Archives for posts with tag: cocaine

This 2010 opinion is the denial of habeas petition for a convicted murderer in a drug-related offense.

KEVIN POTTER, Petitioner,
v.
WILLIE SMITH, Respondent.

CASE NO. 2:09-CV-12049

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN,
SOUTHERN DIVISION

2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 103088

Decided August 4, 2010, by U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul J. Komives

Petitioner Kevin Potter is a state prisoner, currently confined at the Ionia Maximum Correctional Facility in Ionia, Michigan. On November 11, 2003, petitioner was convicted of conspiracy to commit first degree murder, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.157a, 750.316, following a jury trial in the Wayne County Circuit Court. On December 9, 2003, he was sentenced to a mandatory term of life imprisonment without parole. Petitioner appealed as of right…

The court quotes the trial evidence from the respondent’s answer (so this is the government version of the facts). Three witnesses refer to a man dressed in black and it seems a neighbor witness Beverly Moore used the description “ninja”:

Scott Klass, an electrician, testified that he heard gunshots on the morning of September 19, 2002 and that he saw a man dressed all in black with a rifle and that he saw a van then come down the street, and the van was similar in style to the picture shown to him by the prosecutor. (TT 11/4/03, pp 61-63). Beverly Moore, who lives across the street from the victim’s family, testified that on the morning in question she saw a van parked in front of the Wright house and she wondered why it was blocking their driveway. (TT 11/5/03, pp 8-9). Ms. Moore heard noises but assumed it was firecrackers, but when she went outside she saw a “ninja” all in black with a gun in his hand. (TT 11/5/03, p 13). Another neighbor, Katherine McFarland, also testified about hearing shots and seeing a man all in black with a big, AK 47 type gun in his hands. (TT 11/5/03, pp 39-40).

The facts of this case also involve cocaine, marijuana, an AK-47, and “fire melted” skin. It seems Potter was dressed in black when he killed Mario Allen, on the steps of Mario’s home as Mario left to appear at his sentencing hearing for a drug related crime (a cocaine sale). It seems Mario’s two co-defendents in the drug sale hired Potter to kill Mario so that Mario wouldn’t show up at the sentencing. Then the co-defendants withdrew guilty pleas and prepared to face trial without Mario’s testimony.

In this instant case, Potter is petitioning the federal government for habeas relief but Magistrate Judge Komives finds no violations of federal law, concluding:

In view of the foregoing, the Court should conclude that the state courts’ resolution of petitioner’s claims did not result in a decision which was contrary to, or which involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law. Accordingly, the Court should deny petitioner’s application for the writ of habeas corpus.

This Magistrate report was adopted by order of District Judge Gerald E. Rosen on September 29, 2010

This 60th NinjaLaw case is the story of Robert Clifton Dameron.

robert clifton dameron

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
ROBERT CLIFTON DAMERON, Defendant.

CASE NO. 5:06CR00047
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, HARRISONBURG DIVISION

2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6610; January 30, 2007, Decided

On January 24, 2007, Dameron plead guilty to “unlawfully, knowingly and intentionally distributing or possessing with intent to distribute, or aiding and abetting in the distribution or possession with intent to distribute, 500 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine, a Schedule II narcotic controlled substance, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(A) and Title 18, United States Code, Section 2.

The recommendation of Magistrate Judge B. Waugh Crigler, January 30, 2007, was that “the court accept the defendant’s plea of guilty to Count One and adjudge him guilty of that offense”. And “sentencing hearing hereby [was] scheduled for May 24, 2007 at 9:30 a.m. before the presiding District Judge in Harrisonburg.”

The defendant was informed that the maximum statutory penalty provided by law for the offense with which he is charged, in the case of Count One, is life imprisonment, a fine of $ 4,000,000, and a period of supervised release. The defendant was further informed that Count One has a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years imprisonment.

The sentence was 120 months (10 years, see this later habeas petition) but his obituary states “Robert Clifton Dameron, 37, of Afton, passed away on Saturday, January 28, 2012.” The obit doesn’t say how he died. It does note “He was preceded in death by his stepfather, Jerry Dameron.” Jerry’s obit from Spetember 15, 2011 states he died, age 61, at a hospital but again no cause of death is stated. This death is particularly relevant because the defendant’s ninja motorcycle was purchased by and registered to the stepfather.

