filed a Response (Doc. No. 9), and Movant filed a Reply (Doc. No. 15). The matter is, therefore, ready for disposition. Because the Court finds that Movant's claim can be conclusively determined based upon the parties' filings and the record, the Court decides this matter without an evidentiary hearing.

         I. Background[1]

         On October 20, 2011, a federal grand jury returned a four-count indictment against Movant, charging him with (1) possession of marijuana in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 844(a) (Count I); (2) being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) (Count II); (3) using and maintaining a premises for the purpose of distributing and using a controlled substance in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 856(a)(1) (Count III); and (4) possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) (Count IV). After a two-day jury trial on June 25 and 26, 2012, Movant was found guilty on all four counts. On September 27, 2012, Movant was sentenced to concurrent terms of 12 months on Count I and 94 months on Counts II and III, and a consecutive term of 60 months on Count IV, for a total term of imprisonment of 154 months.

         Movant appealed to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that the trial court erred in denying his motion for judgment of acquittal on Count III because the evidence was insufficient to prove that his purpose in using or maintaining the premises in question was to distribute a controlled substance. The Eighth Circuit rejected his argument and affirmed this Court's judgment and sentence on September 13, 2013. United States v. Rhodes, 730 F.3d 727 (8th Cir. 2013). His petition for writ of certiorari was denied by the United States Supreme Court on March 10, 2014. Rhodes v. United States, 134 S.Ct. 1525 (2014). On March 9, 2015, Movant timely filed pro se the pending motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, alleging ineffective assistance of trial counsel. On September 11, 2017, Movant filed a motion to amend his § 2255 motion on the grounds that 18 U.S.C. § 924 is “void for vagueness.”

         II. Standard of review

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, a federal prisoner may seek habeas relief “upon the ground that the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, or that the court was without jurisdiction to impose such sentence, or that the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law, or is otherwise subject to collateral attack.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). To warrant relief under § 2255, the error of which the movant complains must amount to a “fundamental defect which inherently results in a complete miscarriage of justice.” Davis v. United States, 417 U.S. 333, 346 (1974) (quotation and citation omitted); United States v. Apfel, 97 F.3d 1074, 1076 (8th Cir. 1996).

         Section 2255 does not provide a means for movants to relitigate the merits of the evidence presented at their trial. See Houser v. United States, 508 F.2d 509, 513-14 (8th Cir. 1974) (“Prisoners adjudged guilty of crime should understand that 28 U.S.C.A. § 2255 does not give them the right to try over again the cases in which they have been adjudged guilty.”).

         Procedural default may limit the relief available to a § 2255 movant. First, a movant cannot raise a claim that was previously raised and decided on direct appeal. United States v. Davis, 406 F.3d 505, 511 (8th Cir. 2005). Second, a movant cannot raise a non-constitutional or non-jurisdictional claim that could have been raised on direct appeal but was not. Anderson v. United States, 25 F.3d 704, 706 (8th Cir. 1994). Third, a movant cannot raise a constitutional or jurisdictional claim that was not raised on direct appeal unless he “can demonstrate (1) cause for the default and actual prejudice or (2) actual innocence.” United States v. Moss, 252 F.3d 993, 1001 (8th Cir. 2001). However, a movant may raise a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel for the first time in a § 2255 motion, regardless of whether the claim could have been raised on direct appeal. Massaro v. United States, 538 U.S. 500, 504 (2003).

         If a movant's claim is not procedurally barred, the Court must hold an evidentiary hearing to consider it, “[u]nless the motion and the files and records of the case conclusively show that the prisoner is entitled to no relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(b). Thus, a movant is entitled to an evidentiary hearing “when the facts alleged, if true, would entitle [the movant] to relief.” Payne v. United States, 78 F.3d 343, 347 (8th Cir. 1996). In contrast, a court may dismiss a movant's claim without an evidentiary hearing “if the claim is inadequate on its face or if the record affirmatively refutes the factual assertions upon which it is based.” Shaw v. United States, 24 F.3d 1040, 1043 (8th Cir. 1994).

         III. Discussion

         A. § 2255 motion

         Movant seeks relief on the grounds that his counsel was ineffective. In Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984), the United States Supreme Court set forth the two-part test a § 2255 movant must satisfy in order to prevail on a claim of ineffective assistance:

First, the defendant must show that counsel's performance was deficient. This requires showing that counsel made errors so serious that counsel was not functioning as the “counsel” guaranteed the defendant by the Sixth Amendment. Second, the defendant must show that the deficient performance prejudiced the defense. This requires showing that counsel's ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.