U.S. v. DEASES Nos. 89-40039-01-DES, 96-3089-DES.
923 F.Supp. 170 (1996)
UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff/Respondent, v. Eustaquio DEASES, Defendant/Movant.
United States District Court, D. Kansas.
April 2, 1996.
Richard L. Hathaway, Office of United States Attorney, Topeka, KS, for U.S.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
SAFFELS, Senior District Judge.
This matter is before the court on Eustaquio Deases' ("Deases") motion — filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 — to set aside and vacate his convictions (Doc. 42) for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and using or carrying a firearm in relationship to drug trafficking.
In his motion, Deases alleges that this court did not have jurisdiction over his indictment, that he suffered ineffective assistance of counsel, that his guilty pleas were involuntary and that his conviction for using or carrying a firearm during drug trafficking should be vacated in light of the United
In his reply to the Government's response to his motion, Deases moves for summary judgment (Doc. 45). A motion for summary judgment pertains to claims, counterclaims, cross-claims or a motion for declaratory judgment. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Hence, Deases' motion for summary judgment is inapplicable to his motion to vacate his sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 and will not be considered by this court.
On July 24, 1989, Deases was stopped for speeding by a Kansas Highway Patrol trooper on I-35 in Franklin County. While writing a warning to Deases the trooper noticed that Deases was becoming increasingly nervous. After issuing the warning and returning Deases his driver's license, the trooper asked to search Deases' car and Deases consented. Upon searching the trunk of the vehicle, the trooper found a loaded .20 gauge shotgun and a black travel bag containing approximately one kilogram of cocaine.
Deases was indicted shortly thereafter and pleaded guilty to two counts on October 25, 1989. The first count was for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute under 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). The second count was for using or carrying a firearm in relationship to a drug trafficking crime under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1).
A. Bailey Applies Retroactively to Plea Agreements
In United States v. Fletcher,
In the instant case, Deases alleges that his conviction for using or carrying a firearm should not stand in light of the Bailey decision. Deases contends that the shotgun found in his car trunk does not constitute a crime under 18 U.S.C. 924(c)(1). Accordingly, this court accepts Deases' argument that he is entitled to challenge his sentence under § 2255.
B. Bailey Applies to "Use," But Not to "Carry."
In Bailey v. United States, ___ U.S. ___, 116 S.Ct. 501, 133 L.Ed.2d 472 (1995), the United States Supreme Court narrowed the definition of "use" of a firearm in drug trafficking cases. Under Bailey, the government must prove "an active employment of the firearm by the defendant, a use that makes the firearm an operative factor in relation to the predicate offense." Id. at ___, 116 S.Ct. at 505. "Use" connotes "more than mere possession of a firearm by a person who commits a drug offense." Id. at ___, 116 S.Ct. at 506. If the offender does not disclose or mention the gun, it is not used; placement for later active use does not in and of itself constitute "use." Id. at ___, 116 S.Ct. at 509-10. Active employment includes "reference to a firearm calculated to bring about a change in the circumstances of the predicate offense," as well as brandishing or displaying a gun. Id. at ___, 116 S.Ct. at 508. A defendant should not be charged, however, for merely storing a weapon near drugs or drug proceeds. Id.
It is clear from the facts that Deases' possession of the shotgun in his trunk does not constitute "use" in light of Bailey. It was merely stored in proximity to the drugs; there was no active employment of the gun.
However, in interpreting 18 U.S.C. 924(c)(1), the Supreme Court found "there is no evidence to indicate that Congress intended to expand the meaning of `use' so far as to swallow up any significance for `carry.'" Bailey, ___ U.S. at ___, 116 S.Ct. at 507. In Bailey the Court made it clear that under the statute, "the `carry prong' ... brings some offenders who would not satisfy the `use' prong within reach of the statute." Id. at ____, 116 S.Ct. at 509. Accordingly, this
C. Deases "Carried" a Firearm
Deases was convicted under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1) for having "used or carried" a firearm while trafficking cocaine. In several cases prior to Bailey, the Tenth Circuit focused on the "carry" prong of the statute and formulated an approach to interpreting it.