THE GOVERNMENT’S EVIDENCE

The defendant waived his right to have the government’s Factual Summary read in open court and had no objection to the Summary. The Factual Summary having been filed in open court, the evidence presented therein regarding the offense charged is as follows:

On October 26, 2005, a Waynesboro police officer observed a black Ninja motorcycle speeding (55 mph in 35 mph zone). The officer pursued motorcycle with emergency lights flashing. The motorcycle accelerated and attempted to flee. A pursuit ensued. The motorcycle became boxed in by another car at an intersection. The officer ordered the driver (Dameron) off the bike at gun point. The defendant’s drivers licence [sic] was suspended and he was an habitual offender. The defendant said the motorcycle was registered to his father. The police officer notified the defendant that he was under arrest for eluding, reckless driving and being a habitual offender. As the officer examined the motorcycle, he noticed a pouch attached to the gas tank. Visible through a clear plastic window was registration and insurance information. The officer unzipped the pouch to get the information, and saw a drug smoking device containing residue. A further search of pouch revealed 526.64 grams of a substance containing methamphetamine, digital scales, packing material, 29.27 grams of cocaine and 28.8 grams of marijuana. The Officer also recovered $ 2,561.00 on the defendant’s person. The defendant’s stepfather testified before the grand jury that he purchased the motorcycle for the defendant, but kept the motorcycle registered in his (the step-father’s) name, at the defendant’s request. Stephanie Dumont, who lived with the defendant, testified before the Grand Jury that no one, other than the defendant, drove the motorcycle. The defendant’s brother, Scotty Dameron, testified before the Grand Jury that the defendant was the only person to use the motorcycle, except on one occasion. Two additional witnesses testified before the Grand Jury that they had purchased methamphetamine from the defendant in the past year. The methamphetamine was sent to the DEA lab and tested positive for methamphetamine, weighing 526.64 grams.

The defendant was subsequently arrested on May 21, 2006. A Nelson County Sheriff observed the defendant operating his motorcycle (the same motorcycle as on October 26, 2005) in a reckless manner, with the front tire coming off the pavement. The Officer pursued the defendant with his lights flashing. The defendant disappeared into a side street. Dispatch advised the officer that a citizen (a retired State trooper) had called in and said the motorcycle and driver were hiding behind a house near the street. The officer went to the house and found the defendant standing next to the motorcycle. The officer patted the defendant down and asked if there was anything in his pants that would stick or cut him. The defendant said no. The officer then located a hypodermic needle in the defendant’s pocket. Officers also recovered a black pouch strapped to the motorcycle. Inside, the pouch, officers recovered several hypodermic needles and a few grams of a detectable amount of methamphetamine. On the way to jail, the defendant slipped out of his handcuffs, and tried to get out of the patrol car. He was unsuccessful.

FINDINGS OF FACT

Based on the evidence presented at the plea hearing, the undersigned now submits the following formal findings of fact, conclusions and recommendations:

1. The defendant is fully competent and capable of entering an informed plea;

2. The defendant is aware of the nature of the charges and the consequences of his plea;

3. The defendant knowingly and voluntarily entered a plea of guilty to Count One of the Indictment; and

4. The evidence presents an independent basis in fact containing each of the essential elements of the offense to which the defendant is pleading guilty.

He was then sentenced to 120 months and habeas petition denied February 18, 2010. And now he’s dead; just five years after the guilty plea and 10 year sentence. I really wonder how he died, and was he still in federal prison?

This defendant’s name is Ninja Palms. She admitted her part in a conspiracy to manufacture and distribute crack cocaine and plead guilty but then balked at sentencing and claimed she didn’t understand the plea. Here, the Court denies her petition for habeas relief.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
NINJA PALMS, Defendant.

No. 05 c 374
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS, EASTERN DIVISION
2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 88657

Opinion by Judge Wayne R. Andersen, decided November 29, 2006

This case is before the court on Ninja Palms‘ (“Palms”) petition for writ of habeas corpus. Palms is asking the court to vacate, set aside, or correct her sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. For the following reasons, the petition is denied. Id.
BACKGROUND

Beginning in 1994 and continuing until March 2002, Palms contributed in a drug conspiracy to manufacture and distribute crack cocaine. As part of the conspiracy, co-defendants, Troy Lawrence (“Lawrence”) and Cameron Wilson (“Wilson”), delivered kilograms of powder cocaine to Palms’ apartment. Lawrence cooked the powder cocaine into crack cocaine and broke it into small pieces. Palms, Lawrence, Wilson, Levert Griffin, and Montel Goings would then place the small pieces of crack cocaine into individual bags, seal them, and then store them in Palms’ apartment until they were sold. Palms admitted in her plea agreement that she delivered crack cocaine packages to the “shift runners” at a drug spot which was within 1,000 feet of the Gavin Elementary School in Chicago Heights, Illinois. Palms also admitted in her plea agreement that she occasionally accompanied Lawrence during the purchases of the cocaine purchases, and, in exchange for Palms’ help, Lawrence promised to pay her rent plus a weekly salary. However, Palms states she sometimes did not receive the weekly salary.

