United States District Court, District of Columbia
G. SULLIVAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Darnell Parker (“Mr. Parker”) is serving a
19-year sentence on drug and money laundering charges at the
Federal Correctional Insitute in Allenwood, Pennsylvania.
Pet.’s Mot. Vacate, ECF No. 530. In May 2014, Mr.
Parker filed a motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to
vacate, set aside or correct his sentence. Id. Mr.
Parker claims that he received ineffective assistance of
counsel from his pre-plea attorney, Kira West
(“Attorney West”), and his subsequent attorney,
Marvin Miller (“Attorney Miller”). Pet.’s
Mem. Supp. Mot. Vacate (“Pet.’s Mem.
Supp.”), ECF No. 530 at 15-21. Mr. Parker also argues
that the court erred by failing to consider the 18 U.S.C.
§ 3553(a) factors during Mr. Parker’s sentencing.
Pet.’s First Suppl. Mem., ECF No. 545 at 4-5. For the
reasons discussed below, and upon consideration of Mr.
Parker’s motion, supplements, the government's
opposition, and Mr. Parker’s reply, Petitioner’s
§ 2255 motion is DENIED WITH PREJUDICE.
8, 2012, Mr. Parker was charged in a superseding indictment
with two counts related to an alleged conspiracy to possess
and distribute cocaine and five counts related to money
laundering. Indictment, ECF No. 123. On December 20, 2012, the
government filed a superseding information charging Mr.
Parker with one count of conspiracy to distribute and
possession with intent to distribute five kilograms or more
of cocaine in violation 21 U.S.C. § 846 and one count of
laundering of monetary instruments in violations of 18 U.S.C.
§ 1956(a)(1)(B)(i). Superseding Information, ECF No.
253. On December 21, 2012 Mr. Parker pled guilty to both
counts of the superseding information. Plea offer, ECF No.
258; Plea Hearing Tr., Resp’t Opp’n Mem.
Def.’s Mot. (“Resp’t Opp’n
Mem.”), Ex. F.
Parker was sentenced on May 9, 2013. Id., Ex. J.
Because Mr. Parker was previously convicted on two felony
drug charges (California Case No. GA04608401 and Maryland
Case No. 21K03031669), he is classified as a career offender
under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines (“Sentencing
Guidelines”). Presentence Investigation Report, ECF No.
345 at 16. In his plea agreement, Mr. Parker acknowledged his
status as a career offender and that he would face heighted
penalties under the Sentencing Guidelines. Plea Agreement
Letter, ECF No. 258 at 1-3. Mr. Parker also agreed to the
forfeiture of certain property derived from the proceeds of
the offenses charged in the written plea agreement he signed.
Plea Agreement, ECF No. 258 at 5. Specifically, Mr. Parker
forfeited a collection of shoes, purses, and a fur coat.
Id. Am. Final Order of Forfeiture, ECF No. 490.
March 25, 2013 Mr. Parker filed a motion to reduce his
criminal history score from VI to V. Pet.’s Sent. Mem.,
ECF No. 357. The government did not oppose the motion and on
May 9, 2013, the Court lowered Mr. Parker’s criminal
history score to V, reducing Mr. Parker’s sentencing
range from 262 months to 327 months to 235 to 293 months.
Sent. Tr., ECF No. 552, Ex. H at 14; Presentence
Investigation Report. Mr. Parker was sentenced to 235 months
of imprisonment followed by 60 months of supervised release.
Judgment, ECF No. 412.
Standard of Review
28 U.S.C. § 2255, a prisoner may move to vacate, set
aside, or correct a sentence imposed “in violation of
the Constitution or laws of the United States, ” or any
sentence that “the court was without jurisdiction to
impose, ” or that is “in excess of the maximum
authorized by law, ” or is “otherwise subject to
collateral attack.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255. The
defendant must prove his allegations by a preponderance of
the evidence, however a challenge under § 2255
“requires the defendant to show a ‘good deal more
than would be sufficient on a direct appeal from his
sentence.’” United States v. Lancaster,
No. CIV 05-838 (EGS), 2007 WL 779039, at 1 (D.D.C. Mar. 7,
2007) (citing United States v. Pollard, 959 F.2d
1011, 1120 (D.C. Cir. 1992)). “A § 2255 motion may
be denied when it ‘offers only bald legal conclusions
with no supporting factual allegations.’”
Aljaff v. United States, 987 F.Supp.2d 64, 66
(D.D.C. 2013) (quoting Mitchell v. United States,
841 F.Supp.2d 322, 328 (D.D.C. 2012)).
Parker makes three arguments in support of his § 2255
Motion. First, Mr. Parker argues that Attorney West provided
ineffective assistance of counsel because she failed to
investigate how various shoes, purses, and a fur coat
forfeited by Mr. Parker were procured. Pet.’s Mem.
Supp. at 18. Next Mr. Parker alleges that his subsequent
counsel, Attorney Miller, was ineffective for failing to
challenge his prior Maryland conviction, the purported
miscalculation of his criminal history points, and his status
as a career offender. Id. at 19. Finally, Mr. Parker
argues that the Court erred by not considering the 18 U.S.C.
§ 3553(a) factors during his sentencing. Pet.’s
First Suppl. Mem. at 4-5. Each of Mr. Parker’s
arguments shall be addressed in turn.
Attorney West’s representation of Mr. Parker was not
ineffective because it was not objectively unreasonable
Parker alleges Attorney West rendered ineffective assistance
causing him to suffer undue prejudice. Pet.’s Mem.
Supp. at 18. Specifically, Mr. Parker alleges that
“[h]ad attorney West only conducted the minimal
investigation, she could of proven that Defendant’s
collection of shoes, his wife’s purses, and personal
belongings were not purchased from any proceeds derived from
his charge of conviction.” Id. The government
argues that Mr. Parker’s claims against Attorney West
are both vague and conclusory. Resp’t Opp’n Mem.
At 7-8. Regardless, the government notes that Mr. Parker
repeatedly consented to the forfeiture of his belongings
while he was represented by Attorney West and Attorney
Miller. Id. at 8-10.
succeed on an ineffective assistance of counsel claim,
Defendant must show both that his counsel’s performance
was deficient, falling below an objective standard of
reasonableness, and that counsel’s deficient
performance prejudiced Defendant’s defense.”
Mitchell v. United States, 841 F.Supp.2d at 326
(citing Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668
(1984)). If a Defendant cannot meet either prong, a court
need not address the other. Id. As explained by the
In any ineffectiveness case, a particular decision not to
investigate must be directly assessed for reasonableness in
all the circumstances, applying a heavy measure of deference
to counsel’s judgments. The reasonableness of
counsel’s actions may be determined or substantially
influenced by the defendant’s own statements or
actions. Counsel’s actions are usually based, quite
properly, on informed strategic choices made by the defendant
and on information supplied by the defendant . . . and when a
defendant has given counsel reason to believe that pursuing