In United States v. Cardenas,
Specifically, the court in Cardenas held that carrying involved two elements: possession of the weapon through the exercise of dominion or control; and transportation or movement of the weapon. Id. at 1535-36. (See also U.S. v. Martinez,
In the instant case, the facts plainly demonstrate that Deases was transporting or moving the shotgun in the trunk of the car— alongside the cocaine—when he was stopped by a trooper for speeding. Hence, there was transportation or movement.
In Jones, the defendant was found with both drugs and a handgun in the trunk of his car. The court found that "the handgun was within easy reach upon entry into the trunk and was found within one foot of the drugs. This could allow the jury to find that it [the handgun] was intended for use in protecting the drugs." Id. at 632.
Similarly, Deases had his loaded shotgun stored in the same area as the drugs he was carrying, i.e., the trunk of the car. Following the precedent set in Jones, "this could allow the jury to find that it [the shotgun] was intended for use in protecting drugs."
The only issue remaining is whether Deases had possession of the weapon through the exercise of dominion or control. In Cardenas, the court held that "possession" was a requisite element of "carrying" in the context of 18 U.S.C. 924(c). Cardenas, 864 F.2d at 1535.
The court further found that "constructive possession" is sufficient to find that a person had possession of a firearm. Id. at 1533. "A person in constructive possession of an item knowingly holds the power to exercise dominion and control over it." Cardenas, 864 F.2d at 1533. The court held that Cardenas knew the gun was in the truck he was driving and that when the gun was discovered, "it was within effortless reach of his hands, more accessible than if it were in his own pocket." Id.
In addition, the court held that "there must be an act by which that ability [to exercise dominion or control] is manifested or implemented." Id. The court found that "the placement of the gun within inches of Cardenas' hands, together with the act of concealment of the gun behind the potato chip bag, satisfy the requisite act manifesting Cardenas' power to exercise dominion and control."
Most of the cases in this circuit dealing with guns carried in cars are distinguishable from the instant case because the guns were located somewhere inside the passenger compartment of the car within immediate reach of the defendant, thus making dominion and control easier to prove. See U.S. v. Nicholson,
In Jones, a "handgun was within easy reach upon entry into the trunk and was
In U.S. v. Ross,
Reason dictates that Deases "constructively possessed" the shotgun which was found in the trunk of the car where the drugs also were discovered. Deases admitted that he owned the gun, demonstrating knowledge that he had dominion and control over the gun. The gun was loaded when found in the trunk, demonstrating its readiness for use in protecting the drugs. Every time Deases opened the trunk the gun was available, within easy grasp if necessary, demonstrating the requisite dominion and control over it. Finally, Deases associated the gun with the drugs by placing it within proximity thereof, demonstrating the requisite act by which the ability to exercise dominion or control is manifested or implemented. Whether the gun was already in the trunk when Deases placed the drugs there, or vice versa, or whether the drugs and gun were placed in the trunk concurrently, is not important. The fact remains that Deases positioned the gun and drugs together so as to facilitate access to one or the other while effectuating the illegal narcotics transaction.
D. Jurisdiction and Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
Deases' argument that Congress does not have authority to enact the legislation under which he was convicted — thereby negativing this court's jurisdiction over his case — is wholly without merit.
Congress's authority to enact criminal laws proscribing drug trafficking and the use or carrying of firearms while peddling drugs emanates from the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. See U.S. Const., Art. 1, § 8, cl. 3. "The authority of Congress to keep the channels of interstate commerce free from immoral and injurious uses has been frequently sustained, and is no longer open to question." U.S. v. Lopez, ___ U.S. ___, ___, 115 S.Ct. 1624, 1629, 131 L.Ed.2d 626 (1995).
Deases was using Interstate 35 — a major artery of interstate commerce — to transport a large quantity of cocaine. The injurious consequences of transporting narcotics accompanied by a loaded weapon speaks for itself. Deases' lack of jurisdiction argument is rejected.
As for Deases' allegation of ineffective assistance of counsel, he has not set forth one fact demonstrating how he might have been prejudiced through his counsel's actions or inaction. Therefore, this court need not consider the matter any further.
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