United States District Court, D. Maryland
W. TITUS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
pending before the Court are Petitioner's (1) Motion
Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct
Sentence (“Motion to Vacate”) (ECF No. 132), (2)
Motion to Amend 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside,
or Correct Sentence (“Motion to Amend”) (ECF No.
143) and a Supplement to his Motion to Amend
(“Supplement”) (ECF No. 150), (3) Motion to Hold
Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence in Abeyance
(“Motion to Hold in Abeyance”) (ECF No. 149), and
(4) Motion to Incorporate Exhibits and Appoint Counsel
(“Motion to Appoint Counsel”) (ECF No. 151). For
the reasons discussed below, the Court will deny all four
about May 2012 through August 2012, Petitioner planned and
committed a series of armed robberies of two courier
companies. ECF No. 64-1 at 10. The last robbery committed on
August 31, 2012 was captured on video surveillance recording.
Id. at 12. Employees of the warehouse in which the
robbery took place identified Petitioner from the video
recording. Id. Officers of the Prince George's
County Police Department included two witness identification
statements in their Application for Statement of Charges
(“Statement of Charges”) against Petitioner. ECF
No. 74-1. In a post-Miranda interview, Petitioner
admitted his involvement in the robberies. ECF No. 64-1 at
also interviewed Petitioner's daughter, Janean Sampson
(“Ms. Sampson”). ECF No. 138 at 8. Ms. Sampson
gave consent for officers to search her apartment in
Baltimore, Maryland in which Petitioner had been residing.
Id. Although the Government initially told
Petitioner that the interview with Ms. Sampson was not
recorded, see ECF No. 85 at 18 n.7, the interview
was, in fact, recorded, see ECF No. 88 at 2. The
Government provided Petitioner with a copy of the recording
as soon as a copy was obtained. Id. The recording
begins at approximately 12:30 a.m. and lasts for about two
hours. ECF No. 138 at 4. During the search of Ms.
Sampson's apartment, officers discovered pharmaceuticals
and other evidence in a closet used by Petitioner.
Id. at 3 They then applied for and received a search
warrant for the apartment, issued by Judge Northrop of the
Circuit Court for Prince George's County. Id.
was ultimately charged by a nine-count Superseding Indictment
with (1) one count of conspiracy to interfere with interstate
commerce by robbery, (2) one count of conspiracy to possess
with intent to distribute controlled substances, (3) three
counts of interference with interstate commerce by robbery,
(4) three counts of using, carrying, and/or brandishing a
firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, and
(5) one count of possession of a controlled substance with
intent to distribute. ECF No. 42. On October 21, 2013,
Petitioner pleaded guilty to three of those counts: (1)
conspiracy to interfere with interstate commerce by robbery,
in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951, (2) interference with
interstate commerce by robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 1951, and (3) the use, carrying, and brandishing of a
firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). ECF No. 63; ECF No. 64.
Petitioner's guilty plea and through sentencing,
Petitioner and his counsel asserted numerous challenges to
the Government's case. For example, Petitioner and his
counsel filed multiple motions to suppress evidence and
witness testimony statements (ECF No. 36; ECF No. 37), a
motion to dismiss the charges for violations of the Speedy
Trial Act (ECF No. 34), two motions to withdraw his guilty
plea (ECF No. 73; ECF No. 77), and a motion to dismiss the
charges for lack of jurisdiction based on a violation of the
Double Jeopardy Clause (ECF No. 75). Petitioner's counsel
also challenged Judge Northrop's authority to issue the
search warrant for Ms. Sampson's apartment, arguing that
Judge Northrop had authority to issue warrants only within
Prince George's County, which does not include Baltimore,
and thus the warrant was invalid. See ECF No. 80 at
9-10. A hearing was held on these motions on September 12,
2014. All of the motions were ultimately denied, either at
the hearing or by order on September 15, 2014. ECF No. 96;
ECF No. 100.
