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Awosika v. United States

United States District Court, D. Maryland

May 9, 2019

MICHAEL AWOSIKA, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Ellen L. Hollander United States District Judge.

         This Memorandum Opinion resolves a Motion To Vacate, Set Aside, Or Correct Sentence, filed by Michael Awosika, the self-represented Petitioner, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. ECF 50. Awosika argues that he received ineffective assistance of trial counsel. The government filed an opposition (ECF 55), with exhibits. Thereafter, Awosika filed a “Motion To Correct And Amend 2255” (ECF 59), seeking to add a claim concerning the selection of the grand jury. The government has filed a response in opposition. ECF 60.

         No hearing is necessary to resolve the Petition. For the reasons that follow, I shall deny the Petition.

         I. Factual Summary

         On June 13, 2017, a grand jury sitting in the District of Maryland indicted Awosika on multiple charges, including one count of carjacking on April 8, 2017, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2119; one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c); and one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g). ECF 1.

         Awosika entered a plea of guilty to the carjacking offense on May 8, 2018, pursuant to a plea agreement. ECF 38; ECF 41. The plea was entered under Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(c)(1)(C), by which the parties agreed to a sentence of 15 years of incarceration. ECF 38, ¶¶ 9, 10. That sentence corresponded to the statutory maximum for the offense. ECF 38, ¶ 3. However, it was well below the statutory maximum of life imprisonment, to which defendant was exposed in connection with the firearm offense charged under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). Moreover, if Awosika was convicted of the carjacking, as well as the firearm offense under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), he would have faced a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years, consecutive to any other sentence.

         The Statement of Facts included with the Plea Agreement (ECF 38 at 8) detailed the events of April 8, 2017, during the carjacking of “A.C.”, who was taking her 5-month-old grandson out of the vehicle when the defendant entered the front seat of the vehicle. Id. A Baltimore City Fire Department Captain observed Awosika driving down the road “in a dangerous manner.” Id. The defendant fired two shots at the Captain's vehicle. Id.

         Both in writing (ECF 38 at 9) and orally, defendant stipulated to the facts set forth by the government. See ECF 51 (guilty plea Transcript); ECF 55-2 (same). Awosika, who was under oath (ECF 55-2 at 2), agreed with the accuracy of the government's factual summary. Id. at 34. And, he expressly stated that he committed the crime as summarized by the government, and was pleading guilty freely and voluntarily, because he was guilty, as charged. Id.

         During the plea colloquy, the Court inquired of the defendant whether he had been treated recently for any mental health problems. ECF 55-2 at 4. Awosika advised that he was taking an antidepressant medication. Id. at 5. The Court expressly asked defendant if there was “anything about this medication that somehow clouds your thinking?” Id. at 6. The defendant responded: “No, Ma'am.” Id. In response to an inquiry from the Court, defense counsel advised that she was satisfied her client was mentally able to proceed. Id. at 5. Moreover, the defendant indicated his belief that he was able to proceed. Id. And, the Court observed that the defendant appeared “alert and oriented.” Id. at 6.

         At the guilty plea proceeding, the Court also asked the Petitioner whether he had any “complaints whatsoever” about his attorney's representation. ECF 55-2 at 7. Awosika responded, “No.” Id. Moreover, he answered in the affirmative that he was “fully satisfied with the services” of his attorney. Id. at 8.

         Sentencing was held on July 3, 2018. ECF 44. In accordance with the terms of the C plea, the Court sentenced the defendant to a total term of 180 months' imprisonment as to Count One. ECF 45.

         As noted, Petitioner contends that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. In particular, he claims he told his attorney that he was “insane, ” yet his attorney told the judge that defendant understood the guilty plea proceeding when, in fact, he did not. ECF 50 at 2. He has also added a complaint about the selection of the grand jury.

         II. ...


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