United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
D. MERRYDAY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
moves under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (Doc. 1) to vacate and
challenges the validity of her conviction for conspiracy to
distribute and for possession with the intent to distribute
five hundred grams or more of methamphetamine, for which
offenses she is imprisoned for eighty-seven months.
Lane's motion lacks merit because in the plea agreement
Lane waived the right to raise each ground she asserts in the
motion to vacate.
Rules Governing Section 2255 Cases, requires a preliminary
review of the motion to vacate. Section 2255 requires denial
of the motion without a response if the “motion and the
files and records of the case conclusively show that the
prisoner is entitled to no relief . . . .” Accord
Wright v. United States, 624 F.2d 557, 558 (5th Cir.
1980) (finding the summary dismissal of a
Section 2255 motion was proper “[b]ecause in this case
the record, uncontradicted by [defendant], shows that he is
not entitled to relief”); Hart v. United
States, 565 F.2d 360, 361 (5th Cir. 1978) (“Rule
4(b) [Rules Governing § 2255 Proceedings], allows the
district court to summarily dismiss the motion and notify the
movant if ‘it plainly appears from the face of the
motion and any annexed exhibits and the prior proceedings in
the case that the movant is not entitled to relief . . .
.'”). See United States v. Deal, 678 F.2d
1062, 1065 (11th Cir. 1982) (citing Wright and
From an unknown date, but at least late in 2013, through and
on or about November 13, 2014, the defendants Linda Tallent,
Pamela Lane, Joseph Lane, and others known and unknown,
conspired and agreed to distribute and possess with intent to
distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine in and around
Hillsborough County, in the Middle District of Florida and
More specifically, during the above time frame, Pamela and
Joseph LANE, commercial truck drivers, had been transporting
multiple pound quantities of methamphetamine on a monthly
basis from Phoenix, AZ, to the Middle District of Florida.
During that time, they had sold multiple ounce quantities of
methamphetamine to Linda Tallent on numerous occasions. Linda
Tallent had also received pound quantities from another
source of supply (“SOS”). Tallent sold a large
amount of that methamphetamine to an individual who later
became a confidential informant (CI) with the DEA. The CI
often went with Tallent to the SOS's residence to get the
On November 13, 2014, the CI agreed to cooperate with the DEA
and made arrangements to purchase two ounces of
methamphetamine from Tallent for $2600. The CI met with
Tallent and gave her the $2600. Tallent told CI that she
needed to go pick up the drugs from one of her SOS's in
Gibsonton, Florida. Agents followed Tallent to the residence
of Pamela and Joseph Lane at 8010 Nundy Avenue, Gibsonton,
Florida, where she was observed going into the residence,
meeting with the Lanes, and leaving. A traffic stop was
conducted on her vehicle and she admitted there were two
ounces of methamphetamine in her car. The drugs were located
in the car and $600 of the pre-recorded funds were in her
pocket. After waiving her Miranda rights, Tallent
admitted that she had just purchased the drugs from her
girlfriend on Nundy Ave, and she had seen additional money in
that house before she left.
A search warrant was executed at the Lane's residence at
8010 Nundy Avenue, Gibsonton, Florida. Agents found
approximately 114 grams of methamphetamine in the master
bedroom; multiple small baggies commonly used to distribute
methamphetamine; one loaded Charter Arms .357 Revolver, and 5
rounds of ammunition located in the dresser drawer next to
the bed in the master bedroom; a Remington .870 express
magnum pump shotgun and 5 rounds of ammunition and a Browning
Bar .243 Rifle with 30 rounds of ammunition located in the
closet of the master bedroom; one Savage Arms .12 gauge
single shotgun model 94 (with a cut off butt stock) with
several rounds of ammunition in second bedroom; and two safes
containing $74, 610.00 in United States Currency. Contained
among the money was $1700.00 in pre-recorded
motion to vacate asserts five grounds of ineffective
assistance of counsel. (Doc. 1) Lane contends that counsel
rendered ineffective assistance by challenging neither the
search warrant nor the United States' evidence,
ostensibly because counsel failed to conduct an independent
investigation. Lane alleges that counsel was ineffective at
sentencing by advising Lane that she would get a light
sentence (Ground Three), by allowing the United States to
confiscate her life savings (Ground Four), and by failing to
present character witnesses at sentencing (paragraph number
four in the supporting memorandum). In a supplement (Doc. 4)
Lane alleges that counsel was ineffective for not seeking a
minor role reduction.
WAIVED BY GUILTY PLEA
contends that counsel rendered ineffective assistance by
challenging neither the search warrant nor the United
States' evidence, ostensibly because counsel failed to
conduct an independent investigation (Grounds One and Two).
By pleading guilty Lane waived her right to challenge both
the search warrant and the United States' evidence.
Tollett v. Henderson, 411 U.S. 258, 267 (1973),
holds that a guilty plea waives a non-jurisdictional defect:
[A] guilty plea represents a break in the chain of events
which has preceded it in the criminal process. When a
criminal defendant has solemnly admitted in open court that
he is in fact guilty of the offense with which he is charged,
he may not thereafter raise independent claims relating to
the deprivation of constitutional rights that occurred prior
to the entry of the guilty plea.
waiver of rights precludes most challenges to the conviction.
