United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Aberdeen Division
H. DAVIDSON SENIOR U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the court on the motion of George Fields
to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence under 28 U.S.C.
§2255. The government has responded to the motion, and
the matter is ripe for resolution.
and Procedural Posture
was involved in a drug trafficking organization in Clay and
Chickasaw Counties that was led by Christopher
Graham. ECF doc. 474, pg. 19. In total, Graham
provided Fields with approximately twelve (12) ounces of
methamphetamine over the course of seven (7) months, which
Fields distributed. Id. Fields sometimes paid for
the product in advance and was sometimes fronted the
methamphetamine by Graham, who was paid after Fields had sold
the drugs. Id. On May 21, 2015, a confidential
source, using official funds, purchased one (1) ounce of
methamphetamine from Fields for $1, 550.00, in Okolona,
Mississippi. Id. The D.E.A. tested the purchased
substance and found it to contain approximately 21.6 grams of
methamphetamine. Id. On July 16, 2015, a
confidential source, using official funds, purchased two (2)
ounces of methamphetamine from Fields in Clay County for $2,
400.00. Id. The D.E.A. also tested this substance
and found it to contain approximately 54.7 grams of
methamphetamine. Id. During each of these sales,
Fields told the confidential source that he would have to
contact his source to obtain that amount of methamphetamine,
and analysis confirmed that Fields had communicated with a
phone used by Graham before and after each of these sales.
Id. Both transactions were also captured on
surveillance. Id. Finally, a court-authorized
wire-tap confirmed that Graham was Fields' supplier.
Id. at 20.
was indicted on charges of conspiracy to distribute
methamphetamine (Count I) and distribution of methamphetamine
(Counts VI and VII), in a Superseding Indictment entered in
December 10, 2015. ECF doc. 51. Fields initially pleaded not
guilty to all charges. ECF doc. 128. On June 29, 2016, Fields
pleaded guilty to Counts I, VI, and VII of the superseding
indictment and was sentenced to serve a term of fifty-eight
(58) months on each of Counts I, VI, and VII, to be served
concurrently, as well as three (3) years of supervised
release on each count, to run concurrently. ECF docs. 235 and
310. In addition, the charges against Field in the original
indictment were dismissed. Id. On September 26,
2017, Fields filed a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct
his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C.A. §2255. ECF doc.
467. The Court has considered the merits of Fields'
petition and, for the reasons discussed below, finds that
relief is not warranted in this case.
of §2255 Review
are four grounds upon which a federal prisoner may seek to
vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence: (1) that the
sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws
of the United States; (2) that the court was without
jurisdiction to impose the sentence; (3) that the sentence
exceeds the statutory maximum sentence; or (4) that the
sentence is "otherwise subject to collateral
attack." 28 U.S.C. § 2255; see United States v.
Cates, 952 F.2d 149, 151 (5th Cir. 1992). The scope of
relief under § 2255 is the same as that of a petition
for a writ of habeas corpus. Cates, 952 F.2d at 151.
defendant seeking relief under 28 U.S.C. §2255 may not
do so to raise issues that could have been raised on appeal.
United States v. Walling, 982 F.2d 447, 448-449
(10th Cir. 1992). A petitioner may not raise constitutional
issues for the first time on post-conviction collateral
review unless he shows cause for failing to raise the issue
on direct appeal and actual prejudice resulting from the
error. United States v. Pierce, 959 F.2d 1297, 1301
(5th Cir. 1992), cert. denied, 506 U.S. 1007 (1992);
United States v. Shaid, 937 F.2d 228, 232 (5th Cir.
1991). The burden of showing "cause, " an
"objective factor external to the defense, " rests
with the petitioner. McCleskey v. Zant, 111 S.Ct.
1454, 1470(1991). No other types of errors may be raised on
collateral review unless the petitioner demonstrates that the
error could not have been raised on direct appeal, and if not
corrected, would result in a complete miscarriage of justice.
Pierce, 959 F.2d at 1301; Shaid, 937 F.2d
at 232. Further, if a claim is raised and considered on
direct appeal, a defendant is may not raise the issue in a
later collateral attack. Moore v. United States, 598
F.2d 439, 441 (5th Cir. 1979).
instant §2255 motion, Fields makes the following claim
for relief, which the court has restated for clarity:
Ground One: Fields' attorney was
constitutionally ineffective for failing to ask the court to
consider whether Fields played a minor role in the conspiracy
pursuant to §3B1.2 of the Sentencing Guidelines.
Ground Two: Field's attorney led him to
believe the sentence would be thirty-six (36)
for Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Claims
U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that claims of ineffective
assistance of counsel are governed by the standard laid out
in Strickland v. Washington,466 U.S. 668 (1984). To
merit habeas corpus relief on a claim of ineffective
assistance of counsel, a habeas petitioner must satisfy the
two-prong test set out in Strickland, supra, by
demonstrating both constitutionally deficient performance by
counsel and actual prejudice as a result of such ineffective
assistance. See also Motley v. Collins, 18 F.3d
1223, 1226 (5th Cir. 1994) (summarizing the
Strickland standard of review). A petitioner's
failure to establish both prongs of the Strickland