U.S. v. Lemaster, No. 04-6448.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtWilliams
Citation403 F.3d 216
PartiesUNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Edgar Sterling LEMASTER, Defendant-Appellant.
Decision Date11 April 2005
Docket NumberNo. 04-6448.
403 F.3d 216
UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Edgar Sterling LEMASTER, Defendant-Appellant.
No. 04-6448.
United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit.
Argued: February 1, 2005.
Decided: April 11, 2005.

Page 217

ARGUED: Rick Bettan, Third Year Law Student, University of Virginia School of Law, Appellate Litigation Clinic, Charlottesville, Virginia, for Appellant. Steven Randall Ramseyer, Assistant United States Attorney, Office of the United States Attorney, Abingdon, Virginia, for Appellee. ON BRIEF: Neal Walters, University of Virginia School of Law, Appellate Litigation Clinic, Charlottesville, Virginia, for Appellant. John L. Brownlee, United States Attorney, Abingdon, Virginia, for Appellee.

Before WILKINSON, WILLIAMS, and TRAXLER, Circuit Judges.

Affirmed by published opinion. Judge WILLIAMS wrote the opinion, in which Judge WILKINSON and Judge TRAXLER joined.

OPINION

WILLIAMS, Circuit Judge:


Edgar Sterling Lemaster pleaded guilty to mail fraud under 18 U.S.C.A. § 1341 (West 2000) and was sentenced to 60 months' imprisonment. In his written plea agreement, Lemaster waived his right to attack his conviction and sentence collaterally. Nonetheless, Lemaster filed a motion under 28 U.S.C.A. § 2255 (West Supp.2004) alleging that his counsel was constitutionally ineffective. The district court summarily concluded that Lemaster had knowingly and voluntarily waived his collateral-attack rights and dismissed Lemaster's motion. Lemaster now appeals, contending that his waiver was unknowing and involuntary or, in the alternative, that the district court should have held an evidentiary hearing on his motion. Because the allegations in Lemaster's motion tending to show that his plea agreement and waiver were unknowing and involuntary directly contradict his sworn statements during his Rule 11 colloquy and sentencing hearing, we affirm.

I.

Lemaster designed and perpetrated a relatively straightforward scheme to defraud coal and mining companies. Lemaster would contact the companies and solicit money for advertising space in a publication called the Mine Safety Health Publication Calendar. If the companies were interested, Lemaster would instruct them to mail a check to a private mailbox company as payment for the advertising. At Lemaster's instruction, the mailbox company would cash the checks and forward the

Page 218

proceeds to him. Lemaster received funds from a large number of companies, but he produced few, if any, calendars.

After his fraud was discovered, Lemaster was indicted and pleaded guilty to mail fraud. Lemaster was sixty-six at the time of his arrest and holds a college degree. The written plea agreement contained, among other provisions, a waiver of Lemaster's rights to appeal and to attack his conviction and sentence collaterally. The waiver read as follows:

WAIVER OF RIGHT TO APPEAL AND WAIVER OF RIGHT TO COLLATERALLY ATTACK

I hereby waive my right of appeal as to any and all issues in this case, and consent to the final disposition of this matter by the United States District Court. In addition, I waive any right I may have to collaterally attack, in any future proceeding, my conviction and/or sentence imposed in this case.

(J.A. 48.) The transcript of Lemaster's Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11 proceedings contains the following exchanges between Lemaster, the prosecutor and the district court regarding Lemaster's understanding of the plea agreement:

[Prosecutor]: Do you understand by signing this plea agreement you are agreeing that you are waiving any right you have to appeal?

The Defendant: Yes.

[Prosecutor]: And as to a collateral attack, you understand the same thing applies, that in the absence of the plea agreement you would have a right to file a collateral attack?

The Defendant: Yes.

[Prosecutor]: And do you understand by signing this plea agreement you're agreeing to waive that right?

The Defendant: Yeah.

....

The Court: All right. The plea agreement provides that you, you agree not to appeal this case or to collaterally attack the case.... [Y]ou have no right of appeal generally. And you have no right to collaterally attack the matter. You understand all that?

The Defendant: Yes, sir.

(J.A. 70-76.) The court also sought to ascertain the voluntariness of Lemaster's plea:

The Court: As far as you know the meaning of the word voluntary, what it means to you, do you consider that you're voluntarily entering into this plea of guilty?

The Defendant: Yes, sir.

...

The Court: Have there been any threats or force applied to you in any way to compel you to plead guilty?

The Defendant: No, sir.

(J.A. at 72-73.)

To further ensure the voluntariness of Lemaster's guilty plea, the court and the prosecutor questioned Lemaster on his satisfaction with his attorney in the following manner:

[Prosecutor]: You're indicating in the plea agreement that you discussed the terms of the plea agreement and all matters pertaining to the charges against you with your attorney, and you're satisfied with your attorney and your attorney's advice; is that correct?

The Defendant: Yes.

[Prosecutor]: You're indicating you have made known to the court at any time any dissatisfaction you may have with your attorney's representation?

The Defendant: Yes.

[Prosecutor]: You agree that you'll let the court know no later than at the time of sentencing any dissatisfaction or complaints

Page 219

you have with your attorney's representation?

The Defendant: Yes.

[Prosecutor]: Mr. Lemaster, do you have any complaints with your attorney's representation at this time?

The Defendant: No.

...

[Prosecutor]: You're indicating in the plea agreement you've discussed the terms of the plea agreement with your attorney, you're satisfied with your attorney and his advice of counsel, and being aware of all the possible consequences of your plea, you've independently decided to enter this plea of your own free will, and you're affirming that agreement by your signature below, is that correct?

