United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
PATTI B. SARIS CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
petitioner Byron Jones moves under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to
challenge his conviction for drug trafficking on grounds of
ineffective assistance of counsel. After a review of the
record, the Court DENIES the motion
(Dkt. No. 214).
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
January 2012, Jones was indicted on drug trafficking charges
involving cocaine and cocaine base. The amount of cocaine
base triggered a ten-year mandatory minimum under 21 U.S.C.
§ 841(b)(1)(A). The government also filed an information
notifying Jones of its intent to seek an enhanced mandatory
penalty based on a prior felony drug conviction pursuant to
21 U.S.C. § 851.
initial appearance, the magistrate judge appointed Michael
Natola as counsel for Jones. Fifteen days later, Jones moved
to replace Natola for failing to speak to his family to
gather relevant information before his bond hearing. After a
hearing, the judge relieved Natola and appointed Edward Lee
as new counsel. In August 2012, Jones again moved for new
counsel, this time because Lee was not communicating with
him. After another hearing, a third attorney, Daniel
Cloherty, was appointed in September. Throughout this period,
the magistrate judge excluded time under the Speedy Trial Act
to permit the parties to exchange discovery and to hear
Jones's two motions for new counsel.
March 15, 2013, Cloherty filed a motion to withdraw, citing
an irreparable breakdown of his relationship with Jones. The
Court held an ex parte hearing and found no irreparable
breakdown. The Court informed Jones that he had to choose
between proceeding with Cloherty and proceeding pro se with
Cloherty as standby counsel. Although Jones indicated an
intention to proceed pro se, he refused to participate in the
waiver of counsel colloquy. At another ex parte hearing on
April 3, 2013, the Court learned that Jones and
Cloherty's disagreement involved a motion to suppress and
a motion for reconsideration of detention. After the second
ex parte hearing, Jones elected to proceed pro se on these
motions with Cloherty as standby counsel. During the waiver
colloquy, Jones indicated that he knowingly and voluntarily
decided to proceed pro se. He also signed a waiver of counsel
April 22, 2013, Jones filed a pro se motion to suppress.
Cloherty acted as standby counsel at the evidentiary hearing.
The Court denied the motion to suppress and a motion for
reconsideration. Raising Speedy Trial Act concerns, Jones
also filed a pro se motion to reconsider the Court's
order continuing his detention.
the denial of his motion to suppress, Jones, represented by
Cloherty, agreed to plead guilty to all five counts in
exchange for a withdrawal of the § 851 petition. His
plea agreement contained a waiver of his right to challenge
his conviction or a sentence of 188 months or less on direct
appeal or collaterally. During the plea colloquy, the Court
had the following exchange with Jones:
THE COURT: Have you been satisfied with the representation of
THE COURT: And I know that there have been certain points
where you've decided to go pro se, but since we are now
at the plea colloquy stage, are you satisfied with his
representation of you throughout the plea colloquy and
leading up to this plea agreement?
THE COURT: All right. Are you in any way feeling pressured
into pleading guilty? Has anyone made threats against you?
THE COURT: Anyone that - do you feel as if your lawyer's
pressuring you and you really want to go to trial?
Dkt. No. 171 at 9. The Court also reviewed the appellate
waiver. The Court accepted Jones's guilty plea and
sentenced him to a term of imprisonment of 135
appeal, Jones, represented by a fourth attorney, argued that
his guilty plea was not knowing and voluntary and raised two
challenges to the Court's guideline calculations. See
United States v. Jones, 778 F.3d 375, 381-86 (1st Cir.
2015). Jones also filed a pro se brief arguing that the Court
should have allowed Cloherty's motion to withdraw as
counsel and that his waiver of the right to counsel was
invalid. See id. at 386-89. The First Circuit
rejected all of these arguments and affirmed his conviction
and sentence. See id. at 390.
20, 2016, Jones moved to vacate his sentence pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2255. Jones argues that his guilty plea was not
knowing and voluntary because Cloherty rendered ineffective
assistance of counsel in four ways: 1) incorrectly telling
him that he could not argue at trial that he had no
connection to the apartment where the drugs were found since
he testified to the contrary at the suppression hearing; 2)
operating under a conflict of interest that caused Cloherty
to fail to file motions to reconsider the Court's orders
denying the motion to suppress and to withdraw the guilty
plea; 3) failing to move to suppress or move to reconsider
the Court's denial of his motion to suppress on the basis
that the officers executing the search did not leave him a
complete copy of the search warrant in violation of Federal
Rule of Criminal Procedure 41(f)(1)(C); and 4) failing to
advise him of his rights under the Speedy Trial Act and to
move to dismiss on this basis.