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Walker v. United States

United States District Court, D. Maryland

May 14, 2019



          Ellen L. Hollander United States District Judge

         This Memorandum Opinion resolves a Motion To Vacate, Set Aside, Or Correct Sentence (the “Petition”), filed under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 by Courtney Walker, the self-represented Petitioner. ECF 389. The Petition is supported by exhibits. See ECF 389-2. In sum, Petitioner alleges ineffective assistance of counsel, claiming his attorney failed to object to the decision of the trial judge not to award credit for time that Petitioner spent in State custody on a matter related to the underlying federal offenses.

         The government opposes the Petition. ECF 14. It has also provided the Court with several exhibits. Mr. Walker has not replied, and the time to do so has expired.

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255(b), a hearing is required “[u]nless the motion and the files and records of the case conclusive show the prisoner is entitled to no relief . . . .” This is such a case. No. hearing is necessary. For the reasons that follow, I shall deny the Petition.

         I. Procedural and Factual Background

         Petitioner was indicted on October 27, 2015, along with twelve codefendants. ECF 1. He was charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1349 (Count One); bank fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1344 (Count Ten); and aggravated identity theft, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1028A (Count Eleven). Id.

         On December 1, 2016, Petitioner entered a plea of guilty before Judge Marvin J. Garbis, to whom the case was then assigned, as to Counts One and Eleven. ECF 188.[1] The plea was entered pursuant to a Plea Agreement. ECF 189.

         The government has submitted a copy of the transcript for the guilty plea proceeding. See ECF 417-1. At that proceeding, the prosecutor advised the court that the government was restricting its loss calculation to losses that occurred within the State of Maryland. Id. at 17.

         Defense counsel informed the court that the defendant had been “continuously incarcerated for more than three years” as of that time. Id. at 19. Therefore, he told the court that he would be asking the court “to vary from the sentence at the time of sentencing because [the defendant] effectively doesn't get credit for those three years because he's serving another sentence, even though it's substantially related conduct to this case because it's doing the same thing with the same people, albeit in South Carolina state.” Defense counsel submitted a sentencing memorandum, which addressed several issues. ECF 325. Among them, defense counsel reiterated that the defendant was incarcerated in South Carolina “for exactly the same type of conduct that makes up the charges at bar, albeit in a different state.” Id. at 2.

         Sentencing was held on August 3, 2017. ECF 336. A copy of the Sentencing Transcript is docketed at ECF 417-2.

         At sentencing, defense counsel again pursued the matter of the time that defendant had spent serving a South Carolina sentence on related conduct. Defense counsel told Judge Garbis that the defendant had already “been locked up four years [as of] next month in South Carolina for essentially doing the same thing . . . .” ECF 417-2 at 17. Further, defense counsel expressly made the point that the Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) “won't give credit for that South Carolina time, because it's time credited against another sentence.” Id. at 18.

         The prosecutor also addressed the matter stating, in part, id. at 19: “[S]tarting the day that his South Carolina sentence ended officially according to South Carolina authorities, he will get credit that will be applied to this sentence starting on that date.” Judge Garbis noted that the defendant's “federal sentence starts when the South Carolina sentence ended.” Id. The court agreed that, in effect, the defendant would receive a consecutive sentence. Id. at 19-20. Defense counsel reiterated that such a result “seems harsh”, and he urged the court to impose a variant sentence. Id. at 20.

         The court made clear, however, that the matter of credit must be resolved by the BOP. He indicated that the defendant would have the right to contest the BOP's decision in the court located “wherever he's incarcerated.” Id. at 21.

         Judge Garbis imposed a total sentence of five years. ECF 417-2 at 32; ECF 339. Thereafter, defense counsel asked, ECF 417-2 at 33: “So the record is clear, is the sentence of this Court concurrent with the South Carolina sentence?” The court responded, id.: “No. It's consecutive to the South Carolina sentence.”

         A few weeks after sentencing, Mr. Walker wrote a letter to Judge Garbis, claiming that the government had promised, and the court said, he should get credit for time served in the South Carolina case. ECF 417-3 at 3-4. ...

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