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United States v. Weathers

United States District Court, D. Maryland

June 10, 2016

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
IDA MAE WEATHERS Civil No. 15-3471

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Marvin J. Garbis United States District Judge

         The Court has before it Petitioner Weathers' Motion to Vacate or Correct Sentence and the materials submitted relating thereto. The Court finds that a hearing is unnecessary at this time.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On June 10, 2013, Petitioner was convicted on a plea of guilty to Count 1 (conspiracy to commit bank fraud, 18 U.S.C. § 1349), Count 18 (bank fraud, 18 U.S.C. § 1344), and Count 19 (aggravated identity theft, 18 U.S.C. § 1028A(a)(1), (c)(5)).

         On September 23, 2013, Petitioner was sentenced to 235 months concurrent on each of Counts 1 and 18 and 24 months consecutive on Count 19 for a total of 259 months. ECF No. 283. Petitioner appealed and, on August 18, [1] 2014, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed the conviction and sentence. United States v. Weathers, 581 F.App'x 273 (4th Cir. 2014), as amended (Aug. 22, 2014).

         By the instant Motion [ECF No. 422], timely filed, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, Petitioner seeks to have her conviction and sentence vacated.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Grounds Asserted

         Petitioner asserts that she was denied the effective assistance of counsel. Mot. 1, ECF No. 422.

         In order to prevail on a claim that counsel's representation violated her Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel, Petitioner must show (1) "that counsel's representation fell below an objective standard of reasonableness, "[2] and (2) "that there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different." Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687-88, 694 (1984). "A reasonable probability is a probability sufficient to undermine confidence in the outcome [of the proceedings]." Id. at 694.

         Petitioner bases her ineffective assistance claim on counsel's alleged failure to:

1. Adequately investigate and present matters pertaining to her personal history in mitigation of the sentence.
2. Adequately advise her regarding a plea agreement offered by the prosecution.

         These contentions will be addressed in turn.

         B. Personal History

         Petitioner organized and led a criminal conspiracy that regularly engaged in a highly effective theft scheme for more than five and half years using a modus operandi dating back to at least 1994.[3] Essentially, the conspirators would victimize women utilizing toilet facilities in ladies' restrooms in stores. A conspirator would occupy the stall next to a victim who had hung her purse on the door. The conspirator would attract the victim's attention, typically by asking the victim if she would provide her with toilet paper to use. While the victim was distracted, another conspirator (often, if not always, Petitioner herself) would reach over the door and obtain the victim's credit cards. ...


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