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Williams v. United States

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Delta Division

April 29, 2015

AIREN PAIGE WILLIAMS, Movant,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

SHARION AYCOCK, District Judge.

This matter comes before the court on the motion of Airen Paige Williams to vacate, set aside, or correct her sentence under 28 U.S.C. ยง 2255. The government has responded to the motion; Williams has replied, and the matter is ripe for resolution. For the reasons set forth below, the instant motion to vacate, set aside, or correct sentence will be denied.

Facts and Procedural Posture

A federal grand jury returned a second superseding indictment on June 16, 2011, naming Airen Paige Williams and twenty-five others. Williams initially appeared on July 17, 2011. (Docket No. 373). The conspiracy involved Lonzo Griffin, who was responsible for trafficking marijuana and cocaine hydrochloride from Texas into Mississippi. As the conspiracy progressed, Griffin distributed kilograms of cocaine hydrochloride to Michael Allen and others; Williams acted as a courier. (Plea Tr. 18). On April 28, 2010, Williams was stopped by the Texas Department of Public Safety. A search of her car revealed ten kilograms of cocaine hydrochloride located in a hidden compartment. (Id.).

Williams's first counsel, beginning on August 17, 2011, was David Calder. (Docket No. 375). Calder withdrew from representing Williams on December 5, 2011. (Docket No. 424). Williams's second counsel, beginning on November 18, 2011, was Thomas R. Trout. (Docket No. 416). Williams filed a motion to disqualify Trout on July 9, 2012, which was granted on July 24, 2012. (Docket No. 549, 611). Williams's third counsel, beginning on July 24, 2012, was Paul Chiniche. Chiniche remained Williams's counsel through sentencing, then withdrew as counsel of record on January 2, 2013. (Docket No. 832). Williams filed the instant Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence pro se.

Following Williams's initial appearance, codefendants Ruben Castaneda and Santiago Villalobos were fugitives and had never appeared before the Court. On August 1, 2012, the government filed a Motion to Sever fugitive defendants Castaneda and Villalobos. (Docket No. 652). On August 7, 2012, the court granted the government's motion - and severed Castaneda and Villalobos. (Docket No. 666). Thus, the speedy trial clock for Williams began running on August 7, 2012, and Williams proceeded to trial the next day (August 8, 2012). As such, one day ticked off Williams's speedy trial clock. United States v. Howell, 719 F.2d 1258, 1262 (5th Cir. 1983); United States v. Gonzalez, 671 F.2d 441, 443 (11th Cir. 1982).

On August 9, 2012, one day after trial began, Airen Paige Williams, with the assistance of counsel, entered a plea of guilty to Count One of the Superseding Indictment which charged her with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute five or more kilograms of powder cocaine. (Plea Tr. 1-22). At the hearing, the court advised Williams of her rights, including the right to remain silent, the right to proceed to trial, and the right to maintain her plea of not guilty. (Plea Tr. 3, 5-6). The following exchange occurred regarding Williams's legal representation.

The Court: Are you satisfied with the representation that your attorney has given you in this trial?
Williams: Yes, ma'am, I am.
The Court: As well as in these plea negotiation and proceedings?
Williams: Yes, ma'am.
The Court: And do you believe that he has represented your best interest?
Williams: Yes, I do.

(Plea Tr. 5-6).

The court then asked whether Williams was entering the plea knowingly and voluntarily:

The Court: Are you entering this plea freely and ...

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