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Miguel Lebron v. United States of America

January 8, 2013

MIGUEL LEBRON, PETITIONER,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Jerome B. Simandle

OPINION

SIMANDLE, Chief Judge:

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter is before the Court on the government's motion to dismiss Petitioner Miguel Lebron's pro se application for habeas corpus relief vacating his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. [Docket Item 10.] Petitioner pled guilty to a one-count Information charging him with engaging in the unlawful business of dealing in firearms without a license, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(a)(1)(A). Petitioner was sentenced to 60 months imprisonment.

Petitioner's present habeas petition asserts that he did not have effective assistance of counsel when negotiating his plea and that the government attorney failed to disclose exculpatory evidence in violation of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), prior to his plea. [Docket Item 1.] Specifically, Petitioner maintains that the detective who executed the search warrant against him was being investigated for engaging in corrupt practices. The Petitioner maintains that this detective was central to the government's case against him and if Petitioner had known this detective was being investigated for corrupt conduct, he would not have plead and would have challenged the strength of the government's case in chief at trial.

For the reasons discussed herein, the court will deny Petitioner's application for habeas corpus relief. The Petitioner knowingly and voluntarily waived his right to collaterally attack his sentence when he entered into his plea agreement. Additionally, the Petitioner cannot establish viable claims for prosecutorial misconduct or ineffective assistance of counsel because the government did not charge the Petitioner for offenses based on the items that were seized during the search warrant and the government disclosed to Petitioner's counsel during plea negotiations that it did not intend to call or use the detective as a witness because of the administrative issues surrounding his questionable conduct.

II. BACKGROUND

On June 22, 2010, the United States Attorney's Office provided Petitioner Miguel Lebron with a letter notifying him that he was the target of a federal criminal investigation. Petitioner then received court appointed counsel, Assistant Public Defender Thomas Young, in connection with the investigation. On February 7, 2011, Petitioner entered a guilty plea to a one-count Information charging that between in or about September 2009 and in or about December 2009, Petitioner engaged in the unlawful business of dealing in firearms without a license, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(a)(1)(A). (Resp't's Ex. A.)

As a result of his guilty plea, Petitioner was sentenced to 60 months imprisonment on May 26, 2011. (Resp't's Ex. C.) The Petitioner did not file an appeal. On May 16, 2012, Petitioner timely filed this motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence. [Docket Item 1.] In lieu of filing an answer, the Respondent filed the instant motion to dismiss. [Docket Item 10.] Petitioner has not filed opposition to Respondent's motion.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Standard of Review

Under § 2255(a), a federal prisoner may move to vacate, set aside or correct a sentence on the ground that the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or federal law, the sentencing court was without jurisdiction, or the sentence is in excess of the maximum authorized by law or is otherwise subject to collateral attack. The district court shall grant a hearing to determine the issues and make findings of fact and conclusions of law. § 2255(b). However, if the motion, files and records of the case conclusively show that the prisoner is not entitled to relief, the petition will be denied. Id.; see also United States v. McCoy, 410 F.3d 124, 131-32 (3d Cir. 2005) (holding a district court must grant an evidentiary hearing unless the record before it conclusively showed the petitioner was not entitled to relief).

Generally, an evidentiary hearing must be held to resolve issues of fact falling outside the record of the case. United States v. Costanzo, 625 F.2d 465, 470 (3d Cir. 1980). However, a hearing need not be held if the petition raises no legally cognizable claim, or if the factual matters raised by the petition may be resolved through the district court's review of the motions and the records in the case, or, in some circumstances, if the court, in its discretion, finds the movant's claims to be too vague, conclusory or palpably incredible. Id. (quoting Machibroda v. United States, 368 U.S. 487, 495 (1962)). Government affidavits filed in opposition to a petition for § 2255 relief are not part of the files and records of the case and are not conclusive against the petitioner. Id.

Furthermore, not every asserted error of law may be raised on a ยง 2255 motion. See Davis v. United States, 417 U.S. 333, 346 (1974). The appropriate inquiry is whether the claimed error is a "fundamental defect which inherently results in a complete miscarriage of justice" and whether it presents "exceptional circumstances where the need for the remedy afforded by the ...


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