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Standfield v. United States

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Northwestern Division

June 6, 2019

TIMOTHY BRYAN STANDFIELD, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          KAJ ON OWEN BOWDRE, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         In July 2015, Timothy Bryan Standfield pled guilty to one count of bank robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a) and (d), and this court entered judgment against him. (Cr. Doc. 23). The court sentenced him to 130 months of imprisonment. (Id.). Mr. Standfield filed a notice of appeal on August 7, 2015, but then voluntarily dismissed his appeal on November 9, 2015. (Cr. Docs. 26, 36).

         Mr. Standfield's moves under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to vacate, set aside, or correct the sentence by a person in federal custody. (Doc. 1).[1] In support of his motion, Mr. Standfield claims that ineffective assistance of counsel on four different grounds caused his sentence to be improperly enhanced. The grounds include his counsel's failures to object to (1) the carjacking enhancement, (2) the obstruction of justice enhancement, (3) the improper release date and amount of time served on the PSR, and (4) the improper end of sentence date in his criminal history.

         On August 2, 2016, the court ordered the Government to show cause why the court should not grant the relief requested by Mr. Standfield. (Doc. 2). On August 23, 2016, the Government filed “Response to Petitioner's § 2255 Motion.” (Doc. 3). On August 25, 2016, the court notified Mr. Standfield that it deemed the case ripe for summary disposition in accordance with McBride v. Sharpe, 25 F.3d 962 (11th Cir. 1994), and ordered Mr. Standfield to submit any additional evidentiary materials or legal arguments he wished to offer on or before September 15, 2016. (Doc. 4). Mr. Standfield filed “Petitioner's Response to Respondent's Motion to Dismiss Petitioner's § 2255 Motion” on September 28, 2016. (Doc. 5). The motion is now ripe for review.

         I. Background

         The indictment charged Mr. Standfield with one count of Bank Robbery under 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a) and (d). On March 24, 2015, he entered into a plea agreement with the government and pled guilty. The plea agreement contained a Waiver of Right to Appeal and Post-Conviction Relief. (Cr. Doc. 2). But Mr. Standfield reserved the right to contest ineffective assistance of counsel.

         In the presentence investigation report (PSR), the probation officer calculated an offense level of 28, criminal history category V, and a Guideline imprisonment range from 130-162 months. (Cr. Doc. 21).

         Mr. Standfield's counsel objected to the report on five grounds. (Cr. Doc. 15). First, counsel objected to Paragraphs 15 and 16 of the PSR, which explained an enhancement for obstruction of justice by the creation of a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury to another person in the course of fleeing from a law enforcement officer under U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Manual § 3C1.2. According to the PSR, a sheriff's deputy observed a blue Ford F- 150 traveling at a high rate of speed north on County Road 47. The deputy attempted to pursue the vehicle, but the vehicle veered off the road, drove through a field, and then reentered the highway at a speed exceeding 120 miles per hour. Counsel argued that no evidence shows that the vehicle described was the same vehicle owned or used by Mr. Standfield or that he operated the vehicle at that time, noting that “there has been no evidence that the blue Ford F-150 seen traveling through the field and in speeds greater than 120 miles per hour is that of Mr. Standfield.” (Cr. Doc. 15 at 2).

         Second, counsel objected to Paragraph 22, Specific Offense Characteristics. Paragraph 22 increased the offense level by two because of Mr. Standfield's attempted carjacking pursuant to § 2B3.1(b)(7)(B) of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Manual.

         Third, counsel objected to Paragraph 26, Adjustment for Obstruction of Justice. Paragraph 26 increased the offense level by two because of Mr. Standfield's creation of a substantial risk of death or seriously bodily injury to another person in the course of fleeing from a law enforcement officer pursuant to § 3C1.2 of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Manual.

         Fourth, counsel contended that Paragraph 31, which asserted that the total offense level was 28, should be reduced to an offense level of 24.

         Fifth, counsel contended that Paragraph 83-which asserted that, based upon a total offense level of 28 and a criminal history category of V, the guideline imprisonment range is 130 months to 162 months-“should be revised to a total offense level of 24, and a criminal history category of V, [and] the guideline imprisonment range [to] 91 months to 115 months.” (Cr. Doc. 15 at 2).

         Mr. Standfield's counsel later withdrew the objection to the carjacking enhancement in Paragraph 22 upon reviewing a video of Mr. Standfield's attempted carjacking. (Doc. 3 at 2; Cr. Doc. 18 at 7). But his counsel maintained the objection to the obstruction of justice enhancement for creating a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury while fleeing law enforcement.

         On July 6, 2015, at Mr. Standfield's sentencing, the court heard oral argument on the obstruction of justice enhancement. The court overruled the objection and sentenced Mr. Standfield to 130 months, which was on the low end of the Guidelines suggestion. Mr. Standfield argued for a downward variance, which the court refused to consider because “Mr. Standfield has received a huge break in not being charged with all six of the bank robberies, only being charged with one. Had he been charged with all six, his guidelines range would have been approximately 210 to 262 months in prison.” (Doc. 35 at 36).

         Mr. Standfield, through his counsel, appealed his sentence to the Eleventh Circuit on July 27, 2015, but he voluntarily dismissed his appeal on November 9, 2015. Just over eight months later, he filed this § 2255 motion on July 25, 2016. He contends that he received ineffective assistance of counsel because his attorney failed to object to (1) the carjacking enhancement, (2) the obstruction of justice enhancement, (3) the improper release date and amount of time served on the PSR, and (4) the improper end of sentence date in his criminal history.

         II. ...


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