United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
KEENAN L. HUTTON, Petitioner,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.
MEMORANDUM OF OPINION AND ORDER
Scott Coogler United States District Judge
a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct a sentence pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, filed by petitioner Keenan L.
Hutton (“Hutton”). (Doc. 1.) Hutton claims that
her guilty plea was not knowingly and voluntarily made and
that her defense counsel was ineffective for failing to file
a direct appeal after she asked him to. The United States has
responded in opposition to Hutton's § 2255 motion
but acknowledges that a limited evidentiary hearing is
warranted on Hutton's ineffective assistance of counsel
claim as it relates to the direct appeal. (Doc. 5.)
reasons set forth below, the § 2255 motion is due to be
denied and dismissed as to Hutton's involuntary guilty
plea claim, and her ineffective assistance of counsel claim
is due to be reserved for an evidentiary hearing.
March 26, 2015, Hutton was indicted by a federal grand jury
on one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g).
26, 2015, Hutton pled guilty pursuant to a plea agreement
(“the Plea Agreement”). As part of the Plea
Agreement, Hutton waived her appellate rights subject to some
exceptions, one of which being her right to appeal on the
basis of ineffective assistance of counsel. Hutton's
defense counsel, James Gibson of the Federal Public
Defender's Office, filed a signed Guilty Plea Advice of
Rights Certification, and pursuant to Rule 11 of the Federal
Rules of Criminal Procedure, the Court addressed Hutton on
the record regarding the consequences of her plea and whether
it was being knowingly and voluntarily made.
November 17, 2016, the Court sentenced Hutton to a
below-Sentencing Guidelines sentence of sixty (60)
months' custody to run concurrent with two state cases
and thirty-six (36) months' supervised release. Hutton
agreed to the forfeiture of the involved weapon. Judgment was
entered on November 18, 2015. Hutton did not appeal. This is
her first motion to vacate under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, and
she filed it on April 27, 2016.
§ 2255 proceeding if a “petitioner alleges facts
that, if true, would entitle [her] to relief, then the
district court should order an evidentiary hearing and rule
on the merits of [her] claim.” Aron v. United
States, 291 F.3d 708, 714-15 (11th Cir. 2002) (internal
quotation marks and citations omitted). However, a district
court need not hold an evidentiary hearing if the
petitioner's allegations are “patently frivolous,
” “based upon unsupported generalizations,
” or “affirmatively contradicted by the
record.” Holmes v. United States, 876 F.2d
1545, 1553 (11th Cir. 1989). The record in this case includes
the affidavit filed by Hutton's criminal defense counsel,
which the United States attached to its response in
opposition to Hutton's motion. (Doc. 5-1.) See
Rule 8(a), Rules Governing 2255 Proceedings.
A Limited Evidentiary Hearing is Warranted on Hutton's
Claim that Defense Counsel was Ineffective in Relation to a
asserts that her defense counsel's performance was
constitutionally deficient because he failed to file a notice
of appeal when she requested one after sentencing. However,
Assistant Federal Defender James Gibson patently denies
Petitioner's assertion. (Gibson Affidavit, Doc. 5-1.) Mr.
Gibson swears that he “timely advised Ms. Hutton of her
right to appeal, ” and “Ms. Hutton did not
request that [he] file an appeal for her.”
waived certain rights when she entered into her guilty plea,
but she did not waive the right to raise a claim of
ineffective assistance of counsel on appeal or on collateral
attack. Moreover, claims of ineffective assistance of counsel
may be raised for the first ...