820 F.Supp.2d 202 (D.Mass. 2011), Cr. 01-10384-MLW, United States v. Sampson

Docket NºCr. 01-10384-MLW.
Citation820 F.Supp.2d 202
Opinion JudgeWOLF, District Judge.
Party NameUNITED STATES of America v. Gary Lee SAMPSON.
AttorneyMiriam Conrad, Elizabeth L. Prevett, J. Martin Richey Federal Public Defender Office, Boston, MA, Susan Katherine Marcus, Susan K. Marcus, Esq., San Francisco, CA, William E. McDaniels, Jennifer G. WichtThomas P. Windom Williams & Connolly LLP Washington, DC for Gary Lee Sampson.
Case DateOctober 20, 2011
CourtUnited States District Courts, 1st Circuit, District of Massachusetts

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820 F.Supp.2d 202 (D.Mass. 2011)

UNITED STATES of America

v.

Gary Lee SAMPSON.

Cr. No. 01-10384-MLW.

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts.

October 20, 2011

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Miriam Conrad, Elizabeth L. Prevett, J. Martin Richey Federal Public Defender Office, Boston, MA, Susan Katherine Marcus, Susan K. Marcus, Esq., San Francisco, CA, William E. McDaniels, Jennifer G. WichtThomas P. Windom Williams & Connolly LLP Washington, DC for Gary Lee Sampson.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON SUMMARY DISMISSAL

WOLF, District Judge.

I. SUMMARY

On October 24, 2001, a federal grand jury charged Gary Lee Sampson with two

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counts of carjacking resulting in death in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2119(3). As described in United States v. Sampson, 335 F.Supp.2d 166, 174-75 (D.Mass.2004), the charges arose out of the murders of Philip McCloskey and Jonathan Rizzo by Sampson in Massachusetts in July, 2001. Sampson also killed Robert Whitney in New Hampshire and carjacked William Gregory in Vermont in July, 2001. Those crimes, while not charged in this case, were considered nonstatutory aggravating factors for sentencing purposes. The maximum penalty for the charged crimes was death. See § 2119(3).

Sampson pled guilty to the charged offenses. After a trial, a jury unanimously decided that he should be sentenced to death on both counts. The court sentenced Sampson to death on January 29, 2004, 300 F.Supp.2d 278 (D.Mass.2004). Sampson appealed unsuccessfully.

Following his appeal Sampson had a constitutional right to seek relief from his conviction and death sentence through a writ of habeas corpus, which for federal prisoners is codified in 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Section 2255 is a vehicle for determining, among other things, whether a defendant was deprived at trial of his constitutional right to the effective assistance of counsel. For such a claim, a motion under § 2255 is often the sole avenue for relief. See, e.g., United States v. Martins, 413 F.3d 139, 155 (1st Cir.2005) (citing United States v. Mala, 7 F.3d 1058, 1063 (1st Cir.1993)). Proceedings under § 2255, therefore, serve an important function in our system of criminal justice.

Sampson must satisfy a " ‘ highly demanding’ and ‘ heavy burden’ " to justify relief based on ineffective assistance of counsel. Knight v. Spencer, 447 F.3d 6, 15 (1st Cir.2006)(quoting Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 393, 120 S.Ct. 1495, 146 L.Ed.2d 389 (2000)). He faces similar challenges with respect to his other allegations. The court is, however, required by statute, by the Rules Governing Section 2255 Proceedings for the United States District Courts (the " § 2255 Rules" ), and by a substantial body of precedent to give careful attention to each of Sampson's claims. Such attention is particularly required in capital cases, " in which avoidance of error has a very high premium." See Trapp v. Spencer, 479 F.3d 53, 62 (1st Cir.2007).

Following some preliminary litigation, Sampson filed a First Amended Motion for a New Trial and to Vacate, Set Aside, and Correct Conviction and Death Sentence Made Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 and/or Rule 33 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure (the " Amended § 2255 Motion" ), in which he claims, among other things that his constitutional rights were violated because he received ineffective assistance of counsel. The government has requested that the court summarily dismiss all of the claims in the Amended § 2255 Motion.

The court will summarily dismiss some but not all of Sampson's claims. As explained in detail in this Memorandum, summary dismissal under § 2255 Rule 4(b) is appropriate only in limited circumstances, specifically only when " it plainly appears from the motion, any attached exhibits, and the record of prior proceedings that the moving party is not entitled to relief." § 2255 Rule 4(b); see 28 U.S.C. § 2255(b)(permitting dismissal only when " the motion and the files and records of the case conclusively show that the prisoner is entitled to no relief" ). Potentially meritorious claims that allege specific facts, that are based on information outside the presiding judge's knowledge and the records of the case, and that are not barred by procedural considerations may not be summarily dismissed, even if the

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ultimate likelihood of success on the merits appears relatively low to those familiar with the trial.

