United States District Court, D. Maryland
J. MESSITTE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
se petitioner Mirza Kunjundzic has filed a Motion Under
28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside or Correct
Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody. ECF No. 166. The
Court has considered the Motion and the Government's
Opposition. For the reasons described below, the Court DENIES
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
January 30, 2014, a federal Grand Jury returned a Second
Superseding Indictment against Kunjundzic charging him with
eighteen criminal counts in connection with a conspiracy he
allegedly engaged in with a Prince George's County Police
officer that involved controlled substances, untaxed
cigarettes, firearms, and extortion. ECF No. 124.
entered into an agreement with the Government and pled guilty
to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to
distribute controlled substances, in violation of 21 U.S.C.
§ 846 (Count 1), and possession of a firearm in
furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, in violation of 18
U.S.C. § 924(c)(Count 8). ECF No. 162. The Government
agreed to dismiss the sixteen remaining counts. Id.
went through a series of appointed counsel. On November 15,
2010, Allen Orenberg, Esquire, was appointed as counsel for
Kunjundzic, but on March 1, 2011, the Court granted
Orenberg's Motion for Leave to Withdraw as Counsel on the
grounds that the attorney-client relationship had been
irreparably damaged. ECF No. 32.
Court then appointed Barry Coburn, Esquire, as
Kunjundzic's successor counsel. However, on September 13,
2011, Coburn filed a Motion to Withdraw as Counsel, advising
the Court that Kunjundzic had told him he no longer wanted
his services. ECF No. 55. The Court held an attorney inquiry
hearing on October 11, 2011 at which Kunjundzic indicated
that he had changed his mind. ECF No. 60. Lloyd Liu, Esquire,
a lawyer in Coburn's law firm, subsequently filed a
Notice of Appearance as counsel. Then, on July 1, 2013,
Kunjundzic, acting pro se, filed a Motion to have
Coburn and Liu dismissed, ECF No. 100, and, on August 5, 2013
they filed their own Motion for Leave to Withdraw as Counsel.
ECF No. 106.
August 22, 2013, the Court held attorney inquiry hearing, at
which it warned Kunjundzic that he could not
“continuously postpone” his case by complaining
of dissatisfaction with counsel. ECF No. 161 at 6: 2-4. When
the Court asked Kunjundzic if he still wanted an attorney to
represent him in his case, Kunjundzic, instead of responding,
said “I am not consenting to anything that's
occurring in this courtroom.” Id. at 9:7-8.
The Court then discharged Liu and Coburn from the case and
appointed Gary Proctor, Esquire, as standby counsel. ECF Nos.
August 22 hearing, the Court and counsel discussed the status
of discovery in light of the Court's appointment of
standby counsel. Proctor was provided with discovery on the
day of the hearing in preparation for possible participation
in the trial, and the Government was directed to turn over
the same discovery to Kunjundzic one month before trial if he
were to conduct his own defense. ECF No. 161 at 16: 18-19. On
December 13, 2013, Kunjundzic filed a motion to terminate
Proctor as his counsel, but the Court denied the motion. ECF
No. 122. Then, it appears, before the case went to trial,
Kunjundzic on his own (without consulting Proctor) contacted
the Government to discuss a plea deal and ultimately agreed
to plead guilty to the two previously referenced counts. The
Court conducted a thorough voir dire of Kunjundzic at the
plea hearing with Proctor present but not participating. When
asked by the Court whether he was satisfied with Proctor as
standby counsel, Kunjundzic responded that he “[had
not] talked to him much, ” but he was “pretty
sure” he was “a great lawyer.” ECF No. 162
at 33:23. The Court was satisfied that Kunjundzic had
knowingly and voluntarily waived his right to counsel and
also knowingly and voluntarily entered his guilty plea.
Id. at 34:9-10. The Court subsequently sentenced
Proctor to ten years in custody as to Count 1 of the Second
Superseding Indictment and five years in custody as to Count
8 to run consecutively, and be followed by five years of
supervised release as to both counts, to be served
concurrently. ECF No. 144.
December 28, 2015, Kunjundzic filed the current motion,
arguing that the Court lacked subject matter jurisdiction
over this case and that presumably all his counsel were
ineffective. ECF No. 166.
SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION
argument that the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction
over this case is baseless. Federal judicial power extends to
“all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under . . . the
Laws of the United States . . . .” U.S. Const. art. III
§ 2 cl. 1. Kunjundzic was charged with and admitted to
violating Federal laws, specifically 21 U.S.C. § 846 and
18 U.S.C. §§ 924(c)(2).
by the way, is also not the first time Kunjundzic has raised
this argument - he also challenged the Court's subject
matter jurisdiction at the August 22, 2013 attorney inquiry
hearing, at which point the Court clearly explained that
Kunjundzic was “alleged to have committed crimes that
are federal in nature in the state of Maryland, ” and
was “properly taken into custody, based on . . . a
warrant with probable cause.” ECF No. 161. Therefore,