United States v. Wilson

Decision Date07 October 2019
Docket NumberCriminal No. 96-319-01 (CKK),Civil Action No. 12-852
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Columbia

Presently before the Court is Defendant Louis A. Wilson's [328] Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, and his [351] Motion to Amend and/or Supplement [his § 2255 Motion] pursuant to Fed. R. Civil P. [ ] 15(a) and (c).1 Defendant Louis A. Wilson ("Defendant" or "Mr. Wilson"), who is proceeding pro se, alleges that he received ineffective assistance of counsel from both his trial counsel and appellate counsel when they failed to challenge: (1) the trial court's violation of the Defendant's right to counsel of choice in violation of the Sixth Amendment; (2) Defendant's convictions and sentences on two murder counts that arose from the murder of one individual on Double Jeopardy grounds; (3) the suppression of information in violation of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), pertaining to a murder other than the murder for which Defendant was convicted; (4) the allegedly unauthorized presence of Assistant United States Attorney Robert Mueller before the grand jury; and (5) jurisdiction of the trial court to try his case. Defendant alleges further that he is "actually innocent." Defendant requests that the Court reconsider and reduce his sentence, and he requests an evidentiary hearingto resolve the issues raised in his motions. The United States of America (the "Government") has filed its oppositions to the Defendant's Motion to Vacate and Defendant's Motion to Amend and/or Supplement, and the Defendant has filed replies to both motions, which are ripe for this Court's review. Upon a searching review of the parties' submissions,2 the relevant authorities, and the record in this case, the Court finds that Defendant is not entitled to the requested relief. Accordingly, the Court shall GRANT Defendant's [351] Motion to Amend and/or Supplement his Motion to Vacate and DENY his [328] Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence. A separate Order accompanies this Memorandum Opinion.

A. Factual Background3

Defendant's [328] Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence ("Def.'s Mot. to Vacate") arises out of a case involving the murder of a Government witness scheduled to testify in the trial of James "Toe" Wilson, who was charged with robbing a United States Post Office. The Government's case against James Wilson was based primarily on information obtained by a witness, decedent Leroy Copeland, who had taped a conversation with James Wilson at the Lorton Reformatory ("the Lorton conversation") on July 28, 1995. The Government turned over copies of the tape and transcript of the Lorton conversation, which revealed Leroy Copeland's identity,to James Wilson's attorney, Steven Jacoby. This was done on the condition that Attorney Jacoby would not share copies of the tape and transcript with anyone without the Government's prior permission. On March 20, 1996—shortly before the March 26, 1996 trial date—James Wilson's attorney met with James's wife and brother, Ralph Wilson, to discuss evidence against James. During the meeting, Attorney Jacoby alerted the family members to Leroy Copeland's role in the case against James Wilson by playing portions of the Lorton conversation between Leroy Copeland and James Wilson. On the evening of March 25, 1996, Leroy Copeland was shot and killed at 5th and O Streets, N.W., in Washington, D.C.

B. Procedural History

On March 21, 1997, after a jury trial before the Honorable Norma Holloway Johnson, Defendant Louis A. Wilson ("Defendant"), brother of James Wilson, and codefendants Ralph Wilson and Marcellus Judd were convicted of conspiracy to kill a witness (18 U.S.C. § 371) (Count One), killing a witness (18 U.S.C. § 1512(a)(1)(A)) (Count Two), retaliating against a witness (18 U.S.C. § 1513(a)(1)(B) & (2)) (Count Four), first-degree murder while armed (D.C. Code §§ 22-2401, 3202) (Count Six), two counts of using a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence (18 U.S.C. § 924(c)) (Counts Three and Five), and possession of a firearm during a crime of violence (D.C. Code § 22-3204(b)) (Count Seven). Jury Verdict, ECF No. [146]. On September 10, 1997, Defendant was sentenced to life imprisonment plus two consecutive five-year terms ofincarceration.4 After a timely notice of appeal was filed,5 new counsel was appointed to represent Defendant on appeal. Govt.'s Opp'n, to Def.'s Mot. to Vacate, ECF No. 332, at 2-3.