September 23, 2014, the Court sentenced Petitioner to
imprisonment for a total of 300 months, five years of
supervised release, $292, 875.09 in restitution, and a $300
special assessment. ECF No. 106; ECF No. 122. Petitioner
appealed the judgment against him to the Fourth Circuit,
which affirmed on November 10, 2015. ECF No. 127. The Fourth
Circuit denied Petitioner's petition for a rehearing and
rehearing en banc on January 20, 2016. ECF No. 130.
Petitioner then filed a petition for a writ of certiorari in
the U.S. Supreme Court, which was denied on June 6, 2016.
Sampson v. United States, No. 15-9159 (U.S. June 6,
2016); ECF No. 132 at 2.
26, 2017, Petitioner filed his Motion to Vacate in this
Court. ECF No. 132. On July 19, 2017, he filed a Motion to
Hold in Abeyance Pending 28 U.S.C. § 2255, in which he
asked the Court to stay any decision on his Motion to Vacate
until the Fourth Circuit ruled on the petition for writ of
mandamus he filed with the Court of Appeals, United
States v. Sampson, No. 14-4744 (4th Cir. July 17, 2017),
ECF No. 78. ECF No. 135. The Court denied Petitioner's
Motion to Hold in Abeyance as moot after the Fourth Circuit
denied his petition for writ of mandamus as moot on July 17,
2017. ECF No. 142 (citing United States v. Sampson,
No. 14-4744 (4th Cir. July 17, 2017), ECF No. 79).
Government filed its Response in Opposition to
Petitioner's Motion to Vacate on August 15, 2017. ECF No.
138. Petitioner filed his Reply on September 18, 2017. ECF
No. 141. Petitioner then filed his Motion to Amend on
November 3, 2017. ECF No. 143. The Government filed its
Response in Opposition to the Motion to Amend on November 7,
2017, ECF No. 144, and Petitioner filed his Reply on November
17, 2017, ECF No. 145. Petitioner filed his Supplement on
April 26, 2018. ECF No. 150.
February 1, 2018, Petitioner filed a Motion to Recuse the
undersigned from considering Petitioner's Motion to
Vacate, ECF No. 146, which the Court denied by order on March
22, 2018, ECF No. 148. Petitioner then filed a second
petition for writ of mandamus in the Fourth Circuit on April
2, 2018, challenging the undersigned's neutrality in
deciding his Motion to Vacate. In re Robert Sampson,
No. 18-1362 (4th Cir. Apr. 2, 2018), ECF No. 2. Petitioner
subsequently filed his Motion to Hold in Abeyance in this
Court, requesting the Court to refrain from deciding his
Motion to Vacate until the Fourth Circuit rules on his
petition for writ of mandamus. ECF No. 149. Most recently,
Petitioner filed his Motion to Appoint Counsel on June 13,
Motion to Vacate, Petitioner brings five claims, some of
which are interrelated. The first three claims assert that
Petitioner's counsel was ineffective, the fourth claim
asserts that the first hour and half of the video recording
of Ms. Sampson's interview with law enforcement was
deleted, resulting in a Brady violation, and the
fifth claim asserts that the Court lacked jurisdiction over
Petitioner's case. ECF No. 132. In his Motion to Amend,
Petitioner adds two new claims of ineffective assistance of
counsel, both related to the state charges for the armed
robberies initially brought against Petitioner. ECF No.
143-1. In his Supplement, Petitioner adds an eighth claim,
arguing that his conviction under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) is
no longer valid in light of Johnson v. United
States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015), and Dimaya v.
Lynch, 803 F.3d 1110 (9th Cir. 2015). ECF No. 150. In
his Motion to Appoint Counsel, Petitioner asks the Court to
incorporate exhibits into his Motion to Amend and to appoint
counsel. ECF No. 151.
