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United States v. Blake

United States District Court, D. Nebraska

November 8, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
QUANTAL BLAKE, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Laurie Smith Camp United States District Judge

         This matter is before the Court on the Defendant's “Motion Pursuant to Rule 59(E) To Alter, Amend, Reconsider, Or Revise [t]he District[ ] Court Judgment, ” ECF No. 124. Defendant Quantal Blake asserts that his time to prepare his Motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody (§ 2255 Motion), ECF No. 120, was unfairly limited by (1) his counsel's eight-month delay in providing him notification of the denial of his petition for writ of certiorari and (2) institutional lock-downs from September 11 through 18, 2018, and September 21 through October 2, 2018, limiting his access to legal resources.

         In his timely § 2255 Motion, ECF No. 120, the Defendant stated that “SUPPLEMENT AND MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT ARE FORTHCOMING.” ECF No. 120, Page ID 981. He now asks the Court to accept supplementary materials and arguments filed on October 22, 2018, ECF No. 124, and reconsider its Memorandum and Order, ECF No. 122, and Judgment, ECF No. 123, filed on October 9, 2018.

         The Court will grant the Defendant's pending Motion, insofar as the Court will accept the Defendant's supplementary materials and arguments presented in ECF No. 124 and will Reconsider the earlier Memorandum and Order and Judgment, and conduct a second initial review.

         Rule 4(b) of the Rules Governing Section 2255 Proceedings for the United States District Courts describes the initial review process:

The judge who receives the motion must promptly examine it. If it plainly appears from the motion, any attached exhibits, and the record of prior proceedings that the moving party is not entitled to relief, the judge must dismiss the motion and direct the clerk to notify the moving party. If the motion is not dismissed, the judge must order the United States attorney to file an answer, motion, or other response within a fixed time, or to take other action the judge may order.

         PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On May 28, 2015, following a jury trial, the Defendant Quantal Blake was found guilty of three counts of bank robbery. He was sentenced on February 9, 2016, to terms of 210 months, 210 months, and life imprisonment, to run concurrently, and five years of supervised release on each count, also to run concurrently. ECF No. 88. Restitution in the amount of $31, 375.00 and a $300 special assessment were also imposed. The Defendant appealed, and his conviction and sentence were affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit on June 5, 2017. He filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the United States Supreme Court, and that petition was denied on October 2, 2017.

         The Court considers the materials filed at ECF Nos. 120 and 124 to be consolidated as the Defendant's first Motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, and timely filed. In ECF No. 120, the Defendant asserted that this Court “found that defendant failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that a firearm was not involve[d] in the first WestRoads bank robbery” and that such determination should have been made by a jury, based on proof beyond a reasonable doubt. § 2255 Motion, ECF No. 120, Page ID 972. He also asserted that his counsel was ineffective for failing to raise these issues during trial, sentencing, and on appeal. In ECF No. 124, the Defendant now asserts he should not have been subjected to a mandatory life sentence under 18 U.S.C. § 3559 because his prior robbery offenses were not crimes of violence. He also asserts that his counsel was ineffective for failing to seek suppression of evidence from Defendant's GPS tracking device and evidence of his parole status, and for failing to object to admission of a variety of other evidence.

         DISCUSSION

         To establish ineffective assistance of counsel, Defendant must satisfy both prongs of the test articulated by the United States Supreme Court in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984). The performance prong requires a showing that counsel performed outside the wide range of reasonable professional assistance and made errors so serious that counsel failed to function as the kind of counsel guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment. Id. at 687-89. The prejudice prong requires a movant to demonstrate that seriously deficient performance of counsel prejudiced the defense. Id. at 687. “To establish prejudice, the defendant must demonstrate a reasonable probability that the result of the proceeding would have been different, but for counsel's deficiency.” United States v. Luke, 686 F.3d 600, 604 (8th Cir. 2012).

         Use of Firearm in Westroads Bank Robbery

          The record clearly shows that Defendant's counsel raised on appeal the precise issues the Defendant presented in his § 2255 Motion, ECF No. 120, and the Court of Appeals addressed each argument thoroughly, concluding that this Court committed no error in its application of 18 U.S.C. § 3559(c)(3)(A). See United States v. Blake, 858 F.3d 1134, 1136-37 (8th Cir. 2017). Accordingly, the Defendant has not demonstrated that his counsel “performed outside the wide range of reasonable professional assistance and made errors so serious that counsel failed to function as the kind of counsel guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment.” Strickland, 466 U.S. at 687-89. Nor has he demonstrated that “seriously deficient performance of counsel prejudiced the defense.” Id. at 687.

         Mandatory Life Sentence under ...


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