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United States v. Roy

United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division

July 31, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
JEAN-CLAUDE ROY, Defendant. Civil No. PWG-16-3685

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Paul W. Grimm United States District Judge

         Jean-Claude Roy was charged in a thirteen-count indictment with, inter alia, interstate transportation for prostitution, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2421 (Counts 4, 7, 9); conspiracy to commit sex trafficking by force, fraud, or coercion, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1594(c) (Count 5); and witness and evidence tampering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1512(b)(2)(B) (Count 10).[2]ECF No. 64. A ten-day jury trial began on March 4, 2014, and the Court orally granted the Government's motion to dismiss three other counts in the Second Superseding Indictment. ECF Nos. 161, 162. At the conclusion of trial, the jury convicted Roy on Counts 4, 5, 7, 9, 10 and acquitted him on the five remaining counts. ECF No. 182. On July 22, 2014, the Court sentenced Defendant to 120 months' incarceration on the interstate transportation for prostitution counts, 240 months' incarceration on the conspiracy count, and 240 months' incarceration on the witness and evidence tampering count, all to be served concurrently. Jmt., ECF No. 244. The Court also imposed supervised release terms of ten years as to the interstate transportation for prostitution counts, five years as to the conspiracy count, and three years as to the witness and evidence tampering count, to run concurrent to all other counts. Id. Roy appealed, ECF No. 246, and the Fourth Circuit affirmed his conviction and sentence. See United States v. Roy, 630 F. App'x 169 (4th Cir. 2015) (per curiam).

         Now pending is Roy's Motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate Set Aside, or Correct Sentence, ECF No. 331. He has submitted a thorough Memorandum in Support, ECF No. 335, and the Government has filed a comprehensive Opposition, ECF No. 340. Roy contends that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance in three regards and his appellate counsel provided ineffective assistance in another regard. Specifically, he argues that, when the jury posed a question about the conspiracy count and the Court provided an answer that did not augment the jury instructions, his trial counsel failed to object or request additional instructions. Relatedly, he also argues that his trial counsel failed to object to the jury instructions pertaining to the conspiracy charge. Additionally, he asserts that his trial counsel failed to request a Franks[3]hearing and to move to suppress evidence when, as he sees it, the evidence included search warrants with false statements. And, he contends that his appellate counsel did not raise all of the issues Roy wanted him to raise. But, Roy has not shown that either attorney's performance was constitutionally deficient or demonstrated “a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different.” See Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 694 (1984). Accordingly, I will deny his § 2255 Motion.

         Standard of Review

          28 U.S.C. § 2255(a) permits a prisoner to file a motion to vacate, set aside or correct his sentence on the ground that it “was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States . . . .” The prisoner must prove his case by a preponderance of the evidence. Brown v. United States, Civil No. DKC-10-2569 & Crim. No. DKC-08-529, 2013 WL 4562276, at *5 (D. Md. Aug. 27, 2013). If the court finds for the prisoner, “the court shall vacate and set the judgment aside and shall discharge the prisoner or resentence him or grant a new trial or correct the sentence as may appear appropriate.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(b). Although “a pro se movant is entitled to have his arguments reviewed with appropriate deference, ” the Court may summarily deny the motion without a hearing “if the § 2255 motion, along with the files and records of the case, conclusively shows that [the prisoner] is not entitled to relief.” Brown, 2013 WL 4562276, at *5 (citing Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151-53 (4th Cir.1978); 28 U.S.C. § 2255(b)).

         To prevail on a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel as the alleged Constitutional violation,

[t]he petitioner must show that counsel's performance was constitutionally deficient to the extent that it fell below an objective standard of reasonableness, and that he was prejudiced thereby. Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687- 91 (1984). In making this determination, there is a strong presumption that counsel's conduct was within the wide range of reasonable professional assistance. Id. at 689; see also Fields v. Attorney Gen. of Md., 956 F.2d 1290, 1297-99 (4th Cir. 1992). Furthermore, the petitioner “bears the burden of proving Strickland prejudice.” Fields, 956 F.2d at 1297. “If the petitioner fails to meet this burden, a reviewing court need not consider the performance prong.” Fields, 956 F.2d at 1297 (citing Strickland, 466 U.S. at 697). In considering the prejudice prong of the analysis, the Court may not grant relief solely because the petitioner can show that, but for counsel's performance, the outcome would have been different. Sexton v. French, 163 F.3d 874, 882 (4th Cir. 1998). Rather, the Court “can only grant relief under ... Strickland if the ‘result of the proceeding was fundamentally unfair or unreliable.'” Id. (quoting Lockhard v. Fretwell, 506 U.S. 364, 369 (1993)).

United States v. Lomax, Civil No. WMN-13-2375 & Crim. No. WMN-10-145, 2014 WL 1340065, at *2 (D. Md. Apr. 2, 2014).

         To show prejudice, the defendant must demonstrate “a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different.” See Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 694 (1984). A probability is reasonable if it is “sufficient to undermine confidence in the outcome.” Id. Additionally, the defendant must show that “the ‘result of the proceeding was fundamentally unfair or unreliable.'” Lomax, 2014 WL 1340065, at *2 (quoting Sexton v. French, 163 F.3d 874, 882 (4th Cir. 1998) (quoting Lockhard v. Fretwell, 506 U.S. 364, 369 (1993))); see also Lockhart, 506 U.S. at 369 (“[A]n analysis focusing solely on mere outcome determination, without attention to whether the result of the proceeding was fundamentally unfair or unreliable, is defective.”). If the defendant fails to show prejudice, the Court need not consider the performance prong. Id.

         Discussion

          Challenges Related to Jury Instructions on Conspiracy

          The Government summarizes the relevant parts of trial underlying the first two grounds that Roy raises, and I incorporate by reference the factual background it provides in its Opposition. Gov't Opp'n 5-6. I also adopt its well-reasoned analysis of the issue. See Id. at 7- 14. Notably, counsel's performance was not deficient in failing to object to the jury instructions on the conspiracy count, or the Court's response to the jury question about the conspiracy instructions, because there was no basis for an objection: The instructions, viewed as a whole, made clear that the jury had to find that Roy conspired to commit an unlawful act, namely sex trafficking by force, fraud, or coercion. See United States v. Green, 599 F.3d 360, 378 (4th Cir. 2010) (instructions, taken as a whole, must accurately state the law). Moreover, Roy has not shown a reasonable probability that, with the instruction or clarification he wanted, the jury would not have convicted him, given the strength of the evidence of force, fraud, or coercion; as a result, he has not shown prejudice.

         Failure to Request Franks Hearing

          Again, I incorporate by reference the factual background that the Government provides in its Opposition regarding how trial counsel handled the possibility of a Franks hearing. Gov't Opp'n 15-16. I also adopt the Government's well-reasoned analysis of this issue. See Id. at 17- 22. Preliminary, trial counsel simply did not fail to request a Franks hearing: He requested one in accordance with his client's wishes. See Jan. 27, 2014 Mot. Hr'g Tr. 56:8-20, ECF No. 269 (“At the insistence of Mr. Roy, I am formally requesting a Franks hearing at this point. I think the Court and counsel are at the same level of understanding as to the legal basis and the underpinnings to a request for a Franks hearing, which I am not, in my view, in a position to make at this time, but Mr. Roy has insisted that I place on the record the Defense request for a Franks hearing at this point. . . . I'm only going to ask that it not impinge upon in any way our entitlement to making such a request at some point in the future when counsel determines it's appropriate.”). Additionally, he filed other motions to suppress and explained in open court why he did not believe he could make the showing necessary ...


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