United States District Court, D. Maine
RECOMMENDED DECISION ON 28 U.S.C. § 2255
C. NIVISON U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
action, Petitioner Syriane Baldwin moves, pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2255, to vacate, set aside or correct his
sentence. (Motion, ECF No. 267.) Following a guilty plea,
Petitioner was convicted of conspiracy to distribute
controlled substances; the Court sentenced Petitioner to
ninety-six months in prison. (Judgment, ECF No. 257;
Indictment, ECF No. 2.) Petitioner did not appeal from the
claims he received ineffective assistance of counsel and
argues that his conviction and sentence were unconstitutional
because he had previously been convicted of and served a
sentence on a related drug distribution charge. (Motion at 4
- 8.) The Government requests dismissal because, although
some conduct was related, the two convictions resulted from
prosecutions for separate crimes. (Response, ECF No. 271.)
a review of the record and after consideration of
Petitioner's motion and the Government's request for
dismissal, I recommend the Court grant the Government's
request and dismiss Petitioner's motion.
Background and Procedural History
September 2015, Petitioner was arrested and indicted for
distributing cocaine base in or around September 2014.
(1:15-cr-00159-JAW-1, ECF No. 8, 19.) In May 2016, Petitioner
pled guilty. (1:15-cr-00159-JAW-1, Change of Plea Hearing,
ECF No. 91.) During the plea negotiations, “the
Government . . . made it clear” that they also
“intended to pursue drug conspiracy charges against
him, ” which created a dispute between Petitioner and
the Government concerning the scope of “relevant
conduct” for purposes of calculating Petitioner's
sentencing guideline range. (1:15-cr-00159-JAW-1,
Defendant's Sentencing Memorandum at 1, ECF No. 109.) In
general, “uncharged conduct is relevant if the
government proves by a preponderance of the evidence that
such uncharged conduct is part of the same course of conduct
or common scheme or plan as the charged conduct.”
United States v. Eisom, 585 F.3d 552, 557 (1st Cir.
2009); U.S.S.G. § 1B1.3.
presentencing conference, the Court explained that “Mr.
Baldwin pleaded guilty to a narrow circle of conduct for
which he's clearly responsible, ” but because the
Government had evidence of a larger conspiracy involving much
larger drug quantities, “he then becomes subject to a
very significant range of penalties based on drug quantity
and his role in the relevant conduct.”
(1:15-cr-00159-JAW-1, Presentence Conference Transcript at 2,
ECF No. 146.) The Court continued:
It strikes me that it really comes down to what Mr. Baldwin
wants to do. I can tell you that I've always felt a
little uneasy about expanded use of relevant conduct in a
situation like this, and I can understand if Mr. Baldwin
says, look, I did what I've been accused of doing and I
am willing to accept whatever punishment is going to be
applied for what I've admitted, but if the government
wants to prove that I've been involved in a more major
conspiracy and wants to prove that drug quantity and . . . my
role in that offense separately, that they should be required
to indict me and they should be required to prove that beyond
a reasonable doubt before a jury and that's what I want.
If he were to tell me that, I think I'd be inclined to
say, well, that's what you have a right to.
On the other hand, I can understand why if he looks hard in
the mirror and says, you know, I think they can prove that I
was involved in this greater conspiracy. Right now I've
only got one federal conviction. If I force them to indict me
and to prove the case against me, then I'll have a couple
of federal convictions under my belt and I may end up in the
same place that I'm now in to begin with, so it . . . may
be better for me to simply allow the process to go forward as
the government has contemplated.
But I really think that's not the government's
choice; I think it's Mr. Baldwin's choice. And if he
were to tell me, with his eyes open, no, I accept the
relevant conduct and I want you to sentence me as if the
government has proven that, I think I . . . would accept
that. On the other hand, if he tells me, no, I really object
to the relevant conduct, then the government has its own
decision to make about whether to indict him and to proceed
against him separately.
(Id. at 2 - 3.)
Government conditionally offered to disclose to defense
counsel its evidence concerning the larger conspiracy:
[I]f [Defense Counsel] talks to Mr. Baldwin and Mr. Baldwin
expresses some . . . willingness to entertain the idea of
resolving the relevant conduct through this sentencing, what
I could do is what I've done in other cases in the past
is I have shared for in-house review redacted grand jury
transcripts and redacted proffer reports from other witnesses
so that those people's names and identities are not
revealed to somebody like Mr. Baldwin, but [Defense Counsel]
can evaluate that evidence and go back to Mr. Baldwin and
say, you know, this is what the government is going to be
able to prove either at a conspiracy trial or if you want to
have it handled in a sentencing on this pending case, this is
what the evidence would be. And then if Mr. Baldwin makes the
decision then, no, I don't want to deal with any of this
in this pending case, at least there's no
misunderstanding between any of us.
The . . . reason why I've held off doing that up to now,
Judge, is that from the very beginning, when we first charged
Mr. Baldwin back in September of 2015 and I . . . sat down
with Mr. Baldwin and his attorney very early on, I wanted to
get Mr. Baldwin's cooperation in this larger
investigation. And so I have been reluctant to share with Mr.
Baldwin what other people are saying about him because that
would render him virtually useless as a cooperator if I then
have to disclose in some future proceeding that my witness,
Syriane Baldwin, has had the opportunity to talk to his
lawyer about what all the other witnesses have already come
in and said. So I've not done that for [Defense Counsel]
because I was holding out some degree of hope that Mr.
Baldwin would want to cooperate.
But if [Defense Counsel] wants to look at that stuff, if Mr.
Baldwin has made his final decision that he's never, ever
going to cooperate, whether it be in this case or in some
future conspiracy prosecution, I can let you take a look at
it now, [Defense Counsel], but I think that that will