Spiller v. United States, No. 15-2889 (7th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
The Seventh Circuit affirmed denial (without an evidentiary hearing) of a petition under 28 U.S.C. 2255, which had claimed that Spiller’s counsel was constitutionally ineffective during the plea-bargaining process after Spiller was charged with two counts of distributing a controlled substance 21 U.S.C. 841(a)(1), and one count of selling a firearm to a felon, 18 U.S.C. 922(d)(1). The government had filed a notice, under 21 U.S.C. 851, that it would seek an enhanced mandatory minimum sentence based on Spiller’s three prior drug felonies. The government had offered an agreement that, it conceded, did “not offer a whole lot beyond a blind plea.” Spiller executed a blind plea. With a Guidelines range of 262-327 months, Spiller was sentenced to 240 months; the Seventh Circuit affirmed. In rejecting the ineffective assistance claim, the Seventh Circuit noted that his attorney reviewed Spiller’s plea options, specifically inquired of the government whether there were differences, examined the government’s response, and suggested that Spiller plead blindly, reserving the right to challenge the government’s Guidelines calculation, a right he would have sacrificed under the government’s proposal. The record was sufficient to explain counsel’s decision as strategic, thereby eliminating the need for an evidentiary hearing.