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Buckley v. United States, Crim. A.

United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia, Elkins

September 19, 2017

LENNOX BUCKLEY, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent. Civil Action No. 2:16-CV-56

          ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          JOHN PRESTON BAILEY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On this day, the above-styled matter came before this Court for consideration of the Report and Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge Robert W. Trumble [Crim. Doc. 80; Civ. Doc. 9]. Pursuant to this Court's Local Rules, this action was referred to Magistrate Judge Trumble for submission of a proposed report and recommendation ("R&R"). Magistrate Judge Trumble filed his R&R on July 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">13, 201');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">17, wherein he recommends this Court deny and dismiss the petitioner's motion with prejudice.

         L BACKGROUND[1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1" name="FN1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1" id= "FN1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1]

         Petitioner entered into a plea agreement in which he agreed to plead guilty to a one count information charging him with distribution of over 50 kilograms of marijuana, in exchange for the dismissal of several charges in an earlier indictment [Civ. Doc. 8, p. 2], The last paragraph of the agreement states that "[t]he above sixteen (1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">16) paragraphs constitute the entire agreement between Mr. Buckley and the United States of America in this Matter. There are no agreements, understandings or promises between the parties other than those contained in this agreement." Id. at 5. The petitioner signed and dated each page of the plea agreement. Id. at 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1-5. At no point in the written plea agreement or the oral summary of the agreement at the plea hearing does the Government agree to waive or not pursue a gun enhancement at sentencing. Id.

         Magistrate Judge John Kaull conducted a plea hearing on April 8, 201');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">14, wherein the Government summarized the terms of the agreement, and the petitioner affirmed that the agreement summarized by the Government was the agreement he had reached with the U.S. Attorney's Office [Crim. Doc. 68-1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1, p. 21');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1]. Magistrate Judge Kaull conducted a Rule 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">11');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1 colloquy, in which petitioner affirmed that he was "completely satisfied with the legal assistance, counseling, and actions" of his counsel, Deirdre Purdy ("Purdy") [Crim. Doc. 68-1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1, p. 35]. Additionally, petitioner affirmed that there were no additional representations or promises made to induce him to plead guilty outside of what was listed in the plea agreement. Id.

         After sentencing, the petitioner appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. His appeal was dismissed on April 9, 201');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">15 as barred by a valid appellate waiver [Crim. Doc. 54]. Subsequently, petitioner filed the instant Motion to Vacate, Set Aside or Correct Sentence (2255) on July 5, 201');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">16 [Civ. Doc. 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1].

         In his motion, petitioner raised three issues: (1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1) whether trial counsel was ineffective for failing to obtain a memorialized waiver in his plea agreement of a gun enhancement that was orally discussed with the Assistant U.S. Attorney; (2) whether trial counsel was ineffective when she did not argue that the plea agreement was void and should be withdrawn because it was breached by the Government and was not voluntary, knowing, or intelligent; and (3) whether trial counsel was ineffective when she allowed the petitioner to plead guilty to a conditional guilty plea on a non-dispositive pretrial suppression issue, and whether appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to argue this as a clear error on appeal [Civ. Doc. 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1-1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1, p. 4');">p. 4]. The R&R thoroughly addressed each of these arguments, and found that the petitioner's claims lacked merit and recommended dismissal with prejudice.

         The petitioner timely filed objections to the R&R on July 31');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1, 201');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">17 [Civ. Doc. 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">11');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1]. The petitioner's objections make limited reference to the R&R and the remainder is a general restatement and elaboration of claims the R&R thoroughly addressed. The discernible objections to specific portions of the R&R will be discussed in turn.

         II. APPLICABLE LAW

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1)(c), this Court is required to make a de novo review of those portions of the magistrate judge's findings to which objection is made. However, the Court is not required to review, under a de novo or any other standard, the factual or legal conclusions of the magistrate judge as to those portions of the findings or recommendation to which no objections are addressed. Thomas v. Arn, 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">140');">474 U.S. 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">140, 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">150 (1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1985). Nor is this Court required to conduct a de novo review when the party makes only "general and conclusory objections that do not direct the court to a specific error in the magistrate's proposed findings and recommendations." Orpiano v. Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1982).

         In addition, failure to file timely objections constitutes a waiver of de novo review and the right to appeal this Court's Order. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1); Snyder v. Ridenour, 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1363');">889 F.2d 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1363, 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1366 (4th Cir. 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1989); United States v. Schronce, 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">727 F.2d 91');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1, 94 (4th Cir. 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1984). Pro se filings must be liberally construed and held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by licensed attorneys, however, courts are not required to create objections where none exist. Haines v. Kerner, 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">19');">404 U.S. 51');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">19, 520 (1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1972); Gordon v. Leeke, 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">11');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">147');">574 F.2d 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">11');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">147, 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">11');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">151');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1 (4th Cir. 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1971');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1).

         Here, objections to Magistrate Judge Trumble's R&R were due within fourteen (1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">14) days of receipt, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1) and Rule 72(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The petitioner timely filed his Objections on July 31');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1, 201');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">17 [Civ. Doc. 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">11');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1]. Accordingly, this Court will review the portions of the R&R to which objection was filed under a de novo standard of review. The docket reflects that service was accepted on July 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">17, 201');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">17 [Civ. Doc. 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10]. The remainder of the R&R will be reviewed for clear error.

         III. DISCUSSION

         First, petitioner objects that the magistrate judge failed to consider "any of my assertions filed and incorporated in my response brief which extend to the United States' reply brief." [Civ. Doc. 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">11');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1]. This Court reviewed the petitioner's response brief, [Crim. Doc. 79], and found that it does not raise any new arguments or issues for review that were not already ...


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