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Barfield v. United States

United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division

March 7, 2017

ADAM JOSEPH BARFIELD, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          ORDER

          JAMES C. FOX, Senior United States District Judge

         Before the court are the following:

(1) the Government's Motion to Dismiss [DE-467], which has been construed as a motion for summary judgment; and
(2) Adam Joseph Barfield's ("Barfield") pending Motions to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 [DE-452, -476].[1]

         The issues have been fully briefed, and the matter is now ripe for ruling. For the reasons set forth below, the Government's Motion for Summary Judgment is ALLOWED and Barfield's Motions to Vacate are DENIED.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         On April 23, 2014, Barfield was named in four counts of a twenty-two count indictment in the Eastern District of North Carolina. See Indictment [DE-1]. In Count One, Barfield was charged with conspiracy to manufacture, distribute, dispense, and possess with the intent to distribute fifty grams or more of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846. See Id. Barfield was charged in Count Eleven with possession of equipment, chemicals, products, and material with the intent to manufacture methamphetamine and aiding and abetting, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 843(a)(6) and 18 U.S.C. § 2. See Id. In Count Twelve, Barfield was charged with possession of pseudoephedrine with the intent to manufacture methamphetamine and aiding and abetting, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(c)(1) and 18 U.S.C. § 2. See Id. Barfield was charged in Count Thirteen with possession with the intent to distribute a quantity of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine and aiding and abetting, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and 18 U.S.C. § 2. See id.

         At his arraignment, held on November 4, 2014, Barfield pleaded guilty to Count One pursuant to a plea agreement [DE-206]. It was agreed that at sentencing as to Barfield only, the Government would dismiss Counts Eleven, Twelve, and Thirteen of the Indictment. Id. at 6. On September 1, 2015, this court conducted a hearing and heard testimony on an objection to the calculation of the Guidelines. See Sept. 1, 2015 Tr. [DE-355], Then, on September 29, 2015, this court held Barfield's sentencing and sentenced him to 360 months' imprisonment and a lifetime term of supervised release. See Judgment [DE-370]. Barfield did not file a direct appeal.

         On October 4, 2016, Barfield filed the instant pro se Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 [DE-452]. In his § 2255 motion, Barfield raises the following claims of ineffective assistance of counsel: (1) his attorney failed to have him mentally evaluated and failed to file a motion for downward departure; (2) his attorney focused on getting him to plead guilty and ignored drug weight issues; (3) his attorney failed to object to the leadership role enhancement; and (4) his attorney failed to object to this court's determination that the conspiracy started in December 2011.

         On November 10, 2016, the Government filed a Motion to Dismiss [DE-467] pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), arguing that Barfield failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. On November 18, 2016, Barfield filed an amended motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 [DE-476], in which Barfield expounds on the claims addressed in his original § 2255 motion. In an order entered on December 15, 2016 [DE-481], this court advised the parties that it intended to construe the Government's Motion to Dismiss as one seeking summary judgment.[2] Id. at 1. On January 10, 2017, Barfield filed an Opposition [DE-488] to the Government's Motion to Dismiss.

         II. Legal Standards

         A. 28 U.S.C. § 2255

         Barfield filed the instant motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, which provides:

A prisoner in custody under sentence of a court established by Act of Congress claiming the right to be released upon the ground that the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, or that the court was without jurisdiction to impose such sentence, or that the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law, or is otherwise subject to collateral attack, may move the court which imposed the sentence to vacate, set aside or correct the sentence.

28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). With a § 2255 motion, the petitioner bears the burden of proving the grounds for collateral attack by a preponderance of the evidence. Miller v. United States, 261 F.2d 546, 547 (4th Cir. 1958). When deciding a § 2255 motion, the court need not hold a hearing when "the motion and the files and records of the case conclusively show that the prisoner is entitled to no relief." 28 U.S.C. § 2255(b). When conducting the § 2255(b) review, pro se filings are held to a less stringent standard. See Gordon v. Leeke, 514 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978).

         B. Summary Judgment

         Summary judgment is appropriate where there is no genuine issue of material fact and it appears that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. United States v. Lee, 943 F.2d 366, 368 (4th Cir. 1991) (applying the summary judgment standard to a motion to vacate). Any permissible inferences which are drawn from the underlying facts must be viewed in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587-88 (1986). Summary judgment is appropriate when the record taken as a whole could not lead a trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248-49 (1986).

         III. ...


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