On July 16, 2002, Palms was charged with: (1) conspiring to posses with intent to distribute; and (2) distributing powder and crack cocaine within 1,000 feet of an elementary school, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and (b) and 21 U.S.C. § 860(a). Represented by court-appointed counsel and pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 846 and 18 U.S.C. § 2, on November 26, 2002 Palms pled guilty to Count I of the indictment.

Then

On July 8, 2004, Palms was sentenced to 112 months imprisonment. On January 20, 2005, Palms filed the instant petition to vacate, set aside, or correct her sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. As support for her petition, Palms raises the constitutional arguments of ineffective assistance of trial counsel and that she involuntarily pled guilty and now asks this court to examine both claims.

But

Palms affirmed her understanding of this portion of the plea agreement at the plea hearing. (11/26/02 Plea Hearing at 11.) She offers no support in her petition to show that her attorney improperly advised her regarding her right to collaterally attack her sentence. In fact, Palms’ affirmative response at the plea hearing supports the conclusion that she knowingly waived her right to collaterally attack her sentence.

The claims of ineffective assistant do not satisfy analysis under first prong of Strickland.

Ninja Palms’ petition for writ of habeas corpus to vacate, set aside, or correct her sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 is denied.

Alejandro Reyes was convicted of drug related offenses and filed petition for habeas relief alleging that evidence of statements made to police were admitted without proper notice and in violation of Miranda rights. The Court held that statements of pedigree information (“such as the defendant’s name, address, height, weight, age, eye color, and date of birth”) do not require notice or Miranda protections.

ALEJANDRO REYES, Petitioner,
v. DAVID MILLER, Superintendent, Respondent.
98-CV-199H
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
1999 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12157

Decided – June 23, 1999

Opinion by Judge Carol Heckman:

Detective Grisanti searched another bedroom that was located on the left hand side of a dining room. Inside the bedroom was a statute of a ninja turtle. Detective Grisanti opened the top of the ninja turtle and found sixty-seven bags of heroin. The bags of heroin were wrapped in ten packages. Detective Grisanti testified that the heroin was packaged for sale. He also testified that the street value of the heroin was twenty dollars per bag.

For you math whizzes that’s about $1340 worth of heroin stuffed into a “statue of a ninja turtle”.

Plus “Approximately twenty-two ounces of crack cocaine were found in the bedroom” and “a loaded .38 caliber revolver inside a pocket of a coat that was hanging in the closet”.

The Court denies the petition finding no constitutional violations. But note, two defendants were arrested at the scene and they were tried together but only one was convicted. Is it because of the one’s statement admitting that he lived there? Was he then convicted based largely on his pedigree information while the other defendant was merely found at the scene.

This case joins a growing list of “Ninja Turtle” cases but the first that involves drugs. Previously I had been making a distinction between cases actually about involving Teenage Mutant characters and cases where they seem to be mentioned for no real reason. The case seems more like the latter because the Court did not need to mention the type of statue container. Courts seem to just like to mention the Ninja Turtles whenever possible.

Previous NinjaLaw cases about Ninja Turtles:

First mention of TMNT in Federal Courts
Sun Dun v Coca Cola – August 15, 1991

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles again – Retromutagen Ooze
Monarch v. Ritam – June 12, 1992

Ninja Turtles and Hollywood’s Horizontal Conspiracy
El Cajon v. AMC – October 23, 1992

First mention of Ninja Turtles in F.Ct. where it’s actually about them
Mirage Studios v. Weng et.al. – April 29, 1994

Burger King Kids Club with Mutant Ninja Turtles – multi-ethnic path to Glee and Celebrity Apprentice
CK Company v. Burger King – September 29, 1994

Ninja Turtles again, this time with FASA’s BattleTech, ExoSquad, RoboTech and Playmates
Fasa v. Playmates – June 19, 1995
(WITH POWER RANGERS)

Spam vs Spa’am with Splinter from TMNT and Pumbaa from Lion King
Hormel Foods v. Jim Henson Productions – September 22, 1995

Ring Pops not utilitarian so trademark protects after patent expired
Topps Company v. Verburg – December 12, 1996

Ninja Turtles as euphemism for Prison Response Team
Clark v. Westchester County – April 30, 1998

In a 1998 opinion about suppression of statements made to police officers while in police custody after requesting an attorney. The Court decided that defendant’s statements made to police were admissible.

