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United States v. Slater

August 14, 2007

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF/RESPONDENT,
v.
RONALD TYRONE SLATER, DEFENDANT/PETITIONER.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Napoleon A. Jones, Jr. United States District Judge

ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS

Before the Court is Petitioner Ronald Tyrone Slater's ("Petitioner") Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus ("Petition"), filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. [Doc. No. 1.] "A prisoner in custody under sentence of a court . . . claiming . . . that the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, or that the court was without jurisdiction to impose such sentence, or that the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law, . . . may move the court which imposed the sentence to vacate, set aside or correct the sentence." 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (2005). For the reasons set forth below, the Court DENIES Petitioner's Petition with prejudice.

Background

On June 15, 2005, Petitioner drove a car concealing approximately 6.43 kilograms of methamphetamine from Mexico to the United States through the Calexico West California Port of Entry. (Plea Agreement at 2.)

On September 16, 2005, a federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment against Petitioner. [Doc. No. 1.] Count one charged Petitioner with importation of methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 952 and 960. [Id.] Count two charged Petitioner with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). [Id.] On January 13, 2006, Petitioner pled guilty to count one of the indictment. [Doc. No. 18.] On May 15, 2006, this Court sentenced Petitioner to 130 months in custody and five years of supervised release. [Doc. No. 21.]

On May 8, 2007, Petitioner filed a 28 U.S.C. § 2255 motion claiming that the Court's imposition of supervised release constituted double jeopardy and violated his constitutional rights. (See Pet. at 1.) Petitioner also claimed that he received ineffective assistance of counsel because his attorney's improper application of the law resulted in a longer sentence. (See id. at 13.)

Discussion

After reviewing the Petition and the Government's opposition, the Court DENIES the Petition because: (1) Petitioner waived his right to collateral attack; (2) Petitioner has failed to demonstrate that his term of supervised release was unconstitutional; and (3) Petitioner was not denied his right to counsel.

I. Waiver of Right to Collaterally Attack Sentence

The Government contends that Petitioner waived his right to collaterally attack his sentence when he entered into the Plea Agreement. (Gov't Resp. at 3.) In support of this argument, the Government provides evidence that Petitioner knowingly and voluntarily executed the Plea Agreement. (Id. at 4.) Petitioner does not address the Government's argument that he voluntarily entered into the Plea Agreement. Rather, he argues that the waiver of his right to collateral attack is unenforceable because he "receive[d] a sentence greater than the high end of the guideline range." (Traverse at 2.)

Petitioner's waiver of his right to collateral attack is enforceable if: (1) he knowingly and voluntarily entered into the plea agreement; (2) the plea agreement encompassed his right to collateral attack; and (3) the conditions of the plea agreement have been met. See United States v. Baramdyka, 95 F.3d 840, 843 (9th Cir. 1996).

A. Petitioner Knowingly and Voluntarily Entered Into the Plea Agreement

The Government contends that the Plea Agreement was made knowingly and voluntarily. A court determines whether a petitioner knowingly and voluntarily entered into a plea agreement by "look[ing] to the circumