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Williams v. United States

United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division

April 3, 2017




         This matter is before the Court on Magistrate Judge Gerrilyn G. Brill's Final Report and Recommendation [197] (“R&R”), [1] recommending that Movant Tywan L. Williams' (“Williams”) Motion to Vacate, Set Aside or Correct Sentence Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 [181], as amended [182], [186] (together, “§ 2255 Motion”), be denied, that civil action number 1:14-cv-1283-WSD be dismissed, and that a certificate of appealability be denied. Also before the Court are Williams' Objections [201] to the R&R, his Motions for Extension of Time to File Objections [199], [200], [2] his motion to file a “second/successive motion” [205], and his “Motion to Supplement 2255(a)” [210], [211] (“Motion to Supplement”).

         I. BACKGROUND[3]

         In 2007, a grand jury, in the Northern District of Georgia, returned an Indictment [4] charging Williams with three counts of “ramm[ing] his Cadillac Escalade vehicle, a deadly and dangerous weapon, into a [vehicle] driven by a law enforcement officer, ” in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 111(a)(1)-(b). On March 17, 2008, Williams pleaded guilty to Count 1 of the Indictment. ([30.1]). At a May 20, 2008, hearing scheduled for sentencing, Williams expressed regrets about his guilty plea. The sentencing hearing was adjourned to give Williams time to decide whether to withdraw his guilty plea. ([32]).

         On June 11, 2008, Williams orally moved to withdraw his guilty plea. The district court judge told Williams his request was “against [his] best interest” and a “tragic, tragic, mistake.” ([111] at 2). She predicted the consequences of the withdrawal would “be profound.” ([111] at 2). Williams insisted that he wanted to go to trial, and confirmed he understood the government would not engage in further plea discussions. ([111] at 2). The district court judge granted Williams' request to withdraw his guilty plea. ([111] at 2-4). In November 2008, Williams was tried, by a jury, on the charges in the Indictment.

The evidence presented at trial established that Williams was a fugitive and tried to elude federal marshals when they attempted to arrest him. In 2005, after a North Carolina court issued a warrant for his arrest, Williams agreed to surrender, but never did so. Officers made several unsuccessful attempts to arrest Williams, and later transferred the matter to the United States Marshals Service. Armed with information that Williams had traveled repeatedly to Atlanta, Georgia, and with a second arrest warrant issued by a Georgia court, federal marshals searched for Williams.
In January 2007, Anthony Simpson, a deputy United States Marshal, and two deputies of the Cobb County Sheriff's Department observed a Cadillac Escalade vehicle in the parking lot of an apartment complex in Atlanta. The vehicle, which was painted a maroon color, matched the description of Williams's vehicle. The officers attempted to follow the vehicle, but were separated from the vehicle in traffic.
The next day, Simpson and other federal marshals returned to the apartment complex to search for Williams's vehicle. The marshals were clad in bulletproof vests that stated they were members of the Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force, and the marshals were driving unmarked vehicles that were equipped with blue lights in the front and rear windshields, front and rear strobe lights, and sirens. After receiving a report that Williams was at a local British Petroleum gas station, the marshals drove to the station.
Deputy Marshal Wayne Warren and other federal marshals parked their vehicles in a line in the parking lot of the gas station. Williams saw the marshals and ran to his Escalade vehicle. Warren activated the emergency lights in his Dodge Durango vehicle and parked parallel to Williams to block his escape. Williams drove his Escalade vehicle in reverse and, as Warren tried to prevent an escape, Williams rammed the rear of Warren's Durango vehicle repeatedly. Warren stopped his vehicle momentarily and watched Williams strike the front end of Deputy Marshal Nana Joyner's Ford F-150 truck and Deputy Marshal Brad Bennett's unmarked Ford Expedition vehicle as it entered the parking lot with its lights and sirens activated. Warren repositioned his Durango vehicle to block the exit, but Williams struck the vehicle a second time and drove out of the parking lot into oncoming rush-hour traffic.
Several federal marshals, including Warren and Simpson, pursued Williams with their sirens and emergency lights activated. The marshals followed Williams's speeding vehicle on a ramp that led to Interstate 285. To compensate for his speed, Williams made a wide turn onto the ramp that allowed Warren to maneuver beside Williams. Williams rammed Warren's Durango vehicle, and Warren struggled to keep his vehicle on the ramp and away from the edge of an embankment that was 75 feet off the ground. After Warren regained control of his vehicle, Williams forced Warren's speeding vehicle to scrape against the barrier wall long enough to produce sparks.
Warren fired two rounds of ammunition from his gun at Williams, and a bullet struck Williams in the eye. Williams lost control of his vehicle, but Warren pinned the vehicle against a retaining wall. Federal marshals broke the windows of Williams's vehicle, deflated its airbags, and removed Williams from the vehicle.
Williams testified that he did not realize his pursuers were federal marshals until they broke the windows of his vehicle. Williams said he thought the marshals were carjackers because he had noticed a sport utility vehicle with tinted windows following him and the other vehicles had been unmarked and lacked emergency lights. Williams stated that a vehicle hit his Escalade vehicle while he was backing out of his parking space at the gas station, which caused the side airbags in his vehicle to deploy and limited his vision. Williams testified that several vehicles struck his Escalade vehicle, but he alleged that he did not see emergency lights on the vehicles or hear any emergency sirens. When Williams tried to drive out of the parking lot, he swerved to avoid colliding with a black sport utility vehicle, which forced him into oncoming traffic. Williams asserted that he had been shot before he reached the ramp and had lost control of his vehicle, and he denied trying to force Warren off the ramp.
Williams admitted there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest, but he testified that he did not believe officers were looking actively for him. Williams testified that a year earlier a police officer agreed not to “pressure” Williams and to allow him to “get [his] things together before [he] surrender[ed][.]” When asked why he was in possession of another man's driver's license and driving someone else's vehicle, Williams responded that the man was a “family member” for whom he had “probably” been “keeping [the license] safe” and his girlfriend had allowed him to drive her rental vehicle.

