United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division
BOLAJI OWOLABI, BOP Reg. # 70187-019, Movant,
UNITED STATES, Respondent.
TO VACATE 28 U.S.C. § 2255
MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S FINAL REPORT AND
S. ANAND, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
has filed a 28 U.S.C. § 2255 motion to vacate his
sentence. (Doc. 88). IT IS RECOMMENDED that
the motion be DENIED.
2016, Movant was indicted in this Court on two counts of
access device fraud (Counts 1 & 3) and two related counts
of aggravated identity theft (Counts 2 & 4) based on
events that occurred on June 9 & 23, 2016. (Doc. 14).
Movant signed a Guilty Plea and Plea Agreement (Doc. 45-1)
and entered a plea of guilty to Counts 1 and 2 only. (Doc. 82
(Plea Hr'g Tr.)). He was sentenced to a one-year term of
imprisonment for access device fraud and to a mandatory
consecutive two-year term for aggravated identity theft.
(Doc. 53; see Doc. 83 (Sentencing Hr'g Tr.)).
Standard of Review
federal prisoner may file a motion to vacate his sentence
“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.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). But it is
well-settled that “to obtain collateral relief, a
prisoner must clear a significantly higher hurdle than would
exist on direct appeal.” United States v.
Frady, 456 U.S. 152, 166 (1982).
Movant's Grounds For Relief: Ineffective Assistance
alleges that he received ineffective assistance of counsel
from Donnell Holiday, his defense attorney, who failed to (1)
ensure that he understood all the consequences of his guilty
plea; (2) subject the prosecution's case to meaningful
adversarial testing during the plea phase; and (3) ensure
that his appellate rights were preserved. (Doc. 88 at 4-7;
see Doc. 88-1 (Supp. Mem.) at 7-12).
Supreme Court set forth the standard for evaluating claims of
ineffective assistance of counsel in Strickland v.
Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984); see Dell v. United
States, 710 F.3d 1267, 1272 (11th Cir. 2013) (applying
Strickland standard of review to
ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claim raised in § 2255
motion). “An ineffectiveness claim . . . is an attack
on the fundamental fairness of the proceeding whose result is
challenged.” Strickland, 466 U.S. at 697. The
analysis involves two components, but a court need not
address both if the petitioner “makes an insufficient
showing on one.” Id.
a federal court determines “whether, in light of all
the circumstances, the identified acts or omissions [of
counsel] were outside the wide range of professionally
competent assistance.” Id. at 690. The court
“must be highly deferential” in scrutinizing
counsel's performance and “must indulge a strong
presumption that counsel's conduct falls within the wide
range of reasonable professional assistance.”
Id. at 689. In other words, the petitioner
“must overcome the presumption that, under the
circumstances, the challenged action might be considered
sound trial strategy.” Id. (Internal
quotations omitted). “Given the strong presumption in
favor of competence, the petitioner's burden of
persuasion-though the presumption is not insurmountable-is a
heavy one.” Chandler v. United States, 218
F.3d 1305, 1314 (11th Cir. 2000) (en banc). Second,
a federal court determines whether counsel's challenged
acts or omissions prejudiced the petitioner, i.e., whether
“there is a reasonable probability”-one
“sufficient to undermine confidence in the
outcome”-that “but for counsel's
unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would
have been different.” Strickland, 466 U.S. at
To prevail on a claim of ineffective assistance, a defendant
must establish two things: (1) “counsel's
performance was deficient, ” meaning it “fell
below an objective standard of reasonableness, ” and
(2) “the deficient performance prejudiced the
defense.” Strickland, 466 U.S. [at] 687-88
. To satisfy the deficient-performance prong, the defendant
must show that counsel made errors so serious that he was not
functioning as the counsel guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment.
Id. at 687. The defendant must rebut the strong
presumption that his counsel's conduct fell within the
range of reasonable professional assistance. Id. at
Connolly v. United States, 568 Fed.Appx. 770, 770-71
(11th Cir. 2014).
Movant's Plea Not Knowing and Voluntary
first claims that “Donnell Holiday ‘coerced'
[him] into agreeing to the government's plea offer, for
fear of the enormous sentence” he would receive if he
lost at trial, but actually because of counsel's
“inexperience, incompetence, laziness,
etc.”─and therefore Movant “did not
voluntarily sign the plea agreement.” (Doc. 88-1 at 7).
Movant also claims that he “did not fully understand or
accept the agreement he signed, ” “despite the
questioning by the district judge to ostensibly establish
that [he] understood all the terms and conditions of
the plea agreement.” (Id.). He “admitted
to what was in his indictment, [but] he did not fully
understand or accept all the ramifications of his
plea.” (Id. at 8).
undisputed evidence before the Court reveals otherwise. At
his guilty plea hearing, Movant ...