United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
JESSICA L. HUNT, Petitioner,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent. JORDIE L. CALLAHAN, Petitioner,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.
MEMORANDUM OF OPINION AND ORDER [RESOLVING ECF NOS.
Y. PEARSON JUDGE
the Court are Petitioners Jessica L. Hunt and Jordie L.
Callahan's Motions Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate,
Set Aside, or Correct Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody
(ECF Nos. 224 and 226). The Court has
been advised, having reviewed the record, the parties'
briefs, and the applicable law. For the reasons stated below, the
motions are denied.
16, 2013, a federal grand jury, in the Northern District of
Ohio, returned a five-count indictment charging Jessica L.
Hunt and Jordie L. Callahan (“Petitioners”) along
with another individual named Dezerah Silsby with:
conspiracy, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371 (Count 1);
holding the victims (“S.E.” and
“B.E.”) in a condition of forced labor and
involuntary servitude, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
1589(a) and (d) (Count 2); theft and embezzlement of
federally-funded benefits in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
641 (Count 3); acquiring possession of hydrocodone (Vicodin),
a Schedule III controlled substance by deception, in
violation of 21 U.S.C. § 843(a)(3) and (d)(1) (Count 4);
and witness tampering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
1589(a) and (d), and 18 U.S.C. § 1512(b)(1), (b)(3), and
(c)(2) (Count 5). Indictment (ECF No. 10).
November 19, 2013, the Court held a pretrial conference.
During this hearing, the Court discussed with Hunt the fact
that her attorneys, Carolyn M. Kucharski and Edward G. Bryan,
were under investigation for an unrelated matter. ECF No.
207 at PageID #: 6552-53. Hunt then expressed that she
was aware of this issue and wanted to proceed with her
current counsel. ECF No. 207 at PageID #: 6552-53.
Callahan was represented by attorney Donald Butler. ECF
No. 226 at PageID #: 7170.
November 2013 and the trial date, Petitioners' counsel
(“trial counsel”) filed numerous pretrial
motions, including: Joint Motion to Produce Juvenile
Witnesses (ECF No. 42); Motion to Prepare Official
Transcripts at Government's Expense by Callahan (ECF
No. 70); Motion to Revoke Hunt's Detention Order
(ECF No. 48); Motion to Compel Production of
Transcripts/Records by Hunt (ECF No. 49); Motion
In Limine to Preclude Testimony by Callahan (ECF
No. 68); Motion for Psychiatric Exam of S.E. by Callahan
(ECF No. 69). Hunt's counsel also filed
responses in opposition to the government's Motions
In Limine. ECF No. 80.
February 4, 2014, the Court held a final pretrial, where
Petitioners' counsel argued extensively for their
clients. ECF No. 209 at PageID #6603.
Petitioners' counsel did not ask the court for another
continuance, nor did they indicate that they needed
additional assistance in locating witnesses. ECF No. 209
at PageID #6603. Prior to the trial date,
Petitioners' counsel also filed detailed trial briefs
(ECF Nos. 92, 95) and proposed jury
instructions (ECF No. 93).
February 18, 2014, the twelve-day trial commenced. ECF
No. 188 at PageID #: 6387. During the trial, the jury
was presented with extensive evidence. “The government
called thirty-five witnesses and [the Court] admitted
hundreds of exhibits, including photographs, social media
records, medical records, audio and video recordings, police
reports, and financial records.” ECF No. 233 at
PageID #: 7214. On March 7, 2014, the jury convicted
Petitioners of: conspiracy (Count 1); forced labor (Count 2);
and acquiring a controlled substance by deception (Count 4).
ECF No. 130 at PageID #: 2361-65; ECF No. 131 at
PageID #: 2373-77. The jury also found, via special
verdict forms, that each forced labor violation included the
offense of kidnapping or attempted kidnapping under 18 U.S.C.
§ 1589(d). ECF No. 130 at PageID #: 2363; ECF No. 131 at
PageID #: 2375.
28, 2014, Petitioners' counsel filed a lengthy 80-page
joint motion for acquittal and a 27-page motion for a new
trial based on the sufficiency of the evidence. ECF Nos.
