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Person-Robinson v. United States

United States District Court, D. Maryland

April 17, 2017

JANAYA BRITTNE PERSON-ROBINSON, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent. Civil Action No. RDB-15-2396

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          RICHARD D. BENNETT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         The pro se Petitioner Janaya Brittne Person-Robinson ('Tetitioner" or "Person-Robinson") pled guilty before this Court to Armed Bank Robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a), (d), and (f), pursuant to a Plea Agreement with the Government[1] J., p. 1, ECF No. 54. Subsequently,, this Court sentenced Petitioner to a period of incarceration of 84 months, followed by five years of supervised release. Id. at 2-3. Currently pending before this Court are Petitioner's Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (ECF No. 57), and Amended Motion to Vacate (ECF No. 67).[2] Having reviewed the parties' submissions, this Court finds that no hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons discussed herein, Petitioner's Motion to Vacate (ECF No. 57) is DENIED, and Petitioner's Amended Motion to Vacate (ECF No. 67) is also DENIED.

         BACKGROUND

         Pursuant to a Plea Agreement with the Government, Petitioner Janaya Brittne Person-Robinson ('Tetitioner" or "Person-Robinson") has agreed that if this matter had proceeded to trial, "the Government would have proven the following facts beyond a reasonable doubt:" On the morning of October 1, 2013, Person-Robinson and co-defendant Darrius Roszario D. Washington ("Washington") parked Washington's silver Chevrolet Impala in a parking lot near an M&T Bank branch, located at 39 Shipping Place in Dundalk, Maryland. Plea Agreement, Attachment A, p. 9, ECF No. 34. Person-Robinson had previously been a "teller-trainee" at this M&T Bank branch, so she was "familiar with the bank layout, bank procedures, and the tellers who worked at the bank." Id. Person-Robinson had shared her knowledge of this branch with Washington. Id.

         At approximately 7:30 a.m., Person-Robinson and Washington approached an M&T Bank teller ("Teller 1") as that teller got out of her car in the branch parking lot. Id. "Washington [ ] ran up to Teller 1, pulled out a .32 caliber Iver Johnson Arms and Cycle Works revolver, held the revolver to Teller l's head, and told her not to look at him and to unlock the door to the bank." Id. When Washington threatened to "blow [Teller l's] head off, " Teller 1 unlocked the door. Id. Once Person-Robinson and Washington had entered the bank, Teller 1 fled and called the police. Id.

         Another teller ("Teller 2") was already inside the bank at that time. Person-Robinson had told Washington Teller 2's name and the name of Teller 2's child, and had informed him that Teller 2 had access to the bank's vault. Id. "Once inside the bank, Washington immediately approached [Teller 2] and called her by her first name." Id. Washington forced Teller 2 to accompany him to the vault, using the revolver, and told her to open the vault door. Id. "Washington told [Teller 2] that if she did not open the vault door, she would never see her son again." Id. Washington stated the name of Teller 2's son. Id. Teller 2 opened the vault door, and Washington forced Teller 2 to the floor with the revolver. Id. Person-Robinson removed money from the teller stations, and Washington removed money from the vault. Id.

         Subsequendy, Person-Robinson and Washington exited the bank. Id. They "[took] with them a canvas bag filled with $133, 600 of federally insured money, which was in the care and custody of M&T Bank, got into the Silver Chevrolet Impala, and attempted to flee." Id. After a brief pursuit by police, both Person-Robinson and Washington were arrested. Id. Officers searched the vehicle and recovered the canvas bag filled with $133, 600, the .32 caliber revolver used to commit the robbery, and hats and blue latex gloves, which Person-Robinson and Washington had worn during the robbery. Id. at 9-10. Person-Robinson and Washington both "provided statements indicating their involvement in the planning and execution of the robbery." Id.

         Person-Robinson and Washington were both charged with Armed Bank Robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a), (d), and (f). Indictment, ECF No. 1. Additionally, Washington was charged with Forced Accompaniment, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(e) (Count 2), and Brandishing a Firearm During a Crime of Violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) (Count 3). Id. Both Person-Robinson and Washington entered guilty pleas in this case, pursuant to Plea Agreements with the Government. Person-Robinson was represented by two attorneys, one privately-retained and one court-appointed. A third attorney, from the same law firm as Person-Robinson's privately-retained counsel, appeared on her behalf at a proffer session with the Government.

         On May 19, 2014, Person-Robinson pled guilty to Armed Bank Robbery (Count 1), pursuant to a Plea Agreement with the Government. The Government has indicated that Person-Robinson was brought in for "outside the case cooperation, " but that she did not have the kind of information the Government was looking for. Gov't. Response, Ex. 3, p. 7, ECF No. 63 [SEALED]. Accordingly, the Government did not offer Petitioner a cooperation agreement and has not at any time moved for a sentence reduction under U.S.S.G. § 5K1.1. On October 29, 2014, this Court sentenced Person-Robinson to a total period of incarceration of 84 months. See J., p. 1, ECF No. 54. On January 15, 2015, the United States Sentencing Commission announced a series of proposed amendments to the Sentencing Guidelines, including Amendment 794, which provides amended guidelines for economic crimes. However, Amendment 794 did not go into effect until November 1, 2015, over one year after both defendants in this case had been sentenced.

         In her pending Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (ECF No. 57), Person-Robinson seeks a "reduction in sentence and/or a change in the method of how the balance of her sentence is served." Mot., p. 1, ECF No. 57. Person-Robinson argues ineffective assistance of counsel, in violation of her rights under the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Id. at 1-2. Additionally, Person-Robinson claims that her sentence should be reduced because of "mitigating circumstances." Id. at 2-4. In her Amended Motion to Vacate (ECF No. 67), Person-Robinson argues that the Supreme Court's decision in Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2251 (2015) "retroactively invalidates" this Court's determination that Petitioner committed a crime of violence.[3]Amended Mot., p. 1-2, ECF No. 67. Person-Robinson further claims in her Amended Motion that she is entitled to a "minor role reduction" under Amendment 794, a subsequent amendment to the United States Sentencing Guidelines. Id. at 2-3.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Pro se filings are "liberally construed" and are "held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Erickson v. Pardus, -551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (citation omitted). Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, a prisoner in custody may seek to vacate, set aside or correct his sentence where: (1) "the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, " (2) the court lacked "jurisdiction to impose the sentence, . . . [(3)] the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law, or [(4) the sentence] is otherwise subject to a collateral attack." 28 U.S.C. § 2255. "[A]n error of law does not provide a basis for collateral attack unless the claimed error constituted 'a fundamental defect which inherently results in a complete miscarriage of justice.'" United States v. Addonizio, 442 U.S. 178, 185 (1979) (quoting Bill v. United States, 368 U.S. 424, 428 (1962)).

         DISCUSSION

         I. Petitioner's Ineffective Assistance ...


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