United States District Court, D. Montana, Helena Division
CHARLES C. LOVELL SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court are several documents filed by Defendant Eldabaa
since October of 2018. On October 15, 2018, Defendant filed
two documents: (1) a motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to
vacate his judgment on the grounds that he had been denied
effective assistance of counsel at both the sentencing and
appellate stages of his case, (Doc. 314); and (2) a
supporting memorandum (Doc. 315). A request for appointment
of counsel "under 18 USC S 3000A" was attached to
his supporting memorandum. (Doc. 315 at 8). On the same date
the motion and memorandum were filed, the clerk of court sent
Defendant a standard letter informing him of the prescreening
requirement. (Doc. 316).
January 10, 2019, Defendant sent a letter to the Clerk of
Court, which was filed as a "pro se letter." (Doc.
317). The letter appears to relate to an order entered by the
Court on May 4, 2019, denying Defendant's motion for
release of certain funds seized at the time of his arrest.
April 16, 2019, Defendant filed a document titled
"Motion in Limine, Motion to Show Cause, Addenda to
Memoranda" which was docketed as a supplement to his
motion to vacate. (Doc. 318). On April 22, 2019, Defendant
filed a document titled "Memorandum in Support of Motion
Under 28 USC Section 2244, Motion Under USC 18 Section 3006A
Addenda," which was docketed as a supplement to his
motion to vacate. (Doc. 319).
8, 2019, Defendant filed a document titled "Request for
Judicial Notice of this Habeas," (Doc.
331). On July 28, 2019, Defendant sent a letter
to the undersigned asking for the current status of his 2255
motion. That request was filed by the clerk of court as a
"Pro Se Motion for Status Update re: Motion to
Vacate." (Doc. 332).
filing were reviewed as they were received and found by me to
be without merit. Unfortunately, there was a delay in issuing
this opinion because of other pressing matters and the
retirement of my 25-year career clerk.
addressing Defendant's pending motions, the Court first
reviews the procedural background of this criminal matter. In
August of 2015, the grand jury returned a multiple-count
indictment against five separate defendants. (Doc. 2). Count
I of the indictment charged Defendant Eldabaa and the other
defendants with conspiracy to possess with intent to
distribute and to distribute 50 grams or more of actual
methamphetamine and 500 grams or more of a substance
containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine, in
violation of 21 U.S.C. 841(a)(1) and 21 U.S.C. 846. Count
VIII charged Defendant Eldabaa and his co-defendant, Joseph
Jayne, with distribution of 50 grams or more of pure
methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§
841(a)(1) and 18 U.S.C. § 2. Count IX charged Defendants
Eldabaa and Jayne with possession of a firearm in furtherance
of a drug trafficking crime in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
924(c)(1)(A)(ii) and 18 U.S.C. § 2. . Count XI charged
Defendant Eldabaa with being a felon in possession of a
firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1).
Eldabaa first appeared to answer those charges before
Magistrate Judge Lynch in Missoula, Montana, on September 1,
2015. Palmer Hoovestal, a member of the CJA panel for the
Helena Division of the United States District Court, was
present during Defendant Eldabaa's initial appearance and
arraignment and was appointed to represent him. Mr. Hoovestal
filed a number of motions on Mr. Eldabaa's behalf,
including a motion to suppress statements made during a
custodial interrogation by Agent Ken Poteet of the Montana
Department of Justice and FBI Special Agent Brandon Mercer on
February 20, 2015.
Court denied Defendant Eldabaa's motion to suppress on
May 26, 2016, following an April 8, 2016, evidentiary
hearing. On June 3, 2016, Defendant Eldabaa, his counsel, and
counsel for the United States entered into a plea agreement.
(Doc. 202). In the plea agreement, Defendant Eldabaa agreed
to plead guilty to a superseding information charging him
with "possession with the intent to distribute
methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §
841(a)(1)," an offense with a mandatory minimum of five
years imprisonment and a potential maximum term of 40 years
imprisonment. (Doc. 202 at 2, ¶ 2). As part of the plea
agreement, Defendant reserved his right to appeal the
Court's adverse ruling on his motion to suppress and the
government consented to his reservation of rights. (Doc. 202
at 2, ¶ 3).
government also agreed to dismiss the indictment, to make
certain recommendations, and to refrain from filing an
"Information pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 851" even
though Defendant had "one or more prior felony drug
offense convictions." (Doc. 202 at 3). Had Defendant
been convicted of Counts I and IX of the original indictment,
he would have faced a mandatory minimum term of 10 years on
Count I and 5 consecutive years on Count IX.
on the concessions made by the United States in the plea
agreement, Defendant Eldabaa waived his right to appeal any
aspect of his sentence and his right to challenge the
sentence in a proceeding under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. He
reserved his right to pursue a § 2255 action based on
alleged ineffective assistance of counsel.
United States filed an Offer of Proof prior to the change of
plea hearing (Doc. 206) and relied on that document to
provide the factual basis for Defendant's guilty plea,
which he entered on June 15, 2016. Although Defendant did not
agree with all of the facts presented by the government, he
admitted that he possessed five or more grams of
methamphetamine and intended to distribute it.
Court accepted Defendant Eldabaa's guilty plea and set
sentencing for September 15, 2016. The Court also established
a schedule for preparation and submission of the presentence
report and the filing of sentencing memoranda. At Defendant
Eldabaa's request, the Court continued his sentencing
until October 5, 2016.
for Defendant Eldabaa raised three legal objections to the
presentence report, arguing: (1) the two-level enhancement
for possessing a firearm under USSG § 2D 1.1 (b)(1)
should be stricken because the firearm in question belonged
to his co-defendant, Jayne; (2) the base offense level should
be 24, as opposed to 34, because Defendant was responsible
for less than 20 grams of actual methamphetamine; and (3) the
resulting guideline range for a total ...