393 F.3d 749 (8th Cir. 2005), 03-2590, Anderson v. United States

Docket Nº:03-2590.
Citation:393 F.3d 749
Party Name:Randy ANDERSON, Appellant, v. UNITED STATES of America, Appellee.
Case Date:January 04, 2005
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

Page 749

393 F.3d 749 (8th Cir. 2005)

Randy ANDERSON, Appellant,


UNITED STATES of America, Appellee.

No. 03-2590.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

January 4, 2005

Submitted: Oct. 18, 2004.

Page 750

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Patrick W. Noaker, argued, St. Paul, MN, for appellant.

Elizabeth C. Peterson, Asst. U.S. Atty., argued, Minneapolis, MN, for appellee.


BOWMAN, Circuit Judge.

Randy Anderson appeals the District Court's 1 denial of his post-conviction motion claiming that he received ineffective assistance of counsel while his case was on direct appeal. See 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (2000). Anderson asserts that his appellate counsel should have challenged the validity of Anderson's guilty plea on the ground that Anderson was misinformed about the statutory mandatory minimum and maximum sentences applicable to his crime. Under the reasoning of Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466, 120 S.Ct. 2348, 147 L.Ed.2d 435 (2000), which the United States Supreme Court issued while Anderson's case was on direct appeal, the actual sentencing range applicable to Anderson's crime was lower than what Anderson understood it to be at the time of his guilty plea. Because we find that appellate counsel's failure to challenge the validity of Anderson's plea on Apprendi grounds did not render appellate counsel's performance constitutionally deficient, we affirm.

On March 3, 1999, Anderson and several co-defendants were indicted for violating federal laws governing the possession and distribution of narcotics. Shortly thereafter, Anderson pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute a detectable amount of crack cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841 and 846. At the plea colloquy mandated by Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, Anderson was informed, and confirmed that he understood, that his guilty plea subjected him to a mandatory minimum sentence of twenty years' imprisonment and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. This sentence range was predicated on the minimum and maximum sentences set forth in 21 U.S.C. § 841(b) (1) (A), including the enhancement for a prior felony drug conviction. The District Court ultimately sentenced Anderson to thirty years' imprisonment and ten years of supervised release.

On direct appeal to this Court, Anderson challenged his sentence on multiple grounds. Anderson also challenged the validity of his guilty plea in his initial brief,

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but withdrew the challenge in his reply brief. This Court agreed with several of Anderson's contentions regarding his sentence, but found that the errors committed by the District Court were harmless. United States v. Anderson, 243 F.3d 478, 484-86 (8th Cir.), cert. denied, 534 U.S. 903 & 929, 122 S.Ct. 233 & 290, 151 L.Ed.2d 168 & 214 (2001). We thus affirmed Anderson's thirty-year sentence. Id. at 486. After the Supreme Court denied Anderson's petition for certiorari, Anderson filed his present motion seeking relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255.

Anderson argues that his counsel on direct appeal was ineffective because he failed to challenge the validity of Anderson's guilty plea on the ground that Anderson could not have voluntarily and knowingly entered the plea, as required by Rule 11, in light of the Supreme Court's decision in Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466, 120 S.Ct. 2348, 147 L.Ed.2d 435 (2000). Apprendi, which was issued between the time that Anderson filed his initial brief on direct appeal and reply brief on direct appeal, had a profound effect on how drug offenses were charged and proved. Prior to Apprendi and, indeed, when Anderson entered his plea, it was a common and accepted practice to apply the drug quantity provisions of 21 U.S.C. § 841(b) (1) as part of the sentencing process and not as part of the charging process. Thus, in Anderson's case, the indictment simply charged Anderson with violating § 841--it did not specify the sub-section of § 841 under which Anderson was being charged or state the quantity of cocaine alleged to be involved in Anderson's offense. At Anderson's plea hearing, however, the District Court, the government, and the defense all assumed that Anderson would be sentenced under the sentencing range provided in § 841(b) (1) (A), i.e., twenty...

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