167, 168. The motions challenged the
sufficiency and weight of the evidence presented, the legal
instructions and verdict forms given to the jury, and the
Court's rulings denying a mental examination of S.E. and
limiting the cross-examination of a witness. ECF No. 188
at PageID #: 6396. The motion for acquittal directly
referred to a man named Glenn Stackhouse in reference to a
“broken window” story that was already presented
to the jury. ECF No. 167 at PageID #: 5983-84. The
motions were denied on July 21, 2014. ECF No. 188.
to sentencing, trial counsel also filed numerous sentencing
memoranda on behalf of Petitioners. See ECF Nos.
179, 180, 185. On July 22, 2014,
the Court conducted Callahan's sentencing hearing, during
which his counsel successfully argued that he should receive
a sentence below the guideline's range of life
imprisonment. ECF No. 190 at PageID #: 6427-29. The
Court then sentenced Callahan to concurrent terms of
imprisonment as to each count, with the longest term being
360 months for the forced labor violation. ECF No. 190 at
PageID #: 6427-29. On July 24, 2014, the Court conducted
Hunt's sentencing hearing, at which her counsel also
successfully argued that she should receive a sentence below
the guideline's range of life imprisonment. ECF No.
191 at PageID #: 6433-35. The Court sentenced Hunt to
concurrent terms of imprisonment for each count, the longest
of which was 384 months for her forced labor conviction.
ECF No. 191 at PageID #: 6433-35.
August 5, 2014, the Court entered final judgments against
Petitioners. ECF Nos. 190, 191. Petitioners
filed notices of appeal on the same day. ECF Nos.
192, 193. Petitioners retained their trial
counsel for the appeals. ECF Nos. 192, 193.
September 8, 2015, the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
affirmed the convictions and sentencing. United States v.
Callahan, 801 F.3d 606, 613 (6th Cir. 2015) (ECF No.
215). Petitioners moved for a rehearing en banc,
which was denied. Id.
February 15, 2016, Petitioners jointly filed a petition for a
writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court.
ECF No. 217. The writ was denied on March 25, 2016.
Hunt v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 1477 (2016).
the instant motions was filed on March 20, 2017 by Hunt with
the assistance of counsel, Vanessa Malone, from the Office of
the Federal Public Defender. ECF No. 224. Vanessa
Malone has since withdrawn as counsel in the instant case,
after the Court denied Hunt's motion to substitute
counsel. ECF Nos. 225, 236. Callahan's
pro se motion was filed on March 27, 2017. ECF
Sixth Circuit described the factual background of the instant
case as follows:
The evidence presented at trial told the story of two
vulnerable individuals - S.E., a developmentally-disabled
young woman, and her minor daughter, B.E. - held in subhuman
conditions and subjected to continual and prolonged abuse.
S.E. has a documented history of cognitive impairment, and
she and B.E. struggled to eke out an existence at the margins
of society. When S.E. turned eighteen, she was kicked out of
her mother's house. She did not have a relationship with
her biological father, and she had no family members willing
to take her in. S.E. moved frequently and was often homeless.
She relied on her social security benefits and other
government assistance to survive and care for her daughter.
S.E. became acquainted with Defendants through their mutual
association with a group of people in their small town who
abused narcotics and shoplifted together. On one occasion,
S.E. was arrested for shoplifting and spent several weeks
incarcerated. When she was released from jail in May 2010,
she agreed to move in with Defendants because she had no
other place to stay. Shortly thereafter, she regained custody
of B.E., who was then three years old.
Defendants lived in Apartment 2 of a building that contained
three units. Although S.E. and B.E. initially lived with
Defendants as traditional roommates, the relationship quickly
deteriorated. Defendants forced S.E. to clean the apartment,
do yardwork, care for their dogs, and run various errands for
them. Defendants also forced S.E. and B.E. to sleep in the
unfinished basement of the apartment, and later, in a
sparsely furnished upstairs bedroom. Both rooms locked from
the outside, and Defendants confined S.E. and B.E. to these
rooms at night. Because S.E. did not have access to the
lavatory when she was locked in these rooms, she was forced
to soil herself or relieve herself on the floor. In one
instance that S.E. soiled herself, Hunt forced her to smear
the feces on her face.
