United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division
HORNSBY MAGISTRATE JUDGE
ELIZABETH ERNY FOOTE JUDGE
the Court is a 28 U.S.C. § 2255 motion to vacate filed
by Defendant Andrea Lewis ("Lewis"). [Record
Document 94]. Lewis accuses his trial and appellate counsel
of providing ineffective assistance by underemphasi2ing the
intent element of his offense. [Record Document 94-1 at
3-10]. Because Lewis has not demonstrated that he received
constitutionally deficient representation, the motion to
vacate [Record Document 94] is DENIED.
Lewis, a pastor and director of a church choir in Shreveport,
Louisiana, was convicted of violating 18 U.S.C. §
2423(a), which criminalizes transporting a minor across state
lines with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.
[Record Document 69 at 1]. As summarized by the Fifth
He had sexual relationships with the three named victims, all
of whom were underage members of his choir group during the
mid- to late-1990s. He had sex with each of the three girls
for the first time when they were approximately fourteen
years old, which is below the age of consent under federal,
Louisiana, and Texas law. He did not use physical force
against the girls to have sex with them, however. He had
intercourse and oral sex with them many times while they were
underage, and he continued his sexual relationship with two
of the girls into their twenties.
United States v. Lewis, 796 F.3d 543, 544 (5th Cir.
2015). Lewis would take the girls with him when he went to
Texas on choir-related business. Id. Despite the
stated purpose for the trips, the Government contended that
the opportunity to have sex also motivated the interstate
travel. Id. Lewis's defense was that he never
had sex with the women while they were underage. Id.
trial, this Court admitted evidence about two additional
girls whom Lewis had sexually assaulted. [Record Document 86
at 14]. On appeal, Lewis raised as error only this
evidentiary ruling. Lewis, 796 F.3d at 545. The
Fifth Circuit affirmed, finding that this Court did not abuse
its discretion under Rule 403 when balancing the probative
value of the similar-crimes evidence against the danger of
unfair prejudice. Id. at 548. Lewis did not file a
petition for a writ of certiorari.
motion, Lewis argues that his trial and appellate counsel
were ineffective because they failed in various ways to
emphasize that the Government had not carried its burden to
prove his intent. [Record Document 94 at 4-6]. Lewis contends
that a conviction under 18 U.S.C. § 2423(a) requires the
Government to "prove that Lewis's 'dominant
motive5 for the travel with the minors to Texas was to engage
in sexual activity." [Record Document 94-1 at 6]. On the
basis of this contention, he raises four
ineffective-assistance claims: (1) his appellate counsel
failed to challenge the sufficiency of the evidence of his
motive; (2) his trial counsel failed to raise the issue of
motive as a defense at trial; (3) his trial counsel did not
argue for a Rule 29 judgment of acquittal on the basis of
motive; (4) his trial counsel failed to object to the absence
of a "dominant motive" requirement in the jury
charge. [Id. at 3-10].
Standard for Granting a § 2255 Motion
federal prisoner may test the legality of his detention by
"mov[ing] the court which imposed the sentence to
vacate, set aside or correct the sentence." 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255(a); see United States v. Grammas, 376
F.3d 433, 436 (5th Cir. 2004) (quoting Kuhn v. United
States, 432 F.2d 82, 83 (5th Cir. 1970)). Where there
has been such a "denial or infringement of the
constitutional rights of the prisoner as to render the
judgment vulnerable to collateral attack, the court shall
vacate and set the judgment aside and shall discharge the
prisoner or resentence him or grant a new trial or correct
the sentence as may appear appropriate." 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255(b). Relief under § 2255 is "reserved
for transgressions of constitutional rights and for a narrow
range of injuries that could not have been raised on direct
appeal and would, if condoned, result in a complete
miscarriage of justice." Kinder v. Purdy, 222
F.3d 209, 213 (5th Cir. 2000) (quoting United States v.
Vaughn, 955 F.2d 367, 368 (5th Cir. 1992)). A district
court may deny a § 2255 motion without conducting any
type of evidentiary hearing if the defendant fails to
"present 'independent indicia of the likely merits
of [his] allegations.'" United States v.
Reed, 719 F.3d 369, 373 (5th Cir. 2013) (quoting
United States v. Cavitt, 550 F.3d 430, 442 (5th Cir.
2008)). A hearing is also unnecessary if the issues were
raised on direct appeal or do not describe a constitutional
violation. United States v. McCollom, 664 F.2d 56,
59 (5th Cir. 1981) (citing Buckelew v. United
States, 575 F.2d 515 (5th Cir. 1978)).
Law and Analysis
certain exceptions not relevant here, a § 2255 motion
must be made within one year of the date on which the
movant's conviction became final. 28 U.S.C. §
2255(f). Following an unsuccessful appeal after which the
defendant does not seek a writ of certiorari, a conviction
becomes final when the time expires for petitioning for the
writ. Clay v. United States, 537 U.S. 522, 525
(2003). A petition for a writ of certiorari must be filed
within ninety days of the entry of judgment. Id.
(citing Supreme Court Rule 13(1)). The Fifth Circuit denied
Lewis's appeal on August 10, 2015. Lewis, 796
F.3d at 543. Thus, his time to petition for certiorari
expired on November 8, 2015. Because he filed his § 2255
motion on November 7, 2016, [Record Document 94], his motion
Intent Requirement in 18 U.S.C. §
passed the Mann Act to criminalize transporting individuals
across state lines for the "purpose of prostitution or
debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose."
White-Slave Traffic (Mann) Act, ch. 395, 36 Stat. 825 (1910)
(codified as amended at 18 U.S.C. §§ 2421-2424). 18
U.S.C. § 2423(a) extends the Mann Act to provide:
A person who knowingly transports an individual who has not
attained the age of 18 years in interstate or foreign
commerce, or in any commonwealth, territory or possession of
the United States, with intent that the individual engage in
prostitution, or in any sexual activity for which any person
can be charged with a criminal offense, shall be fined under
this title and imprisoned not less than 10 years or for life.
18 U.S.C. § 2423(a). One of the essential elements of a
Mann Act violation is that the "interstate
transportation have for its object or be the means of
effecting or facilitating the proscribed activities."
Mortensen v. United States, 322 U.S. 369, 374 (1944)
(citing Hansen v. Haff, 291 U.S. 559, 563 (1934)).
Mortensen v. United States, the Supreme Court
described the mens rea of a Mann Act offense as a
requirement that the "dominant motive" for the
interstate movement be illicit sexual conduct. Id.
The Mortensens operated a brothel and went on a vacation,
taking two of the sex workers with them. Id. at 372.
Because no sex work occurred during the trip, the Supreme
Court concluded that illicit sexual activity played no part
in the interstate transportation; rather, "[t]he sole
purpose of the journey from beginning to end was to provide
innocent recreation and a holiday for petitioners and the two
girls." Id. at 375. Because weighing the
relative importance of multiple motives for travel was not
essential to the Mortensen Court's holding, the
Seventh Circuit has characterized the "dominant
motive" language as dicta. United States v.
McGuire,627 F.3d 622, 625 (7th Cir. 2010); cf.
United States v. Hoschouer,224 Fed.Appx. 923, 926 (11th
Cir. 2007) (per curiam) (citing United States v.
Cole,262 F.3d 704, 709 (8th Cir. 2001); United
States v. Ellis,935 F.2d 385, 391-92 (1st Cir. 1991))
("But, the ...