United States v. Browne

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, v. SHANE BROWNE, Case No. 1:17-cr-241 (TNM) Defendant. MEMORANDUM ORDER A jury convicted Shane Browne of kidnapping and possession with intent to distribute marijuana. Browne moved for a new trial and judgment of acquittal, which this Court denied. The D.C. Circuit affirmed, but it remanded for development of a factual record on Browne’s ineffective-assistance claims. The Court held an evidentiary hearing, receiving testimony from Browne, his trial attorneys, and several other witnesses. Considering the now-developed record, the parties’ briefing, and their arguments at the hearing, the Court denies Browne’s motion for a new trial. I. BACKGROUND Police arrested Browne in December 2017 for armed kidnapping. A Lyft driver named Ulises Flores reported that Browne requested a ride from Washington, D.C., to Aberdeen, Maryland, and then forced Flores at gunpoint to make the return trip. When police eventually searched Browne’s apartment, they discovered 78 pounds of marijuana and $36,000 in cash, but no firearms. A grand jury returned a superseding indictment charging Browne with seven counts: Kidnapping in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1201(a)(1) (Count One); Possessing a Firearm During a Crime of Violence in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1) (Count Two); Unlawful Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(D) (Count Three); Kidnapping while Armed in violation of D.C. Code §§ 22-2001, 4502 (Count Four); two counts of Possession of a Firearm During a Crime of Violence in violation of D.C. Code § 22-4504(b) (Counts Five and Seven); and Assault with a Dangerous Weapon in violation of D.C. Code § 22-402 (Count Six). A jury convicted Browne on Counts One and Three. He then moved for a new trial and judgment of acquittal, see Mot. for New Trial or Acquittal, ECF Nos. 63 & 64, which this Court denied, see Mem. Order, ECF No. 76. Browne appealed. See United States v. Browne, 953 F.3d 794 (D.C. Cir. 2020). On appeal, the D.C. Circuit found he made “colorable” ineffective- assistance-of-counsel claims and remanded to this Court for development of a factual record. Id. at 804. The motion is now ripe for resolution. II. LEGAL STANDARDS AND CREDIBILITY FINDINGS The Sixth Amendment guarantees a right to counsel in criminal proceedings. See Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963). That promise goes unfulfilled where defense counsel’s “conduct so undermined the proper functioning of the adversarial process that the trial cannot be relied on as having produced a just result.” Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 686 (1984). To succeed on a Strickland claim a defendant must make a two-part showing. First, he must show that his “counsel’s representation fell below an objective standard of reasonableness.” Id. at 688. Second, he must show those errors prejudiced his defense—that “there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel’s unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different.” Id. at 694. Reviewing courts generally “indulge a strong presumption that counsel’s conduct falls within the …

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