Defendants would let S.E. out of the locked room in the
morning, on the condition that she do their bidding. She was
forced to work from morning until night, and there was
witness testimony that S.E. was constantly cleaning the
apartment, often while Defendants sat and watched. On one
occasion, Defendants' drug dealer saw S.E. performing
maintenance work on the building, and Hunt told the drug
dealer that S.E. had better do the work “if she knows
what's good for her.” S.E. complied with
Defendants' demands because she believed they would
physically assault her, as they had done in the past.
Defendants also forced S.E. to care for their dogs. S.E. had
to feed the dogs and take them for walks individually. She
also had to clean up after the dogs when they urinated or
defecated in the house. There were numerous occasions when
Hunt grabbed S.E. by the hair and shoved her face in dog
urine and feces if she did not clean up the messes quickly
enough. Witnesses testified that S.E. seemed terrified and
that Callahan boasted that it was S.E.'s job to clean
everything and keep the house tidy. Defendants also allowed
the dogs to abuse S.E. and B.E.
It apparently was also S.E.'s job to run errands for
Defendants. They forced her to go to a nearby convenience
store and purchase cigarettes, candy, and soda for them. They
imposed strict time limits for these trips and warned S.E.
not to talk to anyone while she was out. If S.E. exceeded the
time limit or Defendants suspected that she had talked to
anyone, she was punished. On one occasion when S.E. exceeded
Defendants' time limit, Callahan interrogated S.E. while
forcing her to submit to “five finger fillet”-a
“game” wherein S.E. spread her fingers and laid
her hand on a table, and Callahan stabbed back and forth
between her fingers with a knife. On another occasion when
S.E. took too long to run an errand, Callahan threatened B.E.
at gunpoint. S.E. was also punished if she purchased items
that were not on Hunt's shopping list, with Hunt punching
S.E. in the face or otherwise striking S.E. in the head on
such occasions. All of these ways Defendants used to control
S.E. and B.E. had their intended affect-both victims were
When S.E. and B.E. were forced to live in the basement, they
slept on the concrete floor and only had the clothes they
were wearing and blankets covered in filth to keep warm. The
cold, rank basement environment was especially hard on B.E.,
whose face would turn ghostly white because of the cold; S.E.
would give B.E. her sweater to wear and hold B.E. close to
her chest to keep her warm. Defendants rarely allowed S.E.
and B.E. to shower or bathe. Witnesses reported that S.E.
often appeared unclean and sickly, emitted a foul odor,
seemed fearful, and had bruises on her body.
Defendants would let S.E. out of the basement in the
mornings, but forced B.E. to stay there while S.E. performed
the work they required of her. S.E. thought about running
away to her mother's house while on an errand, but
because Defendants kept B.E. locked in the basement while
S.E. was working, S.E. never acted on that desire. Defendants
also forbade S.E. from eating or feeding B.E. until she
returned to the basement at night after completing all
assigned tasks. S.E. and B.E. typically ate one meal a day,
and their diet generally consisted of unheated canned food,
bread, and unrefrigerated lunch meat. Defendants would leave
S.E. and B.E.'s food for the evening on the steps leading
into the basement, and Hunt beat S.E. when S.E. tried to take
food from the refrigerator.
B.E. was not immune from abuse-one of Hunt's sons tied
her up with rope and kept her bound all night because she
tried to drink a soda that was not intended for her.
Defendants also beat B.E. themselves. Although she was a
toddler, they struck her on numerous occasions for soiling
herself. Hunt's sons also assaulted B.E. on various
occasions, and Callahan once threw a snake on her.
Callahan also punished S.E. by putting a dog collar around
her neck, forcing her into the cage for the dogs, and
ordering her to eat dog food. One of Hunt's sons shot
S.E. multiple times with a BB gun for disobeying an order.
Daniel Brown, an indicted co-conspirator, also helped
Defendants assault and humiliate S.E. when they discovered
that S.E. planned to escape. Brown shaved S.E.'s head,
wrote degrading obscenities on her face, and slammed her head
into a kitchen sink. ...