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United States v. Sheffield

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

December 23, 2014


For Dante Sheffield, Defendant: Elita C. Amato, LEAD ATTORNEY, LAW OFFICES OF ELITA C. AMATO, ESQ., Arlington, VA USA.

For USA: Barry Wiegand, III, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE Asset Forfeiture/Money Laundering Section, Washington, DC USA; John V. Geise, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, OFFICE OF THE U.S. ATTORNEY, Washington, DC USA.

Page 149


BERYL A. HOWELL, United States District Judge.

The defendant, Dante Sheffield, was convicted at trial of unlawful possession with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of PCP in 2011. Verdict Form at 1, ECF No. 68. The defendant now challenges his conviction on Sixth Amendment grounds, contending that his trial counsel was ineffective. See Def.'s Pro Se Supplemental Pleadings (" February 2014 Filing" ) at 2, ECF No. 123; Def.'s Amend. Pro Se Supplemental Pleadings Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 33 Alleging Ineffective [sic] of Counsel (" April 2014 Filing" ) at 1, ECF No 124. For the reasons set forth below, the defendant's request for relief is denied.


The defendant was arrested, along with his co-defendant, Brande Dudley, on June 8, 2011, following a traffic stop. See United States v. Sheffield, 799 F.Supp.2d 22, 25-26 (D.D.C. 2011).[1] During the traffic stop, a search of the car in which the defendant was a passenger revealed a lemon juice bottle containing approximately eight ounces of PCP. See id. at 26. The defendant stated, after he had been handcuffed, that " everything [in the car] is his, everything was his." Id. at 27 (alteration in original).

The defendant and his co-defendant, were subsequently indicted on one count of possession of PCP with intent to distribute more than 100 grams of PCP. See Indictment at 1, ECF No. 9. After entering a plea of not guilty, the defendant, through his appointed counsel, litigated motions to revoke the defendant's detention pending trial, ECF No. 13; four pre-trial motions to suppress statements and physical evidence, ECF Nos. 17, 18, 37, and 55; and two motions filed by the government to present evidence under Federal Rules of Evidence 404(b) and 609, ECF Nos. 19 and 49. Additionally, the defendant filed a " Pro Se Motion to Dismiss Case" independently

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of his counsel, ECF No. 43, which was denied as being " without merit," see Order at 1, ECF No. 53.

After a three-day trial, a jury convicted the defendant and acquitted his co-defendant. Verdict Form at 1-2. The defendant's counsel subsequently moved the Court to reconsider its decision allowing the admission of drug evidence seized from the car in which the defendant was a passenger, and moved the Court to require the government to submit the seized drug evidence to the Drug Enforcement Agency for additional testing. See Def.'s Mot. Reconsider Def.'s Mot. In Limine Exclude Drug Evidence at 1, ECF No. 72; Def.'s Mot. Test Drugs Not Submitted to DEA at 1, ECF No. 74. These post-trial motions were denied. Minute Order, December 20, 2011; United States v. Sheffield, 842 F.Supp.2d 227, 228 (D.D.C. 2012).

On February 28, 2012, the defendant was sentenced to 230 months imprisonment, ninety-six months supervised release, and a $100.00 special assessment. Judgment, ECF No. 89. The defendant promptly noticed his appeal. Notice of Appeal, ECF No. 85. Nearly seven months later, the defendant, proceeding pro se, filed a " Motion to Reopen Preliminary Detention Hearing on 6/14/11 before the Hon. Magistrate Judge Alan Kay Based Upon Fraud on the Court (the " September 2012 Motion" )," ECF No. 99.

In the September 2012 Motion, the defendant alleged that one of the officers who arrested him told the defendant's co-defendant that the officer " found marijuana butts in the ashtray" of the car in which the defendants were traveling. September 2012 Mot. at 1-2. The defendant alleged that this statement was false and " affected the integrity of the court proceeding." Id. The Court denied this motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 62.1, since an appeal was already pending when the motion was filed. Minute Order, Sept. 5, 2012.

In January 2013, the D.C. Circuit held the defendant's appeal in abeyance pending " anticipated motion for a new trial" to be filed before this Court. Order at 1, ECF No. 100.[2] Instead of filing such a motion, the defendant filed a Motion for Appointment of Counsel, ECF No. 101, and a " Motion for Clarification Clarifying the Defendant's Motion to Reopen the Preliminary Detention Hearing On June 14, 2011, Before Alan Kay Based Upon Fraud Upon The Court's Filed Docket September 4, 2012," ECF No. 102. Those motions were subsequently denied. Order at 2, ECF No. 103. Construing the defendant's Motion for Clarification as a " renewal of his prior motion to reopen" his detention hearing, the Court determined that " [a]lthough the statements made regarding marijuana butts were later admitted to be incorrect, the Magistrate Judge's decision to detain the defendant pending trial was not based at ...

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