Bullard v. United States, No. 17-3731 (6th Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
Bullard was charged with trafficking heroin and as a felon in possession of a firearm. He unsuccessfully moved to suppress the evidence, then entered a plea agreement that recognized that Bullard could face 10 years to life in prison and that Bullard “may be classified as a career offender.” Bullard had a 2003 Arizona conviction for attempting to sell cocaine and a 2013 Ohio conviction for selling drugs. The court determined that Bullard qualified as a career offender, putting his Guidelines range at 292-365 months. Without the enhancement, Bullard’s range would have been 92-115 months. The court varied downward, sentencing Bullard to 140 months. Bullard had agreed that the convictions made him a career offender. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the denial of his motion to suppress. Bullard then sought habeas relief, arguing that the court misclassified him as a career offender and that he received ineffective assistance of counsel when his attorneys failed to challenge this designation. Bullard argued that the Arizona statute criminalized drugs that are not federally controlled and conduct that falls outside the Guidelines’ definition. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the denial of relief. If Bullard were sentenced today, he would not be a career offender but he is not on direct review. Bullard’s claim that the court misclassified him, resulting in a higher recommended sentence is not cognizable on section 2255 collateral review. While his ineffective assistance claim is cognizable, Bullard cannot satisfy the Strickland standard.