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United States v. Jackson

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

May 2, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
MELVIN JACKSON

          ORDER AND REASONS

          MARY ANN VIAL LEMMON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Melvin Jackson's Motion brought under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct his Sentence (Rec. Doc. 136) is DENIED.

         BACKGROUND

         The underlying facts of this matter, as set forth by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, are as follows:

[Defendant] Jackson's indictment and ultimate conviction arose from two separate incidents. The first was an alleged shooting that occurred in May of 2012 outside of Roy's Lounge, a dice hall. According to the Government, a dispute began between Jackson and an unidentified victim over dice game winnings. After leaving the dice hall, Jackson evidently pulled a gun from his waistband and handed it to Marvin Dokes (“Dokes”). Dokes then reportedly shot the victim four times in the torso, and Jackson robbed the victim as he lay on the ground. The victim received treatment at a hospital but was uncooperative when questioned. Police have not located the victim since he left the hospital - it is now believed that he used an assumed identity. Video surveillance captured this incident, although the shooting took place off screen. Jackson, a prior felon, was arrested and charged with attempted murder in Louisiana, but he was released on bail in August of 2012. As a result of this event, a federal grand jury indicted Jackson on the charge of felon in possession of a firearm (Count 2).
The second incident involved a Drug Enforcement Agency (“DEA”) task force sting that targeted Jackson in August of 2013. After a confidential informant purchased heroin from Jackson, DEA agents raided his trailer and recovered approximately twenty-seven grams of heroin. Once arrested, Jackson, without counsel present, spoke extensively with officers about his distribution of heroin. This operation led to Jackson's indictments for conspiracy to distribute more than one kilogram of heroin (Count 1) and possession with intent to distribute heroin (Count 3). The timeline provided by the Government indicates that the conspiracy started sometime prior to January of 2012 and continued through August of 2013, when Jackson was arrested.

United States v. Jackson, 662 Fed. App'x. 310 (5th Cir. 2016). In speaking with drug agents in August 2013 (more than one year after the May 2012 shooting) Jackson confessed on audiotape that he was not the shooter outside the Lounge, but that he handed a gun to someone else to shoot the victim.

         On August 29, 2013, the Grand Jury in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana returned a three-count Indictment against Jackson charging him with conspiracy to distribute greater than one kilogram of heroin (Count 1), in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(A)(2); felon in possession of a firearm (Count 2), in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1), 924(a)(2); and possession with intent to distribute heroin (Count 3), in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(C). On April 28, 2015, a jury found him guilty on all three counts.

         The following evidence relevant to the instant motion was adduced at trial. On direct examination by the government, Detective Stephen Jenkins, lead investigator for the shooting, testified that the video footage showed Jackson exiting the Lounge and setting a beer bottle on the steps; the shooting victim exiting the Lounge, walking behind Jackson; Jackson handing a gun to Marvin Dokes; several shots being fired and the victim falling to the ground; and Jackson digging through the shooting victim's pockets, stealing about $1, 000 from the victim, and walking away. The Fifth Circuit concluded that Jackson's “possession of the firearm occurred almost contemporaneously with the shooting and [Jackson's subsequent] robbery” of the victim; and "the item Jackson handed Dokes was in fact a firearm.” Jackson, 662 Fed. App'x. at 317-18.

         On November 11, 2015, the court sentenced Jackson to 360 months incarceration as to Count 1, 120 months incarceration as to Count 2, and 240 months incarceration as to Count 3, all to be served concurrently. Jackson's term of imprisonment was to be followed by a 5-year term of supervised release as to Count 1, and a 3-year term of supervised release as to Counts 2 and 3. Jackson appealed his conviction and sentence to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. On December 8, 2016, the appellate court denied the majority of Jackson's claims, but remanded the case for re-sentencing on one issue pertaining to a sentencing enhancement. On March 16, 2017, this court re-considered the sentencing enhancement and re-imposed the original sentence. Defendant appealed the sentence to the Fifth Circuit, which affirmed the sentence. The Supreme Court denied certiorari on May 19, 2018.

         On May 11, 2018, Jackson filed a motion for a new trial as to Count 1 arguing that he had discovered evidence that a government witness lied at his trial. The court denied that motion as untimely on June 21, 2018.

         On February 25, 2019, defendant filed the instant petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct his Sentence, based on two grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel.

         APPLICABLE LAW

         Pursuant to § 2255, a prisoner in custody under a federal court sentence may seek relief on four grounds: (1) “that the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States”; (2) “that the court was without jurisdiction to impose such sentence”; (3) “that the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law”; or, (4) that the sentence “is otherwise subject to collateral attack.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255. If the district court determines that a petitioner is entitled to relief under § 2255, the court “shall vacate and set the ...


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