On November 20, 1998, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed most but not all of Defendant's convictions. The court found that Defendant's conduct did not support two convictions for use of a firearm. Govt.'s Opp'n, ECF No. 332, at 3. Accordingly, the Court of Appeals vacated one of Defendant's two § 924(c) convictions for use of a firearm. See United States v. Wilson, 160 F.3d 732, 750 (D.C. Cir. 1998), cert. denied, 528 U.S. 828 (1999).6

On September 29, 2000, Defendant filed a [230] Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, followed by two supplements to the motion, which were filed on March 1, 2001 and January 20, 2004. On January 20, 2004, Defendant also moved to adopt the post-trial arguments filed by co-defendant Ralph Wilson. Def.'s Mot. for Miscellaneous Relief, ECF No. 260.

On September 14, 2005, this Court entered an order,7 following a memorandum opinion two days prior,8 denying Defendant's [230] 28 U.S.C. § 2255 motion, which alleged that: (1) his conviction was based on perjured testimony; (2) the Government did not disclose exculpatory information that was in its possession prior to trial, in violation of its Brady obligations; (3) Defendant's confrontation rights were violated at trial (a confrontation claim adopted from co-defendant Ralph Wilson); and (4) Defendant received ineffective assistance of counsel at trial in violation of the fundamental guarantees of the Sixth Amendment.9 In making a determination that Defendant's Fifth Amendment perjured testimony, Brady, and Confrontation Clause claims were procedurally barred, this Court applied the principle that "a prisoner may not raise an objection in a Section 2255 motion that could have been contested on direct appeal unless he can first demonstrate cause for the procedural default and then establish resulting prejudice." September 12, 2005 Memorandum Opinion, ECF No. 281, at 6. The Court made further alternative findings as to the Defendant's Brady and Confrontation Clause claims. The Court analyzed the Defendant's claims based on ineffective assistance of counsel under the standard set forth in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984).

On October 18, 2005, Defendant filed an appeal of this Court's denial of his Section 2255 motion. Def.'s Notice of Appeal, ECF No. 285. On May 3, 2007, the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit affirmed the summary denial of Defendant's [230] 28 U.S.C. § 2255motion. United States v. Wilson, 219 F. App'x. 5 (D.C. Cir. 2007).

On July 22, 2010, Defendant filed a [296] Motion for Entry of an Amended Judgment in a Criminal Case to reflect the D.C. Circuit's reversal of his conviction on the charge of using a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). On November 23, 2010, pursuant to the decision issued by the Court of Appeals on November 20, 1998, directing that one of Defendant's 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) convictions be vacated pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3742(f)(1) and (2), this Court vacated the judgment and sentence previously imposed regarding Count Five, and entered an Amended Judgment and Commitment Order nunc pro tunc to effectuate a recomputation of Defendant's sentence by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Am. Judgment, ECF No. 308. On December 28, 2010, Defendant noted an appeal from the order of this Court granting his Amended Judgment. Def.'s Notice of Appeal, ECF No. 311. Defendant's appeal was ultimately dismissed by the D.C. Circuit as untimely filed. See United States v. Wilson, 463 F. App'x 1 (D.C. Cir. 2012).

Defendant filed a [310] Motion to Correct/Amend an Illegal Sentence10 on December 27, 2010, which the Government opposed on January 20, 2011.11 On April 14, 2011, after explaining that the relief sought did not fall under the scope of Rule 35(a), this Court ordered that Defendant inform the Court whether he wished to withdraw his motion or have the Court recharacterize the motion as having been filed under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Order, ECF No. 319. On May 26, 2011, Defendant moved to withdraw his Motion to Correct an Illegal Sentence, which the Court granted on May 31, 2011. Def.'s Mot. to Correct/Am., ECF No. 321.

C. Present Motions to Vacate Sentence Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 and to Amend and/or Supplement Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a) and (c)

On May 21, 2012, pro se Defendant filed this [328] second-filed Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Defendant did not seek a certificate to file this [328] second-filed § 2255 motion. However, because Defendant's second-filed § 2255 motion is his first § 2255 challenge to the current judgment, it does not qualify as a "second or successive" § 2255 motion under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act ("AEDPA"). See Govt.'s Opp'n, ECF No. 332, at 10 n.6 (acknowledging that the Government does not believe that Defendant's § 2255 motion qualifies as a successive § 2255 motion under Magwood v. Patterson, 561 U.S. 320, 332-33 (2010)). Accordingly, Defendant need not have sought a certificate to file his [328] second-filed § 2255 motion.

In Magwood, the Supreme Court held that a state prisoner's federal habeas petition could not be treated as "second" or "successive" under § 2244(b), a provision added through the enactment of the AEDPA, because the petition challenged an amended judgment...

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