US v Thornton
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff, v. ERVIN JUNIUS THORNTON II, Defendant.
CRIMINAL NO. 97-50021-01
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN, SOUTHERN DIVISION
17 F. Supp. 2d 686

Decided – September 1, 1998

Opinion by Honorable Paul V. Gadola:

Defendant Ervin Junius Thornton II has filed a motion to suppress his alleged out of court statements made to a law enforcement officer. Defendant argues that these statements should be suppressed at trial due to a violation of his Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights. On July 23, 24 and August 18, 1998, this Court held an evidentiary hearing on defendant’s motion to suppress. For the reasons set forth below, this Court will deny defendant’s motion to suppress out of court statements.

Explaining:

According to [police lieutenant] Koger’s testimony, Thornton’s statement included the following assertions: that he had been paid $ 10,000 by Jewell Lamont Allen and Tederick Jones for the murder of David Strickland; that the reason for the murder was that Strickland had been indicted and Jewell Lamont Allen was afraid he would talk; that the weapon he used was a nine-millimeter and that Tederick Jones (“Teddy”) conducted surveillance during the murders; that the clothing he wore was a black “ninja-outfit;” that he was involved in drug trafficking; and that he had purchased drugs from Allen.

And:

Defendant further revealed that the weapon he used was a 9 millimeter handgun and that Tederick Jones (“Teddy”) conducted surveillance during the murders. He further admitted he was involved in drug trafficking and that he had purchased drugs from Allen, as well as that the clothing he had used was a black ninja outfit.

What is a black ninja outfit? Is it difference than a black outfit? And should it be hyphenated or not? This Opinion writes it both ways (“ninja outfit” and “ninja-outfit” and it doesn’t really explain what makes the outfit ninja, except that it was used in surreptitious surveillance during a murder-for-hire and related to drug dealing (marijuana and cocaine). The court also can’t decide how to write the gun’s description, “9 millimeter” or “nine-millimeter”. But as with “ninja face masks“, “black ninja hood“, and “ninja pants“, I wonder what is actually being conveyed by this adjective except conclusions of criminal behavior.

Meanwhile, the defendant, Thornton, was convicted at trial and lost his subsequent appeals (See 99-1275). The Supreme Court also denied cert in 2000 (531 U.S. 1179), and a recent 2006 motion for relief of judgment based on claims that evidence should have been suppressed at trial was denied for being untimely and without merit (Thornton v USA, 97-50021).

In this 1992 case, ninja is used to refer to the attire of law enforcement personnel. Recall this previous case of DEA agents in ninja outfits. This case arises with allegation of excessive force, which will become a common theme for future cases involving ninja law enforcement.

MITCHELL L. POPE, Plaintiff, v. CRAIG KLEMENS; SGT. PAT WILSON; DON KNECHTEL; PATTY LUCIANO; CLYDE SMITH; PAUL WEIDNER; and MARK BURNS, All City of Lansing, Michigan Police Officers, Defendants.
File No. 5:90-CV-55
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
1992 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8686

Decided – February 18, 1992

The case arises from the search of an apartment where the police had previously made a purchase of cocaine (but not from the Plaintiff):

According to plaintiff, the following occurred during the search. The police entered the residence and yelled, “police search warrant.” Two search warrants were put on the counter. Plaintiff states that he thought it was a joke, but when he rounded the corner into the kitchen, he saw a “person with a mask on in a ninja suite [sic] holding a pistol. This was the first person in the door. This person came towards me, and put the pistol at my face with the light on for the sites. This person backed me up a sort [sic] distance till my rear came to the table, and I was there with my hands up and had this gun at my face, pointed between my eyes. . . . This person kicked me in the chest, while I had my hands over my head. He kicked at me while he had me at gun point. And kicked with intent to do grate [sic] bodily harm.”

Based on that,

Plaintiff accuses all defendants of violating his fourth amendment rights on the grounds that there was no probable cause to justify the search and seizure. Plaintiff also states a claim for excessive force against the person allegedly camouflaged in a “ninja” suit who, while pointing a gun at plaintiff, allegedly kicked plaintiff in the chest.

Plaintiff seeks $ 300,000.00 in compensatory damages and the return of all arrest cards and other incriminating information.

Dismissing the claim, the Court writes:

Plaintiff has provided no evidence of any injury or corroborating evidence by any of the other witnesses. Allegations supported by only a scintilla of evidence are insufficient to demonstrate a genuine issue of fact. Accordingly, I find in favor of defendants on plaintiff’s fourth amendment excessive force claim.