Christopher v. United States, No. 15-2027 (6th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
After the government charged him with selling cocaine, Christopher hired a lawyer. Christopher later claimed that, over the course of the representation, the lawyer used cocaine with Christopher more than 20 times, including several times immediately before court hearings. The government had considerable evidence: recordings of 10 phone calls in which he negotiated purchases of the drug and testimony from the leader of the conspiracy and another coconspirator that Christopher had bought the drug for resale. It had already convicted many of Christopher’s co-conspirators based on similar evidence. Three months after being convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison, without having appealed, Christopher filed a section 2255 motion to vacate, arguing that his attorney’s behaviour caused him to forgo a favorable plea deal, with a sentence of 30-37 months. After a remand for a hearing, the Seventh Circuit affirmed denial of the motion. The trial judge did not clearly err in finding defense counsel “credible” while finding Christopher’s credibility “very much undercut.” The court thought the attorney was prepared and rendered effective counsel; the record permits that conclusion.