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United States v. Scaife

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division

February 21, 2014



ROBERT E. PAYNE, Senior District Judge.

Timothy Lee Scaife, a federal inmate proceeding pro se, submitted this motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence ("§ 2255 Motion"). (ECF No. 45.) In his § 2255 Motion, Scaife argues entitlement to relief upon the following claims of ineffective assistance of trial counsel:[1]

Claim One: Counsel failed to challenge the sufficiency of the arrest warrant. (§ 2255 Mot. 3.)
Claim Two Counsel failed to move to suppress illegally obtained evidence from Scaife's house. (Id.)
Claim Three: Counsel failed to investigate whether the search violated Scaife's Fourth Amendment[2] rights because no federal search warrant existed.[3] (Id.)
Claim Four: Counsel failed to raise a Double Jeopardy[4] challenge to Scaife's federal charges. (Id.)
Claim Five: Counsel "prematurely with[drew] career offender objection prior to obtaining the defendant's state prior convictions; therefore, allowing the government to use a[n] improper State prior conviction to sentence defendant as a career offender." (§ 2255 Mot. 14 (spelling corrected)).[5]

Thereafter, Scaife filed two supplemental pleadings. In his First Supplemental Brief (ECF No. 47-1), [6] Scaife adds the following claim:

Claim Six: Appellate counsel rendered ineffective assistance by failing to raise on appeal Fourth Amendment issues, a challenge to the application of sentencing factors, and claims of ineffective assistance of trial counsel. (First Supp'l Br. 2.)

In his Second Supplemental Brief (ECF No. 48-1), Scaife adds the following claims:[7]

Claim Seven: Counsel failed to challenge the drug weight based upon the $5500 seized by federal agents which was converted into 200 grams of cocaine base. (Second Supp'1 Br. 1.)
Claim Eight: Counsel lodged no objection to the Government's failure to identify which convictions were used for the career offender classification and for failing "to introduce on the record either the statutes of conviction or the certified copies of [the] convictions." (Second Supp'1 Br. 2.)

The Government filed its responses. (ECF Nos. 52, 62.) Scaife has replied. (ECF No. 66.) The matter is ripe for disposition.


The grand jury charged Scaife in a four count indictment with distributing more than five grams of cocaine base on June 3, 2009 (Count One), distributing more than five grams of cocaine base on June 9, 2009 (Count Two), distributing more than five grams of cocaine base on June 11, 2009 (Count Three), and knowingly possessing with the intent to distribute more than fifty grams of cocaine base on September 28, 2009 (Count Four). (Indictment 1-2, ECF No. 9.) Pursuant to a negotiated plea agreement, Scaife pled guilty to Count One of the Indictment, and the Government dismissed Counts Two, Three, and Four. (Plea Agreement ¶¶ 1, 11, ECF No. 15.)

Scaife "stipulate[d] that the allegations in the Criminal Indictment and the following facts are true and correct and that had the matter gone to trial, the United States could have proven each of them beyond a reasonable doubt." (Statement of Facts 1, ECF No. 16.) Scaife stipulated to the following facts:

1. On June 3, 2009, a confidential informant ("CI") secretly coopering [sic] with law enforcement conducted a controlled purchase of approximately 5.372 grams of cocaine base from SCAIFE with $180.00 in Henrico County Police recorded funds. The transaction occurred on the lot of Xtreme Auto, 404 Williamsburg Road, Sandston, Virginia. TIMOTHY SCAIFE is one of the proprietors of this business.
2. On or about June 3, 2009, in the Eastern District of Virginia and within the jurisdiction of this Court TIMOTHY LEE SCAIFE, a.k.a. "Timothy John Scaife, " did knowingly, intentionally, and unlawfully distribute more than 5 grams of a mixture and substance containing detectable amounts of cocaine base, commonly known as "crack, " a schedule II controlled substance.
3. The parties herein agree that, for purposes of sentencing, the relevant drug weight for which TIMOTHY LEE SCAIFE will be held accountable will not exceed 149 grams of cocaine base.

(Id. ¶¶ 1-3.)

The Court conducted a Rule 11 colloquy, and accepted Scaife's guilty plea. Thereafter, the Court sentenced Scaife to 235 months of imprisonment. (J. 2, ECF No. 26.) Notwithstanding the waiver of the right to appeal in the Plea Agreement (Plea Agreement ¶ 6), Scaife timely filed a notice of appeal. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed Scaife's conviction in part and dismissed Scaife's appeal of his sentence. United States v. Scaife, 406 F.Appx. 824, 825-26 (4th Cir. 2011). Scaife then filed this § 2255 Motion.


To demonstrate ineffective assistance of counsel, a convicted defendant must show first, that counsel's representation was deficient and second, that the deficient performance prejudiced the defense. Strickland v. Washington , 466 U.S. 668, 687 (1984). To satisfy the deficient performance prong of Strickland, the convicted defendant must overcome the "strong presumption' that counsel's strategy and tactics fall within the wide range of reasonable professional assistance.'" Burch v. Corcoran , 273 F.3d 577, 588 (4th Cir. 2001) (quoting Strickland , 466 U.S. at 689). The prejudice component requires a convicted defendant to "show that there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different. A reasonable probability is a probability sufficient to undermine confidence in the outcome." Strickland , 466 U.S. at 694. In analyzing ineffective assistance of counsel claims, it is not necessary to determine whether counsel performed deficiently if the claim is readily dismissed for lack of prejudice. Id . at 697.

In the context of a guilty plea, the Supreme Court modified the second prong of Strickland to require a showing that "there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's errors, [petitioner] would not have pleaded guilty and would have insisted on going to trial." Hill v. Lockhart , 474 U.S. 52, 59 (1985). Scaife's assertion that he would have pled not guilty but for counsel's alleged error is not dispositive of the issue. See United States v. Mora-Gomez , 875 F.Supp. 1208, 1214 (E.D. Va. 1995). Rather, "[t]his is an objective inquiry and [highly] dependent on the likely outcome of a trial had the defendant not pleaded guilty." Meyer v. Branker , 506 F.3d 358, 369 (4th Cir. 2007) (internal citation omitted) (citing Hill , 474 U.S. at 59-60). ...

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