United States v. Williams, 627 F.3d 839, 841-42 (11th Cir. 2010).

         On November 18, 2008, at the conclusion of the government's case-in-chief, the trial court granted Williams' motion for a judgment of acquittal on Count 2 of the Indictment, finding that there was insufficient evidence to sustain a conviction. ([119] at 133). The next day, the jury found Williams guilty on Counts 1 and 3 of the Indictment. ([72]). On December 2, 2008, the court sentenced Williams to 120 months in prison. ([94] at 21). The Court, over the government's objections, gave Williams a two-point reduction for acceptance of responsibility, and declined to give him a two-point enhancement for obstruction of justice for giving false testimony at trial. ([94] at 8-11).

         The government appealed Williams' sentence, arguing that the district court should have enhanced Williams' sentence for obstruction of justice on the grounds that he falsely testified, at trial, that (1) “he thought he was evading carjackers, ” (2) he did not intend to assault the officers, and (3) “he was innocent of wrongdoing and the marshals were to blame for the incident.” Williams, 627 F.3d at 840, 845. The government also argued that the district court should not have reduced Williams' sentence for acceptance of responsibility, because Williams “withdrew his plea of guilty, declared at trial that he was factually innocent, and was found guilty by a jury.” Id. at 840.

         On December 8, 2010, the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit accepted the government's arguments, and remanded the case to the district court for resentencing. Id. at 845.[4] On April 16, 2012, the district court resentenced Williams to 210 months in prison. ([166]). On April 27, 2012, Williams filed his Notice of Appeal [167], challenging his sentence on the grounds that it “is procedurally and substantively unreasonable because the district court (1) engaged in a cursory discussion of the factors listed in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a), and (2) failed to consider or address his post-offense rehabilitation.” United States v. Williams, 511 F. App'x 836, 837 (11th Cir. 2013). On February 28, 2013, the Court of Appeals affirmed Williams' sentence. Id.

         On April 15, 2014, Williams filed his § 2255 Motion, which he amended on June 16, 2014. Williams claims his trial and appellate counsel rendered ineffective assistance by (1) advising Williams to withdraw his guilty plea, knowing that Williams “would face a[n] obstruction of justice[] and perjury enhancement 3C1.1 should [he] take the stand and tell the truth”; (2) failing to object to the mislabeling of Government Exhibits 10N, 10Q, 10L, 10J, 10O, 10P and 10I; (3) failing to seek “removal of incorrect and irrelevant Government Exhibits 10I, 10J, 10K, 10L, 10M, 10N from evidence prior to deliberation”; (4) “refusing to appeal the preserved issue of repeated prejudicial Government testimony”; (5) failing to move for federal funding to pay for an accident reconstruction expert witness; (6) “not appealing effect of cumulative error and for not objecting and moving for mistrial due to the accumulation of errors”; (7) “misleading and misadvising the jury during closing argument that there isn't any photos of [the] burgundy Escalade to prove Government witness testimony is false”; and (8) “failing and refusing to appeal the cumulative errors committed by the district court by participation in plea discussion that deprived defendant [of] a fair trial.” ([182]; [186]).

         On September 28, 2015, the Magistrate Judge issued her R&R, recommending that Williams' § 2255 Motion be denied, that civil action number 1:14-cv-1283-WSD be dismissed, and that a certificate of appealability be denied. On November 7, 2015, Williams filed his Objections to the R&R, generally repeating the arguments he asserted in his § 2255 Motion.


         A. Standard of Review

         After conducting a careful and complete review of the findings and recommendations, a district judge may accept, reject, or modify a magistrate judge's report and recommendation. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Williams v. Wainwright, 681 F.2d 732 (11th Cir. 1982), cert. denied, 459 U.S. 1112 (1983). A district judge “shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). With respect to those findings and recommendations to which objections have not been asserted, the Court must conduct a plain error review of the record. United States v. Slay, 714 F.2d 1093, 1095 (11th Cir. 1983), cert. denied, 464 U.S. 1050 (1984). In view of Williams' Objections, the Court conducts a de novo review of the record.

         B. Legal Standard for Strickland Claims

         To prevail on an ineffective assistance of counsel claim, a petitioner must show that counsel's conduct was “outside the wide range of professionally competent assistance” and that “there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different.” Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 690, 694 (1984). Courts must “indulge a strong presumption that counsel's conduct falls within the wide range of reasonable professional assistance.” Id. at 689. “[F]or a petitioner to show that the conduct was unreasonable, a petitioner ...

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