“[W]hen the judgment of conviction upon a guilty plea
has become final and the offender seeks to re-open the
proceeding, the inquiry is ordinarily confined to whether the
underlying plea was both counseled and voluntary.”
United States v. Broce, 488 U.S. 563, 569 (1989).
See also United States v. Patti, 337 F.3d 1217, 1320
(11th Cir. 2003) (“Generally, a voluntary,
unconditional guilty plea waives all non-jurisdictional
defects in the proceedings.”) and Wilson v. United
States, 962 F.2d 996, 997 (11th Cir. 1992) (“A
defendant who enters a plea of guilty waives all
non-jurisdictional challenges to the constitutionality of the
conviction, and only an attack on the voluntary and knowing
nature of the plea can be sustained.”). A guilty plea
waives a claim based on a pre-plea event, including a claim
of ineffective assistance of counsel. Wilson, 962
F.2d at 997. See also McMann v. Richardson, 397 U.S.
759, 766 (1970) (holding that a plea waives the right to
trial and, therefore, waives the “right to contest the
admissibility of any evidence the State might have offered
against the defendant”).
allegation that counsel should have both challenged the
search warrant (Ground One) and conducted an independent
investigation (Ground Two) are refuted by her testimony when
she pleaded guilty. In response to the magistrate judge's
questions, Lane testified that “there [was not]
anything [defense counsel] should have done that he did not
do in this case” and that she was “satisfied with
the way [defense counsel] represented [her] in this
case.” (Doc. 143 at 23) Lane's earlier testimony
bars the present claims. “[T]he representations of the
defendant . . . [at the plea proceeding] as well as any
findings made by the judge accepting the plea, constitute a
formidable barrier in any subsequent collateral proceedings.
Solemn declarations in open court carry a strong presumption
of verity.” Blackledge v. Allison, 431 U.S.
63, 73S74 (1977). Accord Marquez v. United States,
2017 WL 1279044 (11th Cir. April 6, 2017) (quoting
Blackledge); Connolly v. United States, 568
Fed. App'x 770, 771 (11th Cir. 2014) (quoting
Blackledge). See also United States v.
Lagrone, 727 F.2d 1037, 2038 (11th Cir. 1984)
(“When a defendant pleads guilty relying upon his
counsel's best professional judgment, he cannot later
argue that his plea was due to coercion by counsel.”).
Wilson explains, the entry of a guilty plea waives a
claim that occurred before entry of the plea, including both
a substantive claim and a purported failing of counsel but
neither a jurisdictional challenge nor a voluntariness
challenge to the plea. Lane asserts neither a jurisdictional
challenge nor a voluntariness challenge. As a consequence, by
pleading guilty Lane waived presenting the claims asserted in
Grounds One and Two.
PRECLUDED BY THE APPEAL WAIVER
conviction is based on a negotiated plea. The plea agreement
specifically states that Lane “expressly waives the
right to appeal defendant's sentence on any ground,
including the ground that the Court erred in determining the
applicable guidelines range pursuant to the United States
Sentencing Guidelines, ” except for three inapplicable
exceptions. Plea Agreement ¶7 at 13 (Doc. 67).
the entry of the guilty plea the magistrate judge ensured
that Lane understood that she could not withdraw her plea
even if the sentence imposed was greater than expected (Doc.
143 at 30):
THE COURT: In paragraph seven, the Government agrees to
recommend that you be sentenced within the guideline range as
determined by the Court under the guidelines as adjusted by
any departure the Government has agreed to recommend, but it
goes on to say that for some reason the Court does not do
that, you would not have a right to withdraw your plea of
guilty. Mr. Lane, do you understand that?
Mr. Lane: Yes, sir.
THE COURT: And Ms. Lane, do you?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes, Sir.
THE COURT: I will tell you that in some circumstances the
court can go above the sentencing guidelines and in other
circumstances can go below the sentencing guidelines. Do you
THE DEFENDANT: Yes, sir.
stated that she understood that this preclusion against
withdrawing the guilty plea applies even if the district
judge rejects the United States' recommendation for a
downward adjustment based on Lane's acceptance of
responsibility. (Doc. 143 at 31-32) The magistrate judge also
ensured that Lane understood the significance of the appeal
waiver (Doc. 143 at 34-35):
THE COURT: I also want to emphasize paragraph seven. I will
tell you that even though you are pleading guilty, you have a
right to appeal your sentence. But under paragraph seven, you
limit the extent to which you can appeal your sentence. Under
paragraph seven, you can only appeal if the sentence exceeds
the guideline range as determined by the Court under the
guidelines, or if the sentence exceeds the statutory maximum
penalty, or if the sentence violates the Eighth Amendment to
the Constitution which prohibits excessive fines and cruel
and unusual punishment. Those are the only three things about
your sentence ...