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Griner v. United States

United States District Court, Fourth Circuit

November 15, 2013

RICHOL GRINER, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent. Criminal Case No. PJM-07-0160

MEMORANDUM OPINION

PETER J. MESSITTE, District Judge.

Richol Griner, proceeding pro se, has filed a Motion to Correct, Vacate, or Set Aside a Sentence Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 ("§ 2255 Motion") [Paper No. 269] and a Motion for Bail [Paper No. 270]. Having considered Griner's Motions and the Government's Response thereto, the Court DENIES the Motions.

I.

On April 25, 2007, the Grand Jury returned a Superseding Indictment charging Griner and two co-conspirators, Giovanni Bell and Jude Eligwe, with: (1) conspiracy to commit bank robbery; (2) bank robbery; and (3) using, carrying and brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. On June 16, 2008, a jury convicted Griner and Bell on all counts and Eligwe of conspiracy. The evidence showed that Griner, Bell, Eligwe and two others (Timothy Slobig and Kevin James) conspired to rob Commerce Bank in Rockville, Maryland on February 19, 2007. Slobig pleaded guilty to all counts and testified at the trial of the others, providing details about the preparation and execution of the robbery. James was not charged, nor did he testify at trial.

Griner was sentenced to 360 months imprisonment and remains detained at the United States Penitentiary, Big Sandy, in Inez, Kentucky.

On September 5, 2008, he appealed this Court's final judgment. On October 26, 2009, he filed a Motion for New Trial in this Court. The Court denied Griner's Motion and Griner took an appeal from that denial. On December 1, 2011, the Fourth Circuit affirmed both Griner's direct appeal of this Court's final judgment and this Court's denial of his Motion for a New Trial. The Fourth Circuit denied Griner's petition for a rehearing and a rehearing en banc. On March 20, 2012, Griner filed a writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of the United States, which was denied on April 23, 2012.

On April 22, 2013, Griner certified that his present § 2255 motion was mailed via United States Postal Mail. On April 29, 2013, his motion was filed with the Court.

II.

Griner seeks appointment of counsel for his habeas petition, which the Government opposes.

There is no Sixth Amendment right to counsel to pursue a petition for collateral relief. See Pennsylvania v. Finely, 481 U.S. 551, 555 (1987). A district court may provide counsel for an indigent inmate pursuing a petition for habeas corpus if "the court determines that the interests of justice so require." 18 U.S.C. § 3006A (a)(2)(B). The court's decision concerning the appointment of counsel will only be considered an abuse of discretion where the petitioner presents "exceptional circumstances." Garrett v. Elko, 120 F.3d 261 (4th Cir. 1997).

Counsel represented Griner during trial and his direct appeal to the Fourth Circuit, raising the same claims Griner seeks to raise now. The Court finds no "exceptional circumstances" presented by the facts or legal issues in this case, nor does the Court find Griner unable to represent himself. Whisenant v. Yuam, 739 F.2d 160, 163 (4th Cir. 1984) (quoting Cooks v. Bounds, 518 F.2d 779 (4th Cir. 1975)). The Court therefore declines to appoint counsel for Griner.

III.

In his § 2255 Motion, Griner argues that (1) the Government engaged in prosecutorial misconduct, (2) the Government relied upon false testimony, and (3) this Court erred when it refused to sever Griner's case from that of his co-defendants.[1]

Griner argues first that the Government engaged in prosecutorial misconduct when it withheld information and evidence related to Kevin James. Griner claims that in fact James planned the bank robbery and was the primary perpetrator of the assault on the female bank employee during the robbery. Second, Griner argues that the Government relied on the false testimony of Timothy Slobig, who testified that Griner was responsible for the carjacking of Katherine Parmalee. Finally, Griner argues that this Court erred when it refused to sever his case from that of his co-defendants. He claims that by being denied severance from his codefendants, he was placed in a position where he was obliged ...


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