United States District Court, District of Columbia
B. Walton United States District Judge
plaintiff, Gary Emerson West, brought this action pro
se against United States District Judge Ellen Segal
Huvelle for actions she took while presiding over his
criminal proceedings in this judicial district. See
Complaint (“Compl.”) at 1-2, ECF No. 1;
United States of America v. West, No.
1:01-cr-00168-ESH-1 (D.D.C.) (“West I”
or “Crim. No. 01-168”). The plaintiff has also
sued two Assistant United States Attorneys
(“AUSA”), Ronald L. Walutes, Jr., and Laura
Ingersoll, who represented the government during his
prosecution, and one of his former criminal defense
attorneys, Gene Johnson. See Compl. at 1 (listing
before the Court is the Motion to Dismiss by Federal
Defendants Huvelle, Walutes and Ingersoll (“Defs.'
Mot.”), ECF No. 10. On June 3, 2019, when the
plaintiff's opposition to the foregoing motion was
required to be filed, the plaintiff submitted a document
captioned: “Memorandum of Points and Authorities in
Support of Motion to Proceed with the Jury Trial as
Schedules, ” ECF No. 13, which the Court construes as
the plaintiff's opposition (“Pl.'s
Opp'n”) to the motion to dismiss.
careful consideration of the parties' submissions, and
for the reasons that follow, the Court will (1) grant the
federal defendants' motion to dismiss, (2) decline
supplemental jurisdiction over any local law claim against
Attorney Johnson, and (3) dismiss this case.
The Criminal Proceedings
West I, the plaintiff pleaded guilty on January 9,
2002, to four counts of Armed Bank Robbery, 21 U.S.C. §
2113(a)(d) (2000); one count of Use of a Firearm During and
in Relation to a Crime of Violence, 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)
(2000); and one count of False Statements, 18 U.S.C. §
1001 (a)(2), and his sentencing was scheduled for April 8,
2002. See Crim. No. 01-168, ECF No. 160 (Judgment in
a Criminal Case filed July 15, 2002
(“Judgment”)). Shortly thereafter, the plaintiff
sought to withdraw his guilty plea in a document that Judge
Huvelle allowed to be filed on January 17, 2002, as a motion
to withdraw his plea of guilty. See id., ECF Nos.
112, 116; Compl. ¶ 1. According to the federal
defendants, the plaintiff “asserted, ” as grounds
to withdraw his guilty plea, among other things, that
“he had been deceived by . . . Johnson, who
‘sold' him on the idea of pleading [guilty] and
then working out a deal with the prosecutor that would reduce
his sentence to the two-to-five-year range.” Memorandum
of Points and Authorities in Support of Motion to Dismiss by
Defendants Huvelle, Walutes and Ingersoll (“Defs.'
Mem.”) at 2, ECF No. 10-1. On January 23, 2002, Johnson
filed a motion to withdraw as counsel for the plaintiff,
Crim. No. 01-168, ECF No. 113, which was granted on January
24, 2002, ECF No. 114. In granting Johnson's motion,
Judge Huvelle “assumed that Mr. West [would] retain
[another] counsel to represent him in this matter since he
previously had private representation.” Id.
government filed its opposition to the plaintiff's motion
to withdraw the guilty plea on February 22, 2002, ECF No.
117, and on March 8, 2002, private attorney Joanne Maria
Vasco entered her appearance to represent the plaintiff.
Id., ECF No. 118; see case caption
(designating Vasco as “Retained”). However, on
March 20, 2002, Judge Huvelle granted Vasco's motion to
withdraw as the plaintiff's counsel. Id., ECF
No. 125. Meanwhile, on March 5, 2002, Judge Huvelle scheduled
a hearing on the plaintiff's motion to withdraw his
guilty plea for June 3, 2002. On May 3, 2002, Jensen Egerton
Barber was then appointed to represent the plaintiff.
Id., ECF No. 129; see case caption
(designating Barber as a “CJA Appointment”).
criminal case docket indicates that Judge Huvelle conducted a
hearing on the plaintiff's motion to withdraw his guilty
plea on June 3, 2002, and June 4, 2002, denied the motion
“for reasons stated on the record, ” referred the
plaintiff to the probation office for the preparation of a
presentence investigation report, and scheduled sentencing
for June 27, 2002. On June 27, 2002, the sentencing hearing
was converted to a status hearing, during which Judge Huvelle
granted Attorney Barber's oral motion to withdraw as the
plaintiff's counsel, permitted retained counsel Larry
Brown to represent the plaintiff pro hac vice, and
rescheduled the sentencing for July 9, 2002. See
case caption (designating Brown as “Retained”).
9, 2002, Judge Huvelle denied the plaintiff's oral motion
to continue the sentencing hearing and to withdraw his guilty
plea. She then sentenced the plaintiff to an aggregate prison
sentence of 250 months (or nearly 21 years) followed by a
term of supervised release totaling eight years. See
Crim. No. 01-168 (July 9, 2002 Docket Entry). In addition,
the plaintiff was ordered to pay restitution totaling $405,
224.00. Id.; see also Judgment at 5.
The Post-Conviction Proceedings
19, 2002, the plaintiff noticed his appeal of the order
denying his motion to withdraw his guilty plea. Crim. No.
01-168, ECF No. 156. In 2003, the District of Columbia
Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”) issued the following
It is ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that the judgment of conviction
entered on January 9, 2002 be affirmed. Because the plea
colloquy met the standards of Fed.R.Civ.P. 11, and because
appellant has failed to advance a colorable claim of
innocence, the district court did not abuse its discretion in
denying appellant's motion to withdraw his plea.
United States v. West, No. 02-3070, 2003 WL 467239,
at *1 (D.C. Cir. Feb. 14, 2003) (per curiam) (citation
omitted). In July 2003, the plaintiff filed a motion pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (2000) to vacate, set aside or
correct his sentence, which Judge Huvelle denied on April 30,
2004. See Crim. No. 01-168, ECF Nos. 228, 284;
see also id., ECF No. 293 (Order denying certificate
of appealability). In 2011, the D.C. Circuit denied the
plaintiff “authorization to file a second or successive
§ 2255 motion . . . to vacate the coerced plea agreement
and resulting judgment under authority of 28 U.S.C. §
2255” because he had “not shown that the motion
contains either newly discovered evidence or a new rule of
constitutional law, made retroactive to cases on collateral
review by the Supreme Court, that was previously unavailable,
so as to meet the standards set out in 28 U.S.C. §
2255(h).” In re: Gary Emerson West, No.
11-3036 (D.C. Cir. July 18, 2011), Crim. No. 01-168, ECF No.
2016, however, the D.C. Circuit granted the plaintiff's
“petition for leave to file a second or successive
motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255” to challenge
his sentence in light of Johnson v. United States,
__ U.S. __, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015), but it “express[ed]
no opinion as to the merits of petitioner's claim.”
In re: Gary Emerson West, No. 16-3057 (D.C. Cir.
July 1, 2016) (citing 28 U.S.C. 2244(b)), Crim. No. 01-168,
ECF No. 391. On September 11, 2019, Research & Writing
Attorney Benjamin Flick of the Federal Public Defender's
Office entered his ...