The Defendant: That's true.

...

The Court: You're satisfied with your attorney up to this point in time?

The Defendant: Yes, sir.

(J.A. 66-73.) Lemaster agreed that he understood that he would "be sentenced to imprisonment for a term of 60 months." (J.A. at 63.)

The district court accepted Lemaster's plea, sentenced Lemaster to 60 months' imprisonment and three years of supervised release, and ordered Lemaster to pay $160,646.02 in restitution. Lemaster did not directly appeal his conviction and sentence. Instead, Lemaster timely filed a pro se § 2255 motion arguing that his attorney was ineffective. Liberally construed, Lemaster's petition alleged, inter alia, that his guilty plea, and thus his waiver of collateral-attack rights, was unknowing and involuntary because (1) his counsel's initial explanation of the proposed plea agreement differed substantially from the final version of the plea agreement and that his counsel failed to explain the changes to him; (2) his counsel failed to inform him, or misinformed him, of the potential punishment that he faced under the plea agreement; and (3) Lemaster was threatened that he would be denied adequate medical care unless he pleaded guilty. (J.A. at 6-8.) Lemaster's petition also contained several other claims of constitutional error, none of which relate to the voluntariness of his plea agreement or waiver of collateral-attack rights.1

Without holding an evidentiary hearing, the district court dismissed Lemaster's motion, concluding that Lemaster had knowingly and voluntarily waived his right to file a § 2255 motion. Lemaster now appeals. We granted Lemaster a certificate of appealability, and we have jurisdiction to review the district court's final order on a § 2255 motion under 28 U.S.C.A. § 2253 (West Supp.2004).

II.

"[T]he guilty plea and the often concomitant plea bargain are important components of this country's criminal justice system. Properly administered, they can benefit all concerned." Blackledge v. Allison, 431 U.S. 63, 71, 97 S.Ct. 1621, 52 L.Ed.2d 136 (1977). The advantages of

Page 220

plea bargains "can be secured, however, only if dispositions by guilty plea are accorded a great measure of finality." Id. To...

To continue reading

Request your trial
1722 practice notes
  • Tre's Davis v. United States, Civil Action No. 2:14-12570
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Southern District of West Virginia
    • August 30, 2016
    ...dismiss any § 2255 motion that necessarily relies on allegations that contradict the sworn statements." United States v. Lemaster, 403 F.3d 216, 221 - 222 (4th Cir. 2005). Movant has failed to show extraordinary circumstances. Furthermore, Movant verified during the Plea Hearing that he was......
  • In re Amos, No. 48430-7-II
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • December 12, 2017
    ...is that a defendant can waive his right to collateral attack, so long as it is done knowingly and voluntarily. United States v. Lemaster, 403 F.3d 216, 220 (4th Cir. 2005) (collecting other federal circuits);4 Spoone v. State, 379 S.C. 138, 142-44, 665 S.E.2d 605 (2008) (collecting other st......
  • United States v. Whisonant, Criminal No. ELH-17-191
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • March 3, 2020
    ...chief virtues of the plea system—speed, economy, and finality.'" White, 366 F.3d at 296 (citation omitted). In United States v. Lemaster, 403 F.3d 216, 222 (4th Cir. 2005), the Fourth Circuit stated that, "in the absence of extraordinary circumstances, the truth of sworn statements made dur......
  • Jones v. Commonwealth, Record No. 131385
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • February 2, 2017
    ...v. Bascomb, 451 F.3d 1292, 1294 (11th Cir. 2006); United States v. Blick, 408 F.3d 162, 168 (4th Cir. 2005); United States v. Lemaster, 403 F.3d 216, 219-20 (4th Cir. 2005); United States v. Andis, 333 F.3d 886, 889 (8th Cir. 2003) (en banc). 15. See also Hudson v. Commonwealth, 267 Va. 29,......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1722 cases
  • Tre's Davis v. United States, Civil Action No. 2:14-12570
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Southern District of West Virginia
    • August 30, 2016
    ...dismiss any § 2255 motion that necessarily relies on allegations that contradict the sworn statements." United States v. Lemaster, 403 F.3d 216, 221 - 222 (4th Cir. 2005). Movant has failed to show extraordinary circumstances. Furthermore, Movant verified during the Plea Hearing that he was......
  • In re Amos, No. 48430-7-II
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • December 12, 2017
    ...is that a defendant can waive his right to collateral attack, so long as it is done knowingly and voluntarily. United States v. Lemaster, 403 F.3d 216, 220 (4th Cir. 2005) (collecting other federal circuits);4 Spoone v. State, 379 S.C. 138, 142-44, 665 S.E.2d 605 (2008) (collecting other st......
  • United States v. Whisonant, Criminal No. ELH-17-191
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • March 3, 2020
    ...chief virtues of the plea system—speed, economy, and finality.'" White, 366 F.3d at 296 (citation omitted). In United States v. Lemaster, 403 F.3d 216, 222 (4th Cir. 2005), the Fourth Circuit stated that, "in the absence of extraordinary circumstances, the truth of sworn statements made dur......
  • Jones v. Commonwealth, Record No. 131385
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • February 2, 2017
    ...v. Bascomb, 451 F.3d 1292, 1294 (11th Cir. 2006); United States v. Blick, 408 F.3d 162, 168 (4th Cir. 2005); United States v. Lemaster, 403 F.3d 216, 219-20 (4th Cir. 2005); United States v. Andis, 333 F.3d 886, 889 (8th Cir. 2003) (en banc). 15. See also Hudson v. Commonwealth, 267 Va. 29,......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT