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Humphress v. United States

United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

September 23, 2004, Argued ; February 25, 2005, Decided ; February 25, 2005, Filed

File Name: 05a0094p.06

No. 03-5951


 [*857]   [***1]  ALICE M. BATCHELDER, Circuit Judge. Petitioner Jackie Humphress appeals the district court's denial of his motion, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, to vacate, set aside or amend his sentence, imposed after a jury convicted him on charges of conspiracy to murder an officer or employee of the United States on account of performance of official duties, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1117, and attempted murder of an officer or employee of the United States on account of performance of official duties, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1114 [**2]  and 2. Humphress argues that the district court erred in concluding that he was not denied the effective assistance of counsel during plea negotiations. In a supplemental brief, Humphress argues that his sentence was increased on the basis of facts found by the sentencing court, in violation of Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296, 159 L. Ed. 2d 403, 124 S. Ct. 2531 (2004). Because the Supreme Court's intervening decision in United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220, 160 L. Ed. 2d 621, 125 S. Ct. 738 (2005), which now governs Humphress's Blakely claim, does not apply retroactively to cases already final on direct review and because there is no reasonable probability that, but for his  [***2]  counsel's allegedly deficient performance, Humphress would have pled guilty, we will AFFIRM the district court's denial of the § 2255 motion.

Humphress's underlying conviction is based on an agreement to murder an FBI agent, which he entered into with his co-defendant, Ronald ***. While serving a prison sentence on a drug conviction, *** told his cellmate that he wished to have several federal officials, including an FBI agent, murdered. Unbeknownst to ***, his cellmate [**3]  informed the FBI and began assisting FBI agents in an investigation which eventually led to Humphress's indictment on charges of conspiracy to commit murder, attempted murder, aiding and abetting murder, soliciting a crime of violence, and utilizing a firearm in relation to a crime of violence.

Humphress retained Charles Ray, an experienced criminal defense attorney, to represent him. During December of 1996, Hilliard Hester, the Assistant United States Attorney assigned to Humphress's case, discussed with Ray the possibility of a plea agreement in which Humphress would plead guilty to the charge of using a firearm in relation to a crime of violence in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1) and another substantive count in exchange for the Government's recommendation of a ten-year prison sentence. Hester testified that this agreement was never reduced to writing, and Ray was unable to produce any record of the negotiations. Ray discussed the terms of the agreement with Humphress and recommended that he decline the offer. The parties dispute the extent to which Ray counseled Humphress on the sentencing guidelines and whether Ray warned Humphress of the risks associated [**4]  with going to trial, but in any event,  [*858]  Ray sent the United States Attorney's office a letter advising that Humphress was unwilling to accept the plea agreement.

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398 F.3d 855 *; 2005 U.S. App. LEXIS 3274 **; 2005 FED App. 0094P (6th Cir.) ***

JACKIE HUMPHRESS, Petitioner-Appellant, v. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent-Appellee.

Subsequent History: US Supreme Court certiorari denied by Humphress v. United States, 126 S. Ct. 199, 163 L. Ed. 2d 190, 2005 U.S. LEXIS 5948 (U.S., Oct. 3, 2005)

Prior History:  [**1]  Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee at Nashville. No. 00-00943. Todd J. Campbell, District Judge.

United States v. ***, 194 F.3d 1314, 1999 U.S. App. LEXIS 33121 (6th Cir. Tenn., 1999)

Disposition: Affirmed.


sentence, new rule, murder, sentencing guidelines, ineffective, criminal procedure, guilty plea, announced, jurists, reasonable probability, assistance of counsel, district court, Guidelines, sentencing scheme, death penalty, plea guilty, cases, violent crime, recommendation, retroactively, negotiations, argues

Criminal Law & Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, Clear Error Review, Entry of Pleas, Guilty Pleas, General Overview, De Novo Review, Postconviction Proceedings, Motions to Set Aside Sentence, Motions to Vacate Judgment, Clearly Erroneous Review, Findings of Fact, Habeas Corpus, Sentences, De Novo Review, Jurisdiction, Cognizable Issues, Constitutional Law, Fundamental Rights, Criminal Process, Assistance of Counsel, Preliminary Proceedings, Counsel, Effective Assistance of Counsel, Pleas, Tests for Ineffective Assistance of Counsel, Right to Counsel, Sentencing, Imposition of Sentence, Findings, Sentencing Guidelines, Adjustments & Enhancements, Criminal History, Factors, Statutory Maximums, Procedural Defenses, Retroactivity of Decisions, Governments, Courts, Judicial Precedent, Rule Application & Interpretation