United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
L. PATRICK AULD, Magistrate Judge.
This case comes before the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge on Petitioner's Motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence (Docket Entry 68) (hereinafter "Section 2255 Motion"). For the reasons that follow, the Court should deny Petitioner's Section 2255 Motion.
This Court (per now-Chief United States District Judge William L. Osteen, Jr.) previously entered a Judgment against Petitioner imposing, inter alia, a prison term of 36 months, following a jury verdict of guilt on four counts of mail fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1341. (Docket Entry 37; see also Docket Entry 1 (Indictment); Docket Entry 22 (Jury Verdict); Docket Entries dated July 26-29, 2010 (documenting trial); Docket Entries dated Feb. 3 & Mar. 29, 2011 (documenting sentencing); Docket Entries 52-54 (Trial Tr.); Docket Entries 55, 59 (Sent'g Tr.).) The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed. United States v. Perry, 478 F.Appx. 1 (4th Cir. 2012). Petitioner thereafter timely filed her Section 2255 Motion (Docket Entry 68), the United States responded (Docket Entry 73), and (despite notice of her right to reply (see Docket Entry 74)) Petitioner did not file a reply (see Docket Entries dated Oct. 24, 2013, to present).
Petitioner's Section 2255 Motion asserts these six claims:
1) "Failure [by Petitioner's Counsel] to Conduct Prompt, Appropriate and Adequate Investigation of Facts and Witnesses Relevant to [Her] Defense" (Docket Entry 68, ¶ 12(Ground One));
2) "Failure [by Petitioner's Counsel] to Negotiate a Fair/Reasonable Plea Agreement" (id., ¶ 12(Ground Two));
3) "Attempt [by Petitioner's Counsel] to Coerce [Her] to Sign Documents which Protected the Best Interests of Counsels Rather than the Best Interest of [Petitioner]" (id., ¶ 12(Ground Three));
4) "Failure [by Petitioner's Counsel] to Communicate to [the Court Petitioner's] Request to Dismiss [Her Counsel] and Retain Other Trial Counsel" (id., ¶ 12(Ground Four));
5) "Failure [by Petitioner's Counsel] to File Post Trial Motions" (id., ¶ 12(Ground Five)); and
6) "Failure [by Petitioner's Counsel] to Provide Substantial Assistance with regard to Sentencing" (id., ¶ 12(Ground Six)).
"In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right... to have the Assistance of Counsel for h[er] defence." U.S. Const. amend. VI. "[T]he right to counsel is the right to the effective assistance of counsel." McMann v. Richardson, 397 U.S. 759, 771 n.14 (1970). To make out an ineffective assistance claim, Petitioner must show that her counsel's performance fell below a reasonable standard for defense attorneys and that prejudice resulted. See Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687-94 (1984). "Surmounting Strickland's high bar is never an easy task.... [T]he standard for judging counsel's representation is a most deferential one." Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 105 (2011) (internal quotation marks omitted); see also ...