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United States v. Tucker

United States District Court, D. Colorado

November 17, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
TIMOTHY JAMES TUCKER, Defendant-Movant.

          ORDER DENYING A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY

          CHRISTINE M. ARGUELLO, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court following the Tenth Circuit's limited remand directing the Court to consider whether to issue a Certificate of Appealability (COA) for Defendant-Movant Timothy James Tucker's appeal. (Doc. # 107.) Having thoroughly considered the issue, the Court concludes that a COA should not be issued on any of Mr. Tucker's claims in this case.

         I. LAW

         A defendant may not appeal the district court's denial of a § 2255 petition without first obtaining a COA. 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(1)(B). A COA will only issue where “the applicant has made a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right.” 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2). “A petitioner satisfies this standard by demonstrating that jurists of reason could disagree with the district court's resolution of his constitutional claims or that jurists could conclude the issues presented are adequate to deserve encouragement to proceed further.” Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 327 (2003); see also Coppage v. McKune, 534 F.3d 1279, 1281 (10th Cir.2008).

         II. ANALYSIS

         Mr. Tucker's 28 U.S.C. § 2255 Motion to Vacate rested on claims that (1) his attorney provided ineffective assistance of counsel; and (2) his plea lacked an adequate factual basis. (Doc. # 96 at 17, 19, 20-22, 25.)

         A. INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL

         With respect to Mr. Tucker's claims of ineffective assistance of counsel, the Court finds that a COA should not be issued.

         To support his § 2255 claim of ineffective assistance, Mr. Tucker asserted trial counsel failed to: (1) form a meaningful and close working relationship with Mr. Tucker; (2) communicate all evidence against Mr. Tucker; (3) determine the mitigating circumstances and interview potential witnesses; (4) file meaningful pre-trial motions; (5) object throughout the proceedings; and (6) effectively represent him before or during sentencing. (Doc. # 96 at 17, 19, 20-22, 25.)

         The Court analyzed Mr. Tucker's claim in light of the two-part test outlined in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984). That test requires Mr. Tucker to show (1) his counsel's representation fell below an objective standard of reasonableness, and (2) he was prejudiced as a result. Id. at 687-94.

         Considering this standard, the Court first concluded that Mr. Tucker's ineffective assistance of counsel claims failed to satisfy the first prong of the Strickland test because he provided the Court with little more than ambiguous, speculative, and conclusory allegations. Among other things, he did not show how is attorney's strategic decisions were objectively unsound; he presented no witnesses left uninterviewed or investigation left unturned; he provided no examples of motions that were not filed; and he was unable to specify how his attorney's communication with him was not meaningful or effective.

         The Court also found Mr. Tucker failed to satisfy the second prong of the Strickland test. The Court concluded that Mr. Tucker that did not present any facts or argument to support a finding of prejudice. Indeed, he did not even mention prejudice and it could not be presumed in this case.

         The Court finds that reasonable jurists could not debate these conclusions, nor find that Mr. Tucker stated a valid claim of the denial of a constitutional right worthy of proceeding further. The law is well-settled that mere conclusory allegations unsupported by specifics are insufficient to support claims under Strickland.

         B. MR. ...


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