In this case, many of Sampson's claims will be summarily dismissed. Specifically, the court will dismiss Sampson's claims that he was denied effective assistance of counsel on the basis of trial counsel's failure to advise him to plead guilty prior to the Supreme Court's June 24, 2002 decision in Ring v. Arizona, 536 U.S. 584, 122 S.Ct. 2428, 153 L.Ed.2d 556 (2002), on the basis of counsel's advice that he plead guilty to the Second Superseding Indictment after the Ring decision, and on the basis of counsel's failure to move for an immediate mistrial when the bloody shirts of the victims were inadvertently exposed and may have been seen by some jurors (Claims III(G), (H) and (M), respectively). The court will also dismiss Sampson's claims that he is entitled to a new trial because the government failed to disclose certain exculpatory evidence, and abused the grand jury process (Claims V and VI, respectively). In addition, the court will dismiss Sampson's challenges to the constitutionality of the carjacking statute, 18 U.S.C. § 2119, and the Federal Death Penalty Act (" FDPA" ) (Claims VIII and IX, respectively). As to each of these claims, the court concludes that the motion, attached exhibits and the record of the prior proceedings " conclusively show that the prisoner is entitled to no relief." See 28 U.S.C. § 2255(b).

However, other claims cannot be conclusively resolved based on the motion and the record before the court. For example, Sampson alleges that his trial counsel failed to give his medical experts certain medical records that, if considered, would have led to additional investigation and, in turn, would have led to substantial additional evidence of brain abnormality, an important mitigating factor to be considered by the sentencing jury in a capital case (Claim III(C)). See, e.g., Porter v. McCollum, __ U.S. __, 130 S.Ct. 447, 454, 175 L.Ed.2d 398 (2009) (per curiam). On the present record, the court cannot conclude that Sampson's characterization of these events is inaccurate. Nor can it conclude that Sampson was not prejudiced at trial by the absence of this information. Similarly, the court cannot conclude that Sampson is not entitled to relief based on his claims that his counsel were ineffective because their investigation and presentation of mitigating evidence was inadequate in other respects, because their investigation and impeachment of a government witness was inadequate, because they did not present evidence to the jury that Sampson's demeanor in court was caused by medication, or because they did not raise a question with the court about Sampson's competency (Claims III(B),(D)-(F), (I)-(L) and (N)). Nor can the court conclude that Sampson is not entitled to relief based on the cumulative effect of some or all of these alleged errors (Claim X).

As to these claims, dismissal without an expansion of the record which would permit the accuracy of Sampson's claim to be tested would be contrary to the requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 2255(b) because Sampson's " allegations are not implausible, and because they could, if true, entitle him to relief." Owens v. United States, 483 F.3d 48, 60 (1st Cir.2007). Therefore, the court must permit discovery and expansion of the record and, if necessary, hold an evidentiary hearing to resolve genuine disputes of material fact. See Blackledge v. Allison, 431 U.S. 63, 82 n. 25, 97 S.Ct. 1621, 52 L.Ed.2d 136 (1977); United States v. Butt, 731 F.2d 75, 78 (1st Cir.1984); De Vincent v. United States, 602 F.2d 1006, 1010 (1st Cir.1979).

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Where courts have dismissed colorable § 2255 claims, the First Circuit has commonly remanded the case for further proceedings. See, e.g., Owens, 483 F.3d at 60-61, 70; Dziurgot v. Luther, 897 F.2d 1222, 1227 (1st Cir.1990). A remand at any stage of the proceeding can cause significant delay in resolving a capital case, where finality is both important and often elusive. See, e.g., Sears v. Upton, __ U.S. __, 130 S.Ct. 3259, 3267, 177 L.Ed.2d 1025 (2010) (Supreme Court vacating judgment in capital case seventeen years after conviction on the basis of ineffectiveness of counsel, where state post-conviction court did not apply proper prejudice standard); Porter, 130 S.Ct. at 448 (granting habeas relief more than twenty years after sentencing phase of capital trial on grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel, where state supreme court unreasonably concluded that defendant was not prejudiced by counsel's failures); Rompilla v. Beard, 545 U.S. 374, 389, 393, 125 S.Ct. 2456, 162 L.Ed.2d 360 (2005)(requiring retrial of penalty phase of capital case or stipulation to life sentence for a murder committed in 1988, where state court erroneously found counsel had adequately investigated mitigating evidence); Wiggins v. Smith, 539 U.S. 510, 535-36, 123 S.Ct. 2527, 156 L.Ed.2d 471 (2003)(finding investigation into mitigating evidence was constitutionally inadequate and prejudiced defendant in 1989 capital case); Scott v. Schriro, 567 F.3d 573, 577 (9th Cir.2009) (per curiam) (remanding a case for an evidentiary hearing approximately eighteen years after conviction). Accordingly, it is essential that the court make decisions that are properly...

