United States v. Simpson, No. 16-3286 (7th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
Simpson, convicted of possession with intent to distribute heroin, 21 U.S.C. 841(a)(1); 841(b)(1), moved for a new trial, alleging that his counsel was ineffective by: failure to interview and call witnesses with potentially exculpatory evidence (Simpson’s mother, Donna, and Lintzenich and Hoffstot, who previously had accompanied Burdell and Simpson on drug buying trips); failure to effectively cross-examine government witnesses; inaccurate assessment of the government’s case, including advising Simpson to reject a plea bargain; and failure to prepare Simpson to testify. Simpson attached an affidavit asserting that he had told counsel that he wanted the women to testify and notarized letters: Donna stated that Burdell told her at the time of Simpson’s arrest that Simpson was “tak[ing] the rap for [Burdell].” Lintzenich heard Burdell and another say that Simpson took the rap, never saw Simpson sell heroin or buy drugs, and stated he “purchased [h]eroin for personal use only.” Hoffstot stated that he had witnessed “Burdell buying the [h]eroin” on other trips and that Simpson did not “deal” heroin. The district court declined to conduct an evidentiary hearing and denied the motion, finding “no reasonable possibility” that the proposed testimony would have changed the outcome. The Seventh Circuit vacated and remanded. Simpson alleged sufficient facts to support an ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claim.