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United States v. Brosnan

United States District Court, N.D. California

January 26, 2015

JOHN BROSNAN, Defendant.


WILLIAM ALSUP, District Judge.


Defendant moves pro se to vacate, set aside, or correct his conviction, judgment, and sentence under 28 U.S.C. 2255. For the reasons stated below, defendant's motion is DENIED.


This criminal action arose after a protracted series of civil lawsuits between defendant John Brosnan and another individual, Jon Oberle, that began in the bankruptcy court. After the undersigned judge affirmed the bankruptcy court's decision, awarding fees in favor of Oberle, Brosnan brought a separate civil action, Brosnan v. Oberle, et al., No. 07-04337 WHA (N.D. Cal. 2007), suing for damages and fees related to the recently-affirmed bankruptcy action. Therein, Brosnan sued Oberle and Attorneys Joshua Brysk and James Schwartz, who had represented Oberle in the earlier bankruptcy proceeding. Finding that this action was duplicative of the previous appeal from the bankruptcy court, the undersigned judge eventually dismissed the action.

The instant criminal matter arose out of conduct in the 2007 civil action, before its termination. Specifically, on May 1, 2008, neither party appeared at a routine case management conference. Brosnan then sent a letter to the Court, stating that he had not appeared because he had received a letter from Oberle's attorney, Brysk, informing him that the case management conference had been continued and that he need not appear. Upon inquiry from the Court, Attorney Brysk denied writing any such letter. A hearing occurred to get to the bottom of it. Oberle there insisted the alleged attorney letter had been a forgery created by Brosnan, who countered that it had been a forgery by Oberle. After conducting an evidentiary hearing in which both Brosnan and Oberle testified under oath, the undersigned judge referred both accusations of forgery to the United States Attorney's Office ( Oberle Dkt. Nos. 16, 19, 28).

After an investigation by the FBI, the government charged Brosnan with wire fraud, obstruction of justice, perjury, and aggravated identification theft in connection with the submission of the fabricated Brysk letter. A jury convicted Brosnan in December 2010. Brosnan received 40 months imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release (Dkt. No. 181).

In March 2011, Brosnan filed a motion for a new trial based on newly discovered evidence ( United States v. Brosnan, No. 10-00068 WHA, Dkt. No. 143). Shortly thereafter, defense counsel filed a notice of potential conflict of interest. The undersigned judge then appointed new counsel, Attorney Frank Bell. Attorney Bell investigated the claim and withdrew the motion, acknowledging that the evidence was, "at best, neutral." Defendant then appealed his conviction to our court of appeals, which affirmed. The United States Supreme Court denied his petition for a writ of certiorari (Dkt. Nos. 158, 220, 223, 228, 230, 249).

Now on supervised release, Brosnan moves for collateral relief under Section 2255.


A federal prisoner making a collateral attack against the validity of his or her conviction or sentence must do so by filing a motion to vacate, set aside or correct the sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2255, filed in the court which imposed sentence. Tripati v. Henman, 843 F.2d 1160, 1162 (9th Cir. 1988). Under Section 2255, the federal sentencing court may grant relief if it concludes that a prisoner in custody was sentenced in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States. United States v. Barron, 172 F.3d 1153, 1157 (9th Cir. 1999). To warrant relief, defendant must demonstrate the existence of an error of constitutional magnitude which had a substantial and injurious influence on the guilty plea or the jury's verdict. Brecht v. Abrahamson, 507 U.S. 619, 637 (1993).

Defendant's habeas petition raises 34 separate claims for relief. Claims 3, 9, 30, and 32 cannot be addressed because they are incomprehensible. Claim 3 begins mid-sentence, there is no claim 9, and claim 30 ends mid-sentence. Claim 32 is titled "material omissions, " but does not identify any omissions.

While there is some overlap, defendant's remaining claims can be separated into three categories: (1) ineffective assistance of counsel claims (2, 5-8, 10-12, 14, 29, 33-34); (2) Brady claims (16-23, ...

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