Chambers v. United States, No. 16-2977 (7th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
Chambers pleaded guilty to distributing child pornography, 18 U.S.C. 2252A(a)(2)(A), (a)(5)(B). His attorney argued for a downward variance based on Chambers’s diminished capacity, U.S.S.G. 5K2.13. He was sentenced to 168 months, the low end of the range. Chambers voluntarily dismissed his direct appeal and challenged his sentence under 28 U.S.C. 2255, claiming ineffective assistance because counsel promised him a five-year sentence and failed to present mitigating evidence. Trial counsel testified that he never told Chambers he would receive a five-year sentence and that he decided against having Chambers’s therapist testify because it might look like Chambers was not accepting responsibility. The judge denied Chambers’s motion, noting that the PSR thoroughly described and counsel made arguments concerning Chambers’s background and mental-health issues. Chambers’s counsel on appeal abandoned him. The Seventh Circuit declined to issue a certificate of appealability. Chambers sought relief under Rule 60(b), arguing that he had been deprived of his opportunity to be heard when he was blocked from filing a pro se memorandum in support of his request for a certificate of appealability. The district judge concluded that she lacked authority to direct the appeals court to allow Chambers to submit a memorandum; Rule 60(b) only allowed her to remedy district court errors. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, noting that the remedy for appellate counsel’s error is a motion to recall the mandate, which the court had already rejected.