United States District Court, N.D. Ohio
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 NO.
224], [RESOLVING ECF NO. 226]
Y. PEARSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT 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
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.
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,
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 No. 226.
Sixth Circuit described the factual background of the instant
case as follows:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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