United States v. Mayhew, No. 19-6560 (4th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
After defendant was convicted on fraud charges stemming from an investment scam and sentenced to 26 years' imprisonment, he filed a 28 U.S.C. 2255 petition seeking to vacate his conviction and sentence. The Fourth Circuit granted a certificate of appealability on two of defendant's claims.
First, defendant alleged that his lawyer guaranteed him – incorrectly, as it turned out – that he would be sentenced only to two to five years' imprisonment if he were convicted at trial, and that he relied on that guarantee when he rejected a plea offer from the government. The district court dismissed and concluded that any prejudice caused by counsel's error necessarily would have been cured when the court at defendant's arraignment advised him of his actual sentencing exposure. The court concluded that, because the district court's corrective came after defendant already had rejected the plea offer, the court cannot assume without more that it cured the prejudice defendant alleges. Therefore, the court concluded that defendant is entitled to an evidentiary hearing on this claim.
Second, defendant alleged that his counsel performed deficiently in connection with the amount of restitution he owed, failing to object to the inclusion of losses that stemmed from conduct for which he had not been convicted. The court agreed with the district court's dismissal of this claim on the ground that challenges to restitution orders may not be raised by way of section 2255. However, defendant was not challenging only his restitution order; he also alleged that the same erroneous calculation affected his Guidelines sentencing range and hence his term of imprisonment. The court concluded that this claim is cognizable under section 2255. Accordingly, the court remanded to the district court to address it in the first instance.