Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

West v. United States

United States District Court, D. Maryland

January 24, 2018

DEVONTAE WEST Registration No. 38538-007
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          DEBORAH K. CHASANOW UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Presently pending and ready for resolution are the following motions filed by Petitioner Devontae West (“Petitioner”): (1) a motion to vacate sentence (ECF No. 80); (2) a motion for an immediate evidentiary hearing (ECF No. 92); (3) a motion for release pending resolution of the motion to vacate (ECF No. 93); and (4) a motion for alternative judgment (ECF No. 94). The issues have been briefed, and the court now rules, no hearing being deemed necessary. Local Rule 105.6. For the following reasons, Petitioner's motions will be denied.

         I. Background

         A. Phone Search[1]

         Petitioner was arrested in the District of Columbia on May 22, 2013 in connection with a series of bank robberies.[2] During the arrest, police handcuffed Petitioner, patted him down, and confiscated his phone. Police transported Petitioner to the police station where police booked Petitioner and placed him into a bullpen. A detective interrogated Petitioner for the first time at which point Petitioner asserted his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. After waiting for some period of time, the detective returned with an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (“FBI”), and they attempted to interrogate Petitioner. Petitioner again asserted his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. Police returned Petitioner to the bullpen.

         Police kept Petitioner's phone with them after the arrest, and searched it hours after the arrest. (It is not clear where Petitioner asserts it was searched - D.C. or Maryland.) On the phone, police found images of Petitioner engaged in sexual acts with a fifteen year-old. Based on these images, Police obtained a search warrant for Petitioner's phone. (ECF No. 80-3, at 3-8).

         Although not included in the motion to vacate, it appears Petitioner was transferred from the District of Columbia to state authorities in Maryland within a couple of days. Eventually, Maryland charges were dismissed in favor of federal prosecution.

         At some point after his arrest, Petitioner obtained counsel. During the course of representation, Petitioner told his attorney what happened in regard to the search of his phone, but his counsel “refused to put in a motion to suppress evidence from [the] cellphone[.]” (ECF No. 80-3, at 6). Counsel did not investigate the search and instead told Petitioner that even if the police had no warrant, they “could search what they want[ed].” (Id. at 1).

         B. Original Proceedings

         On October 16, 2013, Petitioner was indicted for one count conspiracy to commit bank robbery in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371, one count of bank robbery in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a), and one count of production of child pornography in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2251(a). (ECF No. 1). On March 13, 2014, the Government filed a superseding information as to Petitioner. (ECF No. 38). On March 26, Petitioner pled guilty to one count of possession of child pornography and one count of conspiracy to commit bank robbery. (ECF No. 43). On June 16, Petitioner was sentenced to a 144 month term of imprisonment - 120 months for possession of child pornography and a consecutive term of twenty-four months for conspiracy to commit bank robbery. (ECF No. 70).

         C. Current Proceedings

         Petitioner filed a motion to vacate sentence on April 27, 2015. Petitioner argued that counsel was ineffective for failing to move to suppress the pictures found on his phone and for not raising a mistake of fact defense. (ECF No. 80). The Government responded (ECF No. 87), and Petitioner replied (ECF No. 88). Petitioner also filed a motion for immediate grant of evidentiary hearing (ECF No. 92), a motion for release pending the resolution of the § 2255 motion (ECF No. 93), and a motion for an alternative judgment (ECF No. 94).

         II. Motion to Vacate

         Petitioner claims ineffective assistance of counsel on two grounds: (1) that counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate a possible mistake of fact defense; and that counsel was ineffective for not moving to suppress the photos found from the search of his cellphone.[3] (ECF Nos. 80-2, 80-3). The Government argues that counsel was not ineffective because he successfully negotiated a plea agreement ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.