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United States v. Stallworth

United States District Court, Western District of Virginia, Abingdon Division

May 6, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
DOUGLAS LEE STALLWORTH, Defendant.

Zachary T. Lee, Assistant United States Attorney, Abingdon, Virginia, for United States;

Douglas Lee Stallworth, Pro Se Defendant.

OPINION

James P. Jones United States District Judge

The defendant, Douglas Lee Stallworth, proceeding pro se, filed a Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. This matter is before me upon the United States’ Motion to Dismiss. Stallworth responded to the motion, making the matter ripe for disposition. After reviewing the record, I find that Stallworth’s § 2255 claims are without merit and must be dismissed.

I.

In May 2008, Stallworth was indicted for conspiring to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute fifty grams or more of cocaine base, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 846, and the court subsequently appointed counsel. A jury convicted Stallworth of the conspiracy charge, I sentenced Stallworth to the statutorily mandated minimum sentence of life imprisonment, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed. United States v. Stallworth, 466 F. App’x 218, 220 (4th Cir.) (unpublished), cert. denied, 192 S.Ct. 2696 (2012).

Stallworth presents numerous claims in his § 2255 motion, many of which were presented on appeal or could have been presented on appeal but were not. For the following reasons, none of Stallworth’s claims warrant relief, and consequently, I will grant the United States’ Motion to Dismiss.

II.

Stallworth argues in his § 2255 motion and argued during his appeal that, inter alia, the evidence was insufficient to establish his participation in the conspiracy or involvement in the distribution of at least fifty grams of crack cocaine and that his life sentence violates the Eighth Amendment’s cruel and unusual punishment clause. The court of appeals already rejected these arguments during direct review. Because these claims were already decided on direct appeal, they may not be relitigated in a § 2255 motion. Boeckenhaupt v. United States, 537 F.2d 1182, 1183 (4th Cir. 1976). Accordingly, these claims will be dismissed.

III.

Stallworth also presents the following three disparate claims. First, the court lacked personal and subject matter jurisdiction because Virginia, Tennessee, and the United States violated the Extradition Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3182; the Interstate Agreement on Detainers Act, 18 U.S.C. app. 2; and various articles and amendments of the United States Constitution. Second, his conviction constitutes double jeopardy, and third, the United States obtained the indictment and conviction by defrauding the grand and petit juries. None of these claims were presented to the court of appeals.

Claims that could have been, but were not, raised on direct appeal are procedurally barred from review under § 2255 unless a defendant demonstrates actual innocence or both cause for the default and actual prejudice. See Bousley v. United States, 523 U.S. 614, 622 (1998) (citing United States v. Frady, 456 U.S. 152, 167-68 (1982)). Stallworth fails to establish actual innocence or cause and prejudice. See, e.g., Schlup v. Delo, 513 U.S. 298, 329 (1995); see also Weeks v. Bowersox, 119 F.3d 1342, 1352-53 (8th Cir. 1997) (en banc) (“[A] bare, conclusory assertion that [a petitioner] is actually innocent is not sufficient to invoke the [Schlup] exception.”). Accordingly, these claims will be dismissed as procedurally defaulted.

IV.

Stallworth presents numerous claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. A petitioner claiming ineffective assistance of counsel must satisfy the two-pronged test set forth in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984). The first prong of Strickland requires a petitioner to show “that counsel made errors so serious that counsel was not functioning as the ‘counsel’ guaranteed the defendant by the Sixth Amendment[, ]” meaning that counsel’s representation fell below an objective standard of reasonableness.[1]Strickland, 466 U.S. at 687-88. The second prong of Strickland requires a petitioner to show that counsel’s deficient performance prejudiced him by demonstrating a “reasonable probability that, but for counsel’s ...


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