United States District Court, D. Vermont
OPINION AND ORDER
William K. Sessions III District Court Judge
matter comes before the Court for review of Magistrate Judge
John M. Conroy's August 12, 2016 Report and
Recommendation (“R & R”), in which the
magistrate judge recommends denying Defendant Stephen
Aguiar's petition for a writ of habeas corpus, filed
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, and related motions. Mr.
Aguiar is arguing for relief on the basis of ineffective
assistance of counsel, and has filed an objection to the R
district judge must make a de novo determination of
those portions of a magistrate judge's report and
recommendation to which an objection is made. Fed.R.Civ.P.
72(b); 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Cullen v. United
States, 194 F.3d 401, 405 (2d Cir. 1999). The district
judge may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the
findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge. 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); accord Cullen, 194 F.3d at
405. A district judge, however, is not required to review the
factual or legal conclusions of the magistrate judge as to
those portions of a report and recommendation to which no
objections are addressed. Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S.
140, 150 (1985).
Court has reviewed Mr. Aguiar's objections, and ADOPTS
the Magistrate Judge's R & R in full.
Motion to Vacate (Doc. 717), Motion for Leave to Conduct
Discovery (Doc. 719), Motion to Expand the Record (Doc. 720),
Motion to Supplement the Record (Doc. 728), Motion to Strike
(Doc. 746), Motion for Order Directing Government or Counsel
to Provide Defendant with Discovery Material (Doc. 714),
Motion for Appointment of Counsel (Doc. 718), and Renewed
Motion for Appointment of Counsel (Doc. 735) are DENIED. In
addition, the Motion to Strike Agent Carter's testimony
(Doc. 757) is DENIED AS MOOT.
Court notes that under the standard set forth in
Strickland v. Washington, Mr. Aguiar must show not
only that counsel's performance was “outside the
wide range of professionally competent assistance, ”
but also that “there is a reasonable probability that,
but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of
the proceeding would have been different.” 466 U.S.
668, 690, 694 (1984). “As is obvious,
Strickland's standard, although by no means
insurmountable, is highly demanding.” Kimmelman v.
Morrison, 477 U.S. 365, 382, (1986). Mr. Aguiar's
petition fails to satisfy this demanding standard.
presided over the trial in this case, the Court recalls the
thorough and vigorous arguments advanced by Attorney David
Williams in his role as defense counsel. Multiple pre-trial
hearings were held and substantial briefing was submitted on
behalf of the defense. Attorney Williams continued his
zealous advocacy throughout the 11-day trial, and as Mr.
Aguiar's counsel on appeal.
the efforts of Attorney Williams, the evidence supporting Mr.
Aguiar's conviction was overwhelming. The trial included
testimony from multiple cooperating co-defendants, recorded
intercepts, verified controlled purchases, and hundreds of
pieces of evidence. In affirming the conviction and sentence,
the Second Circuit referenced “the volume of evidence
introduced at trial by the government” in finding that
an allegedly-unconstitutional search was harmless. United
States v. Aguiar, 737 F.3d 251, 263 (2d Cir. 2013). This
same observation pertains to Mr. Aguiar's current
arguments, as even considering the aggregate impact of any
alleged errors, the sheer volume of evidence negated any
resulting prejudice. See Strickland, 466 U.S. at 696
(“a verdict or conclusion only weakly supported by the
record is more likely to have been affected by errors than
one with overwhelming record support”).
Attorney Williams's performance throughout his
representation of Mr. Aguiar was well within the bounds of
professional competence, and his affidavit submitted in
support of the government's opposition to the Section
2255 petition explains his rationale for pursuing some
efforts and abandoning others. The magistrate judge did not
err in relying on that affidavit, see 28 U.S.C.
§ 1746 (stating that oath must comply
“substantially” with the statements set forth in
the statute), and the Court ADOPTS the R & R on all
to Fed. R. App. P. 22(b), a certificate of appealability is
DENIED because the petitioner has failed to make a
substantial showing of denial of a federal right.
Furthermore, the petitioner's grounds for relief do not
present issues which are debatable among jurists of reasons,
which could have been resolved differently, or which deserve
further proceedings. See e.g., Flieger v. Delo, 16
F.3rd 878, 882-83 (8th Cir.) cert. denied, 513 U.S.
946 (1994); Sawyer v. Collins, 986 F.2d 1493, 1497
(5th cir.), cert. denied, 508 U.S. 933 (1993).
it is certified that any appeal taken in forma
pauperis would not be taken in good faith, ...