Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Watson

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division

June 25, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA PLAINTIFF
v.
ANTHONY WATSON DEFENDANT

          ORDER

          CARLTON W. REEVES, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is Anthony Watson's pro se petition for habeas relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. He seeks relief from his 300-month sentence imposed after pleading guilty to second-degree murder. Having considered the issues presented, the record, and relevant authorities, the Court finds that the Motion should be granted in part to allow an evidentiary hearing on Defendant's claim that his attorney was ineffective for failing to timely file a notice of appeal, and dismissed in all other respects.

         I. Background

         On March 18, 2015, a federal grand jury returned a three-count indictment charging Anthony Watson and his co-defendant Joshua Martin with the unlawful murder of Sharod Vaughn during a drug-trafficking crime. In lieu of proceeding on the original charges, Watson agreed to waive superseding indictment and proceed on a single-count information alleging second-degree murder. Pursuant to a written plea agreement, Watson appeared before this Court with his lawyer, Aafram Y. Sellers, on May 20, 2016, to plead guilty to the information. The Court sentenced Watson to 300 months in prison on September 22, 2016. Watson did not appeal, having waived the right to do so.

         On September 25, 2017, Watson filed this petition, contending that Sellers (a) erroneously advised him of the consequences of his guilty plea, and (b) failed to appeal his sentence. Watson has requested that an evidentiary hearing be held on his claims.

         II. Legal Standard

A prisoner in custody under sentence of a court established by Act of Congress claiming the right to be released upon the ground that the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, or that the court was without jurisdiction to impose such sentence, or that the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law, or is otherwise subject to collateral attack, may move the court which imposed the sentence to vacate, set aside or correct the sentence.

28 U.S.C. § 2255(a).

         Generally, “an informed and voluntary waiver of post-conviction relief is effective to bar such relief.” United States v. Wilkes, 20 F.3d 651, 653 (5th Cir. 1994). “[W]hen the record of the Rule 11 hearing clearly indicates that a defendant has read and understands his plea agreement, and that he raised no question regarding a waiver-of-appeal provision, the defendant will be held to the bargain to which he agreed.” United States v. Portillo, 18 F.3d 290, 293 (5th Cir. 1994). Claims of ineffective assistance of counsel are excepted from the general rule and may be brought in a § 2255 proceeding, but “only when the claimed [ineffective] assistance directly affected the validity of that waiver or the plea itself.” United States v. White, 307 F.3d 336, 343 (5th Cir. 2002)

         III. Discussion

         A. Waiver

         The record reveals that Watson knowingly and voluntarily waived his right to challenge his sentence via § 2255 petition. Watson's appeal waiver is contained in the written plea agreement that he and his attorney read and signed. See Docket No. 16 at 4-6. It was also discussed at the change of plea hearing, where Watson specifically confirmed that he had read and discussed with his counsel, understood, signed, and agreed with the terms of the plea agreement and plea supplement. See Audio of Change of Plea Hearing, May 20, 2016, at 13:35-16:00. Additionally, Watson advised the Court that when discussing these documents with Sellers, Sellers permitted him to ask questions about the documents and counsel answered those questions to Watson's satisfaction. Id. The Court performed a detailed probing of Watson's comprehension of the guilty plea and its consequences, including all rights waived, and Watson's responses demonstrated that he was competent, knew the appeal rights he was giving up, and did so freely in order to plead guilty. Id. at 19:10-20:15.

         Given this record, Watson's appeal waiver must be enforced as to his claims for relief under § 2255.

         B. Ineffective ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.