Motion to Vacate
prevail on a § 2255 motion, a petitioner must prove by a
preponderance of the evidence that “[his] sentence was
imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the
United States, or that the court was without jurisdiction to
impose such sentence, or that the sentence was in excess of
the maximum authorized by law, or is otherwise subject to
collateral attack . . . .” 28 U.S.C. § 2255
(2012); Miller v. United States, 261 F.2d 546, 547
(4th Cir. 1958). A claim which does not challenge the
constitutionality of a sentence or the court's
jurisdiction is cognizable in a § 2255 motion only if
the alleged violation constitutes a “miscarriage of
justice.” United States v. Addonizio, 442 U.S.
178, 185 (1979). Collateral attack is not a substitute for
direct appeal; therefore the failure to raise certain issues
on direct appeal may render them procedurally defaulted on
habeas review. United States v. Frady, 456 U.S. 152,
165 (1982). If the § 2255 motion, along with the files
and records of the case, “conclusively show that [the
petitioner] is entitled to no relief, ” a hearing on
the motion is unnecessary and the claims raised in the motion
may be dismissed summarily. 28 U.S.C. § 2255;
Miller, 261 F.2d at 547. Pro se petitions
are liberally construed. Erickson v. Pardus, 551
U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam).
Petitioner's Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Claims
first three claims assert that his trial counsel did not
provide effective assistance under the Sixth Amendment by
failing to challenge (1) the arrest warrant based on
purported errors in the State of Charges, (2) Judge
Northrop's authority to issue the search warrant, and (3)
the Court's propriety in contacting the Court of Appeals
of Maryland in determining Judge Northrop's authority to
issue the search warrant. ECF No. 132 at 4-6. None of these
claims has legal merit.
examine claims of ineffective assistance of counsel under the
two-prong test set forth in Strickland v.
Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984). To succeed on an
ineffective assistance claim, a petitioner must show: (1) his
attorney's performance fell below an objective standard
of reasonableness, and (2) he suffered actual prejudice.
Strickland, 466 U.S. at 687. Under the
“performance” prong, the alleged deficiency must
be objectively unreasonable and “requires showing that
counsel made errors so serious that counsel was not
functioning as the ‘counsel' guaranteed the
defendant by the Sixth Amendment.” Id. at 689.
The Court must evaluate the conduct at issue from
counsel's perspective at the time, and must
“indulge a strong presumption that counsel's
conduct falls within the wide range of reasonable
professional assistance.” Id.
the “prejudice” prong, the alleged deficiency
must have prejudiced the defendant, and, but for
counsel's unprofessional errors, there is a reasonable
probability that the result of the proceeding would have been
different. Id. at 687, 694. “[I]n the guilty
plea context, a person challenging his conviction must
establish ‘a reasonable probability that, but for
counsel's errors, he would not have pleaded guilty and
would have insisted on going to trial.'” United
States v. Fugit, 703 F.3d 248, 260 (4th Cir. 2012)
(citation omitted). The court must determine that such a
decision “would be rational under the circumstances,
” and therefore a petitioner's subjective
preferences are not dispositive. Id. (citations
omitted). A petitioner must meet the requirements under both
prongs to prevail. Strickland, 466 U.S at 669.
Petitioner's Claim of Ineffective Assistance for Not
Challenging the Arrest Warrant Fails Both Strickland
first claim, Petitioner asserts that his counsel was
ineffective for failing to investigate supposed errors in the
arrest warrant and, as a result, his guilty plea was not
knowing and voluntary. ECF No. 132-1 at 1-3. Petitioner asserts
that the warrant falsely stated that witnesses positively
identified Petitioner from the video surveillance recording
of the August 31, 2013 robbery-that is that the 6:24 a.m.
identification cited to in the Statement of Charges never
occurred. Id.; ECF No. 141 at 2. This fabrication is
evidenced, he argues, by the fact that the witnesses'
identification statements were made at 12:09 p.m. and 11:05
a.m., and not at 6:24 a.m., the time the Statement of Charges
states the identifications were made. ECF No. 132-1 at 1-3.
This is further supported, Petitioner asserts, by the fact
that Officer Bayes's report, which was included in the
Statement of Charges by the affiant, Detective J. Boulden,