United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
VINCENT L. FIELDS, Petitioner,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.
Honorable James L. Robart, U.S. District Court Judge.
the court is Defendant-Petitioner Vincent Fields’s
motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to vacate, set aside, or
correct sentence. (Mot. (Dkt. # 1).) In his motion Defendant
argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel in
negotiating his Plea Agreement, at sentencing and following
his notice of appeal. (See generally id.) Defendant
does not seek to withdraw his guilty plea, rather he seeks a
resentencing where the parties would be bound by the terms of
his Plea Agreement. (See Mot. at 5.)
Defendant’s motion does not support a finding of
deficient performance of counsel, or the type of prejudice
necessary to support his requested relief. For this reason,
the court DENIES the motion (Dkt. # 1).
October 17, 2017, Defendant entered into a detailed Plea
Agreement (CR17-0119JLR, Dkt. # 20.) In exchange for
Defendant’s guilty plea to Counts 1 and 2, the
Government agreed to dismiss Count 3 of the indictment.
(See Id . at 8.) At his change-of-plea hearing
Defendant testified under oath he understood that based on
his prior convictions he would be scored as a career offender
and face a guideline range of 262-327 months. (CR17-0119JLR,
Dkt. # 48 at 12.) During the same hearing, Magistrate Judge
Tsuchida specifically advised Defendant that if he had been
convicted of all counts charged in the indictment, he could
have faced a total mandatory minimum sentence of 22 years.
(Id. at 13-14).
Defendant wrote the court arguing that his first lawyer
should have objected to the contents of the presentence
report. (CR17-0119JLR, Dkt. # 23 (sealed).) Defendant’s
first attorney withdrew and the court appointed a new
attorney for Defendant. (See CR17-0119JLR, Dkt. #
45.) On February 2, 2018, the court held a status conference.
(See CR17-0119JLR, Dkt. # 46.) After a long
discussion, Defendant stated he was not “making an
issue in the sense [his prior lawyer] was ineffective.
I’m not saying that.” (Id. at 27).
sentencing hearing the government recommended a total
sentence of 180 months in custody. Defendant’s second
attorney joined in the 180-month recommendation, and the
court imposed a sentence of 180 months. (CR17-0119JLR, Dkt. #
47 at 28-29.)
sentencing, Defendant filed a pro se notice of appeal.
(CR17-0119JLR, Dkt. # 42.) Defendant requested appellate
counsel and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals appointed a
third attorney to represent Defendant. (CR17-0119JLR, Dkt. #
44). Defendant/Appellant subsequently moved to voluntarily
dismiss his appeal, and the Ninth Circuit granted his motion.
(CR17-0119JLR, Dkt. # 49.)
support an ineffective assistance of counsel
(“IAC”) claim Defendant must show inadequate
performance and prejudice from the inadequate performance.
Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 690, 692
(1984). Defendant faults his first attorney for giving him
inaccurate advice. (See Mot. at 4.) The gravamen of
Defendant’s allegation is that his attorney failed to
dispute which of Defendant’s convictions should count
for purposes of his career offender guideline range. (See
generally id.) But Defendant admitted under oath he
entered into the Plea Agreement to take advantage of the
terms of the Plea Agreement insuring he would not face a
mandatory minimum sentence of at least 22 years.
(CR17-0119JLR, Dkt. # 48 at 13-14.) In addition, as discussed
in the Government’s Answer, Defendant’s first
attorney’s advice regarding Defendant’s prior
convictions at the career offender guidelines was accurate.
(Resp. (Dkt. # 8) at 10-13.)
claims against his second attorney are even more attenuated.
Defendant faults his second lawyer for not arguing that his
1995 murder conviction and 1987 drug conviction were not
predicate offenses to his armed career criminal enhancement.
(See Mot. at 12-15.) However, to so argue would have
been a breach of the Plea Agreement, allowing the Government
to withdraw from the Agreement and seek a higher sentence-a
result that Defendant, even today, seeks to avoid. The court
concludes that Defendant’s IAC claim is unsupported by
the facts and the law.
faults his third attorney for urging him to dismiss his
appeal. (See Mot. at 16-19). The change-of -plea
hearing establishes Defendant entered his plea knowingly and
voluntarily. (See generally CR17-0119JLR, Dkt. #
48.) The Plea Agreement contains a waiver on appeal.
(See CR17-0119JLR, Dkt. # 20 at 4.) An appeal would
allow the Government to void the Plea Agreement and seek a
higher sentence. Defendant’s third attorney recommended
not pursuing an untenable issue on appeal and risk withdrawal
of a very favorable Plea Agreement. In view of
Defendant’s continued hope to secure the benefits of
his Plea Agreement without being subject to its terms, it was
not ineffective assistance of counsel to recommend that the
appeal be dismissed.
foregoing reasons, Defendant’s motion for relief (Dkt.
# 1) is DENIED and a certificate of ...