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Walker v. United States

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division

December 29, 2017

RASHARD WALKER, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          ROY B. DALTON JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This cause comes before the Court on Rashard Walker's (“Petitioner's” or “Walker's”) motion to vacate, set aside, or correct an illegal sentence (Doc. 1, filed October 24, 2016). Respondent filed a response in opposition to the motion (Doc. 6), and Walker has filed a reply (Doc. 8). The motion is ripe for review. Upon review of the pleadings, the Court concludes that Walker's amended § 2255 motion must be denied.

         A. Background and Procedural History

         On April 29, 2015, a federal grand jury in the Middle District of Florida indicted Walker on one count of being a convicted felon in possession of a semi-automatic assault rifle, a drum magazine, and 58 rounds of ammunition, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2).[1]

         Walker signed a plea agreement on June 15, 2015. (Cr. Doc. 39). The factual basis set forth in Walker's plea agreement listed the facts giving rise to his arrest as follows:

On or about February 5, 2015, at approximately 5:45 p.m., the Orlando Police Department SWAT team executed a state search warrant at WALKER's residence at the time, 734 Kankakee Lane, Orlando, Florida. When the SWAT team entered the residence, WALKER was awakened from a nap in his bedroom, exited his bedroom, and entered the hallway of the residence. IN WALKER's open bedroom closet, the SWAT team found, in plain view, the Izhmash semiautomatic rifle, serial number H03600854, which was manufactured in Russia. The SWAT team also found in WALKER's bedroom closet a large capacity loaded drum magazine, a banana clip type loaded magazine, and 58 rounds of 7.62X39 mm caliber ammunition.

(Cr. Doc. 39 at 17-18). Walker initialed the page setting forth the factual basis for his plea. (Id.). On June 24, 2015, a change of plea hearing was held in front of the undersigned. (Cr. Doc. 118). The Court determined that there was a factual basis for the plea, the plea was accepted, and Walker was adjudicated guilty. (Id. at 21-22, 27).

         On October 26, 2015, the Court sentenced Walker to ninety months in prison, a variance below the low end of the applicable guidelines range. (Doc. 6-1 at 19). Walker did not file a direct appeal of his conviction or sentence. Walker timely filed the instant 28 U.S.C. § 2255 motion on October 24, 2016 (Doc. 1).

         II. Legal standards

         A. Standard of Review under 28 U.S.C. § 2255

         Title 28 U.S.C. § 2255 provides federal prisoners with an avenue for relief under limited circumstances:

A prisoner in custody under sentence of a court established by Act of Congress claiming the right to be released upon the ground that the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, or that the court was without jurisdiction to impose such sentence, or that the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law, or is otherwise subject to attack, may move the court which imposed the sentence to vacate, set aside or correct the sentence.

28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). If a court finds a claim under § 2255 to be valid, the court “shall vacate and set the judgment aside and shall discharge the prisoner or resentence him or grant a new trial or correct the sentence as may appear appropriate.” Id. at § 2255(b). To obtain this relief on collateral review, a petitioner must clear a significantly higher hurdle than exists on direct appeal. See United States v. Frady, 456 U.S. 152, 166 (1982) (rejecting the plain error standard as not sufficiently deferential to a final judgment).

         B. Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

         To prevail on a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, Walker must show that: (1) “counsel's representation fell below an objective standard of reasonableness”; and (2) “there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different.” Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 688, 694 (1984). These two elements are commonly referred to as Strickland's performance and prejudice prongs. Reece v. United States, 119 F.3d 1462, 1464 n.4 (11th Cir. 1997). If a petitioner fails to establish ...


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