United States District Court, D. Delaware
Pronin. Pro se Movant.
Falgowski, Assistant United States Attorney, United States
Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware. Attorney for
Pronin ("Movant") filed a timely Motion to Vacate,
Set Aside, or Correct Sentence, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
2255, asserting three claims for relief. (D.I. 27) The United
States ("Government") filed an Answer in
Opposition. (D.I. 33) In a Memorandum Opinion dated September
30, 2016, the Court denied Claim Two of Movant's §
2255 Motion. The Court reserved ruling on Claim One, which
alleges ineffective assistance of counsel, in order to
provide the Government an opportunity to supplement its
Response. (D.I. 42; D.I. 43) The Government filed a
Supplemental Response with respect to Claim One (D.I. 46),
and Movant filed a Reply (D.I. 50). For the reasons
discussed, the Court will deny Claim One of Movant's
§ 2255 Motion without holding an evidentiary hearing.
April 2011, Movant was indicted on the following three
counts: (1) armed bank robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 2114(a) and (d); (2) carrying, using, and brandishing
a firearm during a crime of violence, in violation of 18
U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A)(ii); and (3) possession of a
firearm by an illegal alien, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
922(g)(5)(A) and (B). (D.I. 1) These charges arose from
Movant's commission of an armed robbery at the Wilmington
Savings Fund Society ("WSFS") branch, located in
the Pike Creek Shopping Center, Wilmington, Delaware. (D.I.
23 at 17)
20, 2011, Movant entered a guilty plea to Counts One and Two
of the Indictment. (D.I 14) In exchange for Movant's
guilty plea, the Government agreed that a two-level reduction
in offense level for acceptance of responsibility was
appropriate. (D.I. 14 at ¶ 3) Further, if Movant's
offense level was determined to be 16 or greater, the
Government agreed to recommend an additional one point
reduction for acceptance of responsibility. Id.
United States Probation Office prepared a Presentence
Investigation Report ("PSR"), which calculated a
total advisory range of 114 to 121 months. (D.I. 33 at 7)
Movant requested a variance for "a sentence at or
slighdy below the bottom of the advisor}' guideline range
of 114 to 121 months." (D.I. 17 at 1) After thoroughly
reviewing the PSR and the written submissions by the parties,
and after hearing from the parties during the sentencing
hearing, the Court denied Movant's motion for a variance
and sentenced Movant to a total term of 120 months of
imprisonment. (D.I. 20)
filed a pro se notice of appeal on October 7, 2011.
(D.I. 21) On October 19, 2011, the Court of Appeals for the
Third Circuit appointed the Federal Public Defender's
Office for the District of Delaware to represent Movant
during his appeal. See United States v. Pronin, C.A.
No. 11-3789, Order (3d Cir. Oct. 19, 2011). On January 31,
2012, the Assistant Public Defender representing Movant
("appellate counsel") filed a Motion for Voluntary
Dismissal of Movant's Appeal Pursuant to Federal Rule of
Appellate Procedure 42(b). (D.I. 33-1 at A11-A15) On February
15, 2012, the Third Circuit issued an Order granting that
motion and dismissing Movant's appeal. See United
States v. Pronin, C.A. No. 11-3789, Order (3d Cir. Feb.
January 2013, Movant filed the instant § 2255 Motion.
The Government filed an Answer in Opposition. (D.I. 33)
Movant subsequendy filed a combined Motion to Expand the
Record and to Appoint Counsel (D.I. 35), a Supplemental
Motion (D.I. 38), a second Motion to Appoint Counsel (D.I.
39), and a Motion for a Certificate of Appealability (D.I.
40). On September 30, 2016, the Court granted the Motion to
Expand the Record, denied the Motion to Appoint Counsel,
denied the Motion for a Certificate of Appealability, and
denied Claim Two of the § 2255 Motion. However, the
Court reserved ruling on Claim One in order to provide the
Government with an opportunity to supplement its Response to
address the assertions in Movant's Supplemental Motion.
(D.I. 42; D.I. 43) The Government filed its Supplemental
Response (D.I. 46), and Movant filed a Reply to that Response
sole remaining Claim pending before the Court, Movant
contends that defense counsel failed to "properly
investigate" and present his "medical
situation" during sentencing, because defense counsel
failed to act on Movant's request that defense counsel
should obtain medical documentation from the attorney who had
previously represented Movant in Baltimore County, Maryland.
(D.I. 27 at 4, 16-21) According to Movant, the Court may have
granted a downward departure due to his medical/psychological
condition if defense counsel had presented the pertinent
information during the sentencing hearing.
order to prevail on the remaining Claim in the Petition,
Movant must satisfy the two-pronged standard established in
Strickland v. Washington,466 U.S. 668 (1984). Under
the first Strickland prong, a movant must
demonstrate that "counsel's representation fell
below an objective standard of reasonableness, " with
reasonableness being judged under professional norms
prevailing at the time counsel rendered assistance.
Strickland, 466 U.S. at 688. Under the second
Strickland prong, a movant must demonstrate a
reasonable probability that, but for counsel's error, the
outcome of the proceeding would have been different.
Id. at 694; United States v. Nahodil, 36
F.3d 323, 326 (3d Cir. 1994). In the context of a guilty
plea, a movant satisfies Strickland's prejudice
prong by demonstrating that, but for counsel's error,
there is a reasonable probability that he would have insisted
on proceeding to trial instead of pleading guilty. See
Hill v. Unckhart,474 U.S. 52, 58 (1985). When, as here,
a movant contends that counsel provided ineffective
assistance during sentencing, the prejudice prong is
satisfied by demonstrating a "reasonable probability
that, but for counsel's errors, the result of the
sentencing proceeding would have been different than what
occurred." United States v. Polk,577 F.3d 515,
520 (3d Cir. 2009). A court can choose to address the
prejudice prong before the ...