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27 practice notes
  • 82 F.Supp.3d 502 (D.Mass. 2014), Cr. 01-10384-MLW, United States v. Sampson
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 1st Circuit District of Massachusetts
    • 8 Noviembre 2014
    ...because they failed to adequately investigate and present evidence concerning Sampson's mental condition. See United States v. Sampson, 820 F.Supp.2d 202, 242-44 (D. Mass. 2011). In support of that claim, Sampson submitted for the public record, records relating to a head injury that Sampso......
  • United States v. Rose, 081320 MADC, 11-cr-10062-NMG
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 1st Circuit District of Massachusetts
    • 13 Agosto 2020
    ...omitted). “As a general matter, failure to anticipate a new rule of law is not deficient performance.” U.S. v. Sampson, 820 F.Supp.2d 202, 223 (D. Mass. 2011) (citation 2. Prejudice To establish prejudice, a defendant must demonstrate “a reasonable probabi......
  • 860 F.Supp.2d 663 (N.D.Iowa 2012), C 09-3064-MWB, Johnson v. United States
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 8th Circuit
    • 22 Marzo 2012
    ...question was simply whether his evidence was sufficient to avoid dismissal or to raise a triable issue. See United States v. Sampson, 820 F.Supp.2d 202, 246-47 (D.Mass.2011) (finding that an affidavit by Dr. Woods opining that the petitioner was incompetent at the time of trial was " f......
  • United States v. Hoti, 120420 NYSDC, 15 CR 651-LTS
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 2nd Circuit Southern District of New York
    • 4 Diciembre 2020
    ...678, 685 n.3 (2d Cir. 1997) (collecting cases upholding section 2119 as constitutional). Accord United States v. Sampson, 820 F.Supp.2d 202, 240 (D. Mass. 2011) (collecting decisions from “circuit courts of appeal which have upheld the constitutionality of § 2119”).......
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27 cases
  • 82 F.Supp.3d 502 (D.Mass. 2014), Cr. 01-10384-MLW, United States v. Sampson
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 1st Circuit District of Massachusetts
    • 8 Noviembre 2014
    ...because they failed to adequately investigate and present evidence concerning Sampson's mental condition. See United States v. Sampson, 820 F.Supp.2d 202, 242-44 (D. Mass. 2011). In support of that claim, Sampson submitted for the public record, records relating to a head injury that Sampso......
  • United States v. Rose, 081320 MADC, 11-cr-10062-NMG
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 1st Circuit District of Massachusetts
    • 13 Agosto 2020
    ...omitted). “As a general matter, failure to anticipate a new rule of law is not deficient performance.” U.S. v. Sampson, 820 F.Supp.2d 202, 223 (D. Mass. 2011) (citation 2. Prejudice To establish prejudice, a defendant must demonstrate “a reasonable probabi......
  • 860 F.Supp.2d 663 (N.D.Iowa 2012), C 09-3064-MWB, Johnson v. United States
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 8th Circuit
    • 22 Marzo 2012
    ...question was simply whether his evidence was sufficient to avoid dismissal or to raise a triable issue. See United States v. Sampson, 820 F.Supp.2d 202, 246-47 (D.Mass.2011) (finding that an affidavit by Dr. Woods opining that the petitioner was incompetent at the time of trial was " f......
  • United States v. Hoti, 120420 NYSDC, 15 CR 651-LTS
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 2nd Circuit Southern District of New York
    • 4 Diciembre 2020
    ...678, 685 n.3 (2d Cir. 1997) (collecting cases upholding section 2119 as constitutional). Accord United States v. Sampson, 820 F.Supp.2d 202, 240 (D. Mass. 2011) (collecting decisions from “circuit courts of appeal which have upheld the constitutionality of § 2119”).......
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