United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
OWEN BOWDRE, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
February 14, 2012, after a two-day trial, a jury convicted
Christopher Jermaine Craig of possessing a firearm after
having been convicted of a felony, in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 922(g)(1). The court sentenced Mr. Craig to 70 months
in custody. Mr. Craig filed this motion to vacate, set aside,
or correct his sentence. (Civ. Doc. I). A prisoner
"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 . . . may move the court... to
vacate, set aside or correct the sentence." 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255. Mr. Craig's motion asserts that he received
ineffective assistance of counsel: (1) at trial, based on
counsel's failure to object to his retrial as a violation
of the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment; (2) at
sentencing, based on counsel's failure to properly
investigate and object to the calculation of his advisory
sentencing guidelines range; and (3) on appeal, based on
counsel's failure to raise a number of issues that Mr.
Craig wanted counsel to raise. The court finds that the
motion is due to be DENIED.
26, 2011, Mr. Craig was indicted on one count of violating 18
U.S.C. § 922(g)(1), being a felon in possession of a
firearm. At Mr. Craig's first trial in January 2012,
Assistant Federal Public Defender Glennon Threatt represented
him. That trial ended in a mistrial. An ATF agent and
Birmingham city police officers, within sight of some of the
jurors, had detained Johnetta Jackson-Mr. Craig's cousin
and a defense witness who had just testified-and Mr.
Craig's brother. The agent and officers then arrested Ms.
Jackson (but not Mr. Craig's brother) because she had at
least one outstanding warrant for her arrest. Officers
handcuffed Ms. Jackson in front of the courthouse and then
drove her away in a patrol car. When questioned later about
the incident, none of the jurors admitted having seen her
handcuffed or driven away.
this incident, the court met with defense attorney Mr.
Threatt, and the prosecutor, Enid Athanas, in chambers, where
the following discussion took place.
THE COURT: I understand we may have had an incident on the
MR. THREATT: I am livid about this. This is what I understand
happened. After Ms. Jackson testified, she was leaving the
building and Agent Tucker asked one of our jurors to stop
her, the juror called out Ms. Jackson's name and then she
was arrested. Now, by the time I got downstairs, she was in
handcuffs less than ten feet from the entrance of this
building. In addition to that, his brother was also detained
by Birmingham Police but he was not arrested.
MS. ATHANAS: I understood he had warrants outstanding, and
there was another potential witness who had warrants
outstanding. Once they left the courthouse grounds, they
would be arrested because they had outstanding warrants.
First of all, my belief was that we would all be up here in
the courtroom, jurors included, that that would occur outside
the presence of any sort of jurors at all. Second of all, I
can't even fathom that Ms. Tucker would have, I mean, I
can't even believe that this happened. That is
unbelievable to me that that occurred. And if it did,
THE COURT: I agree. A juror was asked to stop her.
MR. THREATT: Yes.
THE COURT: Do you know which juror?
MR. THREATT: My client's brother and his wife were with
Ms. Jackson and saw the juror and believe they can identify
THE COURT: Do they know which one?
MR. THREATT: They could identify the juror. I could ask them
to describe them, if Your Honor wants. I am moving for a
mistrial. I don't know why the police didn't tell
your courtroom - I could understand them not telling you. I
don't understand courtroom staff not knowing to keep the
jury in the jury room until such time as they got a call that
they could be released. Even that is hindsight.
MS. ATHANAS: I apologize. Like I said, I understood that once
she left the courthouse, and Sandra said, we can't - Ms.
Tucker, of course, she said, we don't, you know, these
people have warrants, we have to, we have to have them
arrested, but we won't do it in the courthouse, we
couldn't do it in the courthouse. But I will get her
outside the courthouse.
THE COURT: Was this like on the courthouse steps?
MR. THREATT: Less than ten feet from entrance to the
building. I saw that. I went downstairs and she was standing
in handcuffs within arm's reach of the door. And there
were two, both of the officers who testified on the case and
MS. ATHANAS: Obviously, I had no idea that it was going to go
down that way. I had no input. They did not obviously ask me
how they were suppose to arrest someone. We didn't
discuss it. I just assume that Sandra knew better than to do
that, quite frankly, because we have had this whole
conversation. I mean, she has been present - she is an
experienced police officer. She knows that you can't talk
to jurors, she sat there and listened to the Court's
instructions and knows that we don't interact with jurors
period, first of all. Second of all, that she would be
arrested in a place where she could have been seen, given the
timing of when it occurred, is shocking to me.
(Cr. Doc. 66 at 3:4-5:24).
individually questioning the jurors about what they had seen
of the incident and their perceptions of it, the court