United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lafayette Division
PATRICK J. HANNA MAG. JUDGE
A. DOUGHTY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is Defendant Carroll Griffin's
(“Griffin”) Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or
Correct Sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 [Doc. No. 505].
The motion is fully briefed, and the Court is prepared to
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
jury in Lafayette, Louisiana, indicted Griffin on various
drug trafficking charges as well as a charge related to
firearms on February 8, 2016. Griffin entered a plea of
guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess
with intent to distribute controlled substances on April 3,
2017, with retained counsel.
the guilty plea, the U.S. Probation Office prepared a
Presentence Investigation Report (“PSR”), which
included a calculation of the applicable guidelines for
Griffin's offense. This calculation included a specific
offense characteristic enhancement for possession of a
firearm and an obstruction of justice enhancement due to
Griffin's recklessly creating a substantial risk of death
or serious bodily injury to another person in the course of
fleeing from a law enforcement officer. This calculation
yielded an advisory guideline range of 70 to 87 months
incarceration. Griffin, through counsel, filed timely
objections to the PSR. At the sentencing hearing held on
September 22, 2017, the Court denied Griffin's objections
to the PSR and sentenced him to 72 months incarceration,
within the advisory guideline range, to be followed by 3
years of supervised release. Upon imposing the sentence, the
Court advised Griffin of his right to appeal. Griffin did not
file a notice of appeal.
January 22, 2018, Griffin filed the pending Motion to Vacate
under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (“2255 Motion”) [Doc.
No. 505] alleging that his defense counsel, Mr. Alfred
Boustany, II, (“Boustany”), was ineffective
because, Griffin claims, defense counsel failed to follow
Griffin's explicit instructions to appeal the sentence
alleges in his 2255 Motion that prior to the sentencing,
defense counsel assured him that if the district court failed
to grant the objections to the PSR, defense counsel would
appeal the objections. Griffin further alleges that, after
the sentencing, defense counsel asked if Griffin wanted him
to move forward with an appeal, stating that he preserved the
record. Griffin asserts that he told his counsel that he
wanted him to proceed with the appeal.
light of these allegations, the Court scheduled an
evidentiary hearing which took place in Lafayette, Louisiana,
on June 19, 2018. Griffin was not represented by counsel at
the hearing. After hearing the evidence, the Court denied
Griffin's motion, finding that Griffin did not carry his
burden of showing that his defense counsel failed to follow
specific instructions to file an appeal or otherwise acted in
a manner that was professionally unreasonable [Doc. Nos. 524
26, 2018, Griffin filed a notice of appeal to the United
States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit [Doc. No. 528].
On July 29, 2019, the Fifth Circuit vacated the Court's
ruling because Griffin was not appointed counsel for the
evidentiary hearing. The Fifth Circuit remanded the case for
a new evidentiary hearing with appointed counsel [Doc. No.
August 5, 2019, the Court issued an order scheduling a new
evidentiary hearing and appointing the Office of the Federal
Public Defender to represent Griffin at the hearing [Doc. No.
evidentiary hearing was held in Lafayette, Louisiana, on
October 30, 2019, with Griffin represented by Court-appointed