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Cochran v. United States

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

October 16, 2019

ERIC JONELLE COCHRAN, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          ORDER

          TIMOTHY J. CORRIGAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This case is before the Court on Petitioner Eric Jonelle Cochran's Motion Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence (Civ. Doc. 1, § 2255 Motion) and Supporting Memorandum (Civ. Doc. 2, Memorandum).[1] The United States has responded in opposition, arguing that the § 2255 Motion is both untimely and meritless. (Civ. Doc. 6, Response). Petitioner did not file a reply. Accordingly, the case is ripe for a decision.

         Under Rule 8(a) of the Rules Governing Section 2255 Proceedings, the Court has determined that an evidentiary hearing is not necessary to decide the motion. See Rosin v. United States, 786 F.3d 873, 877 (11th Cir. 2015) (an evidentiary hearing on a § 2255 motion is not required when the petitioner asserts allegations that are affirmatively contradicted by the record or patently frivolous, or if in assuming that the facts he alleges are true, he still would not be entitled to any relief). For the reasons below, Petitioner's § 2255 Motion is due to be dismissed as untimely.

         I. Background

         On February 6, 2008, a grand jury charged Petitioner with one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g) and 924(e). (Crim. Doc. 1, Indictment). Petitioner pled not guilty and proceeded to trial. (See Crim. Doc. 49, Trial Tr. Vol. I; Crim. Doc. 50, Trial Tr. Vol. II). Following a two-day jury trial, the jury returned a guilty verdict. (Crim. Doc. 41, Jury Verdict).

         At sentencing, the Court determined that Petitioner qualified to be sentenced under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) based on prior convictions for (1) burglary, (2) the sale, manufacture, delivery, or possession with intent to sell, manufacture, or deliver cocaine within 1, 000 feet of a convenience business, and (3) the sale or delivery of cocaine. (Crim. Doc. 48, Sentencing Tr. at 3-10). Petitioner did not object to the ACCA enhancement or the validity of the prior convictions. (Id. at 3, 8, 9).[2] After considering the factors under 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a), the Court sentenced Petitioner to the ACCA's mandatory minimum term of 180 months in prison. (Id. at 26; Crim. Doc. 45, Judgment).

         Petitioner appealed his conviction, arguing that the Court erred in denying a motion for judgment of acquittal because there was insufficient evidence to support a guilty verdict. United States v. Cochran, 329 Fed.Appx. 244, 245 (11th Cir. 2009). Specifically, Petitioner

argue[d] that the jury was “confronted with equally persuasive theories of guilt and innocence” and that a rational trier of fact could not have found guilt beyond a reasonable doubt because “the government's case rested on the testimony of a singular officer, ” “another person was present at the scene where the gun was recovered, ” and Cochran's fingerprints were not on the gun or the bullets found by the arresting officer.

Id. The Eleventh Circuit rejected each of these arguments, concluding that there was sufficient evidence for the jury to find Petitioner guilty. Id. at 245-46. Thus, the court affirmed Petitioner's conviction and sentence.

         Petitioner then sought certiorari review from the Supreme Court. However, the Supreme Court denied certiorari review on October 13, 2009. Cochran v. United States, 558 U.S. 959, 130 S.Ct. 426, 175 L.Ed.2d 292 (2009). Petitioner's conviction certiorari….”). Petitioner did not file the instant § 2255 Motion until more than seven years later.[3]

         II. Petitioner's § 2255 Motion

         Petitioner raises three grounds for relief in his § 2255 Motion, each alleging the ineffective assistance of counsel. In Ground One, Petitioner claims that counsel gave ineffective assistance by failing to move to suppress evidence and to dismiss the indictment based on a defective probable cause affidavit. (Civ. Doc. 1 at 4; Civ. Doc. 2 at 5-8). Specifically, Petitioner claims that the police officer who arrested him committed a Franks violation[4] by omitting facts from the arrest affidavit about whether his informants - a fellow officer who performed lookout duties and elderly residents of an assisted living facility who complained about drug activity - provided sufficiently reliable information to support the arrest. Petitioner also disputes the arresting officer's statement in the arrest affidavit that he recovered drugs and a firearm from Petitioner. In Ground Two, Petitioner claims that counsel gave ineffective assistance by failing to object to the ACCA enhancement on the ground that his prior drug convictions did not meet the ACCA's definition of a serious drug offense. (Civ. Doc. 1 at 5; Civ. Doc. 2 at 9-10).[5] In Ground Three, Petitioner claims that counsel gave ineffective assistance at sentencing by failing to contest whether his prior convictions counted separately under U.S.S.G. §§ 4A1.2 and 4B1.2 and the ACCA. (Civ. Doc. 1 at 6-7; Civ. Doc. 2 at 10-11).[6] Regarding the statute of limitations, Petitioner contends that the actual innocence exception and § 2255(e)'s saving clause relieve him from the time bar. (Civ. Doc. 1 at 11; Civ. Doc. 2 at 2-4).

         III. Discussion

         Under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), there is a one-year statute of limitations for a federal prisoner to file a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct sentence. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f). ...


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