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United States v. Blanchard

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

October 30, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
EDDIE BLANCHARD, Petitioner.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION (DENYING 28 U.S.C. § 2255 MOTION)

          HENRY E. HUDSON SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Eddie Blanchard, 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. 156). Blanchard contends that he is entitled relief upon the following:[1]

Claim One "Trial counsel was ineffective by failing to object during sentencing & familiarize himself with substantive change in law establishing petitioner's innocence." (Id. at 4.)
Claim Two "Appellant counsel was ineffective for his failure to file a complete record on appeal to raise Petitioner's preserved sentencing objections by trial counsel." (Id. at 5.)
Claim Three "Appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to raise Petitioner's sentencing being improperly enhanced based on the number of victims contrary to law." (Id. at 6.)
Claim Four "Appellate counsel was constitutionally ineffective in failing to challenge the calculation of the District Court['s] imposition of such [a] dramatic[] sentence." (Id. at 8.)
Claim Five "Appellate counsel's failure to raise preserved sentencing objections to obstruction of justice enhancement constituted ineffective assistance of counsel." (Id. at 27.)

         For the reasons set forth below, Blanchard's claims will be dismissed.[2]

         Blanchard also has requested a free copy of his sentencing transcript. Copies of documents are provided to indigent litigants at government expense only upon a showing of particularized need. Blanchard fails to make any showing of particularized need. Blanchard is not entitled to free copies "merely to comb the record in the hope of discovering some flaw." United States v. Glass, 317 F.2d 200, 202 (4th Cir. 1963). Accordingly, Blanchard's Motion for Production of Sentencing Transcript (ECF No. 158) will be denied.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         A jury convicted Blanchard of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1349, wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1343, 2, mail fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1341, 2, aggravated identity theft, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1028A(a)(1), 2, conspiracy to obstruct official proceedings, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1512(k), and obstruction of official proceedings, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c)(2), 2. United States v. Blanchard, 652 Fed.Appx. 194, 195 (4th Cir. 2016). The Court sentenced Blanchard to an aggregate term of 204 months of imprisonment. Id.

         Blanchard appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Id. In his appeal, "Blanchard's counsel... filed [an Anders1[3]brief certifying there [were] no meritorious grounds for appeal but questioning whether the district court erred in admitting codefendant Junior Jean Merilia's out-of-court statements, describing the conspiracy and implicating Blanchard in the conspiracy, through the testimony of Merilia's former girlfriend." Id. The Fourth Circuit concluded "that the district court did not abuse its discretion in admitting Merilia's statements." Id.

         II. INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL

         To demonstrate ineffective assistance of counsel, a convicted defendant must first show 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, a 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, ...


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