Archives for posts with tag: drugs

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.

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UNITED STATES OF AMERICA -against- STEVEN CAMACHO and JAIME RODRIGUEZ, Defendants.
S12 94 Cr. 313 (CSH)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
163 F. Supp. 2d 287

Decided – October 1, 2001

The opinion of the court is written by Charles S. Haight, Jr.:

Camacho and Rodriguez were indicted on racketeering charges on May 25, 1994, along with multiple other defendants as part of the federal prosecution of members of the C&C gang, which operated in the Bronx. Early in the case, the government agreed to try Camacho and Rodriguez separately from the others, and accordingly they were severed from the primary case. After securing guilty pleas from numerous defendants and agreeing to additional severances, the government initially proceeded to trial against Angel Padilla, one of the founders of the C & C gang, and Ivan Rodriguez, the man accused of killing the other founder, Juan Calderon. Both Padilla and Ivan Rodriguez were convicted in May of 1995.

Camacho and Jaime Rodriguez were later tried pursuant to a superseding indictment dated February 12, 1996. They were charged at trial with conspiracy to murder Hector Ocasio, the murders of Hector Ocasio and Gilberto Garcia, and the attempted murder of Luis Garcia, all in aid of the C&C racketeering enterprise, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1959; they were also charged with a related firearms offense in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924. A jury trial commenced on June 3, 1996. The government advanced the following theory of how the murders and attempted murder took place: After Calderon was killed, Padilla told the members of his security force to keep a low profile and brought in a new head of security, Hector Ocasio, who hired new security members. Soon, Padilla and several longtime members of his security force, including James Albizu, Joey Pillot, Trumont Williams, and Gregory Cherry, 1 began to distrust Ocasio. Ocasio had reduced weekly salaries and then cut several security members from the payroll. He also had given local drug dealers permission to shoot Williams and Cherry. Albizu conceived of a plan to murder Ocasio, and he discussed his plan with Pillot, Williams, and Cherry. He also discussed his plan with Camacho and Rodriguez, who together used to pay C&C “rent” to sell drugs in the gang’s neighborhood and were friendly with Albizu. In late December of 1992, Albizu, Williams, Cherry, Camacho, Rodriguez, and a cousin of Rodriguez’s agreed to meet to kill Ocasio, but the plan fell through when Cherry failed to appear.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – Footnotes – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
1 The members of the C&C gang were frequently referred to at trial by their nicknames: Albizu–“Pito,” Pillot–“Joey,” Williams–“Tree,” and Cherry–“G” or “Ninja.” Camacho and Rodriguez were sometimes referred to respectively as “Spanky” and “Jay”; two other indicated defendants appear to have the same nicknames (James Rodriguez–“Spanky” and James Boggio–“Jay”).

One issue in this case is credibility of testimony from Cherry (aka Ninja):

The case at bar is complicated by the fact that the admissibility of Cherry’s declarations must be viewed in the context of defendants’ motion for a new trial under Rule 33. Casamento and the other Rule 804(b)(3) decisions previously discussed all arose out of trial judges’ evidentiary rulings during trials from which convicted defendants took appeals. In other words, the only question before the courts of appeal was whether, during the trial, the trial judge correctly applied Rule 804(b)(3) in admitting inculpatory out-of-court declarations or excluding exculpatory ones. In this Rule 33 context, the “newly discovered evidence must be of a sort that could, if believed, change the verdict”; and, in making that determination, “the trial court has broad discretion to decide Rule 33 motions based upon its evaluation of the proof produced,” Gambino, 59 F.3d at 364.

While I am aware of no case discussing the interaction between evidentiary Rule 804(b)(3) and procedural Rule 33, I think that the expanded focus of the present inquiry makes it at least arguable that I may consider the credibility of Thomas as a witness: not to determine the admissibility of Cherry’s declarations, but rather to evaluate the likely effect of Thomas’s testimony upon the jury at a new trial.

I do not decide the point now, and will hear argument from counsel concerning it. But I entertain no doubt that the prudent course is to develop a full record during the evidentiary hearing. That means that the government may cross-examine Thomas fully as to whether or not in fact Cherry made the statements Thomas ascribes to him. The government may also offer extrinsic evidence (if it has any) bearing upon that question of fact.

The Court also decided to “deny defendants’ request for a grant of judicial immunity for Gregory Cherry to testify.”

This is not the first time Judge Haight had the opportunity publish the word “ninja” in the federal record. Recall NinjaLaw post about “Burger King Kids Club with Mutant Ninja Turtles” in which Judge Haight used the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to support the holding that concepts and ideas of multi-ethnicity cannot be copyrighted.

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).