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United States v. Vaughn

United States District Court, D. Maryland

May 18, 2016

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
DONTA VAUGHN Criminal No. MJG-11-0570

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER RE: § 2255 MOTION

          MARVIN J. GARBIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         The Court has before it Petitioner's Motion for Relief (Pursuant to 28 USC (sic) 2255) [ECF No. 79] and the materials filed relating thereto. The Court finds no hearing necessary.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         On June 20, 2012, Petitioner was convicted on a plea of guilty to charges of escape from custody in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 751(a) and assaulting and impeding federal officers while they were engaged in their official duties in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 111. On October 15, 2012, the Court imposed the sentence of 60 months on each Count, to be served concurrently. Judgment, ECF No. 24.

         By the instant Motion, Petitioner seeks to have his sentence vacated and a lesser sentence imposed. However, as described below, Petitioner, while filing a timely initial § 2255 motion, proceeded to so delay the instant proceedings, that the motion was not fully briefed until he filed his reply [ECF No. 117] on March 21, 2016. Thus, the briefing on the instant motion was completed some 18 days prior to Petitioner's having served the entire sentence at issue.

         On April 8, 2016, the day he completed the sentence at issue, Petitioner filed a document entitled "Notice of Release" stating that the instant motion is not moot because he will be subject to the supervised release portion of the sentence. However, Petitioner was not placed on supervised release when he completed service of this Court's five-year sentence. Rather, he was taken into state custody.

         The Court understands that, on March 21, 2014, Petitioner was sentenced to life imprisonment for False Imprisonment and False Imprisonment Conspiracy (Baltimore City Circuit Court 112306020) and also received a concurrent five-year sentence for Verbal Extortion/Threat Injury and Conspiracy Verbal Extortion/Threat Injury on the same date (Baltimore City Circuit Court 112306021).

         II. BACKGROUND

         In 2010, Petitioner was convicted of mailing a threatening communication in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 876(b) and was sentenced by presiding Judge Bennett to 18 months in prison. United States v. Vaughn, RDB-10-0404 (D. Md.).

         In, or about, July 2011, Petitioner's custody was transferred to the Volunteers of America half-way house in Baltimore. On, or about, September 5, 2011, Petitioner left the half-way house without permission and, thereby, committed the offense of escape in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 751(a). Thereafter, a warrant for Petitioner's arrest was issued.

         On October 4, 2011, Petitioner was spotted by a Deputy United States Marshal entering a car in which there was a female passenger and driving away. There ensued a car chase in which Petitioner placed the officers and general public in severe risk of injury. Moreover, at one point when he was stopped, Petitioner drove his car toward the Deputy to effect his escape. However, eventually, the Deputy, together with other officers, managed to arrest Petitioner. Petitioner admitted in his plea proceeding that he utilized the automobile he was driving to assault the Deputy intending to impede his being arrested in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 111.[1]

         At sentencing, the Court determined Petitioner's Offense Level to be 18, which, with Criminal History Category V, called for a Guideline sentencing range of 51 to 63 months. The Court, noting that Petitioner's actions were utterly reckless, endangering law enforcement personnel and the public, stated that a sentence above the Guideline range would be warranted. However, the court sentenced Petitioner to 60 months, within the determined Guideline range.

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Mootness

         As discussed above, Petitioner has now served the five-year sentence that he seeks to have reduced by the instant motion. Hence, as to the five-year sentence of incarceration that he has now served, the motion is moot.

         Petitioner states that the instant motion is not moot because he has not yet served the three-year supervised release imposed on him. Thus, at such time, if ever, that he may be released from state custody in regard to his current life sentence, he would then be subject to a term of federal supervised release. Therefore, as to the supervised release condition, the instant motion is not moot.

         B. Supervised Release

         As noted above, the motion is not moot as to the term of supervised release imposed. Because Petitioner may be released from state custody during his lifetime, it is possible that he could be placed on supervised release pursuant to the sentence imposed in the instant case.

         Nevertheless, Petitioner has presented no contention, much less any plausible contention, that could result in any change in the supervised release term imposed.

         C. Sentence of Incarceration

         As discussed above, the instant motion is moot with regard to the sentence of five years of incarceration. Nevertheless, the Court finds it appropriate to state that if the motion were not moot, it would be denied on the merits.

         1. Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

         Petitioner asserts that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel due to counsel's alleged failure to:

• Adequately present contentions that would have resulted in a lower Offense Level determination.
• Adequately present mitigating circumstances regarding conditions at the half-way house from which he escaped.
• Adequately present mitigating circumstances regarding Petitioner's ...

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