United States District Court, D. Connecticut
ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR POST-CONVICTION RELIEF
PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 2255
JEFFREY ALKER MEYER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Papadakos has filed a motion for post-conviction relief
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. He alleges that he did not
receive constitutionally effective assistance of counsel in
connection with his plea of guilty to a narcotics conspiracy
charge. I will deny the motion for substantially the reasons
stated by the Government in its response.
23, 2014, Papadakos entered a plea of guilty before me to a
charge of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent
to distribute controlled substances including at least 500
grams of cocaine. See Doc. #934 (plea agreement) to
United States v. Papadakos, 3:12-cr-117-JAM-1 (D.
Conn.). The guilty plea occurred on the day of jury
selection, more than two years after Papadakos was indicted
on May 23, 2012. Doc. #7 to ibid.
parties agreed in the plea agreement to a sentencing
guideline range of not less than 121-151 months of
imprisonment. Doc. #934 at 5 to ibid. The parties
further agreed that the amount of cocaine involved in the
conspiracy offense was at least 1, 385 grams of cocaine and
and at least 204 grams of oxycodone. Doc. #934 at 10 to
guilty plea hearing, I questioned Papadakos at length to
ensure that he understood the terms of the plea agreement,
including the parties' agreement concerning the
sentencing guidelines and the amount of controlled substances
involved in the offense. Doc. #1148. The plea transcript
reflects that Papadakos was advised that his sentencing
guideline calculation would include a two-point reduction for
acceptance of responsibility but would not include an
additional third-point reduction for acceptance of
responsibility in light of Papadakos's decision to wait
until the day of jury selection to enter a plea of guilty.
Doc. #1148 at 14-15, 18 to id.; see also
U.S.S.G. § 3E1.1(b) (providing for standard two-point
reduction for acceptance of responsibility and allowing for
government to make a motion for an additional one-point
reduction if defendant “timely notif[es] authorities of
his intention to enter a plea of guilty”).
December 18, 2014, Judge Eginton imposed a sentence
principally including 121 months imprisonment. Doc. #1130 to
id.. Papadakos appealed but then withdrew his
appeal. Doc. #1223 to id. On June 20, 2016,
Papadakos filed the instant motion for post-conviction relief
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Doc. #1.
prisoner in federal custody may seek to have his sentence
vacated, set aside, or corrected if his “sentence was
imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the
United States or . . . the court was without jurisdiction to
impose such sentence, or . . . the sentence was in excess of
the maximum authorized by law, or is otherwise subject to
collateral attack.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). The
prisoner bears the burden of proving, by a preponderance of
the evidence, that he is entitled to relief. See Napoli
v. United States, 45 F.3d 680, 683 (2d Cir. 1995).
of ineffective assistance of counsel is reviewed in light of
the well-established, two-part standard set forth by the
Supreme Court in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S.
668 (1984). First, a defendant must show deficient
performance-that counsel's conduct “fell below an
objective standard of reasonableness” established by
“prevailing professional norms”-and, second, a
defendant must show that this deficient performance caused
prejudice. Id. at 687-88.
similar “two-part . . . test applies to challenges to
guilty pleas based on ineffective assistance of
counsel.” Hill v. Lockhart, 474 U.S. 52, 58
(1985). The prejudice prong in this context “focuses on
whether counsel's constitutionally ineffective
performance affected the outcome of the plea process.”
Id. at 59. In other words, “the defendant must
show that there is a reasonable probability that, but for
counsel's errors, he would not have pleaded guilty and
would have insisted on going to trial.” Id.;
see also Kovacs v. United States, 744 F.3d 44, 51-52
(2d Cir. 2014) (discussing various ways that prejudice may be
shown in guilty plea context).
argues that his counsel was constitutionally ineffective
because he failed to advocate for an additional one-point
reduction for acceptance of responsibility. Doc. #2 at 3-5. I
do not agree. The record is clear that Papadakos waited until
the very morning of jury selection to enter his plea of
guilty. In light of this timing, the Government quite
understandably declined to move for an additional one-point
reduction pursuant to USSG § 3E1.1(b). All this was
explained to Papadakos at his guilty plea hearing, and
Papadakos has failed to show that his counsel was deficient
or that any possible deficiency caused any prejudice.
next argues that his counsel was constitutionally ineffective
because he failed to respond to the Government's
embellished description of drug quantities during the course
of his sentencing hearing. Doc. #2 at 7-8. I do not agree.
Because Papadakos was sentenced at the bottom of the
Sentencing Guideline range that corresponded to the drug
quantity to which he expressly agreed in the plea agreement,
he cannot show any possible prejudice from any deficiency of
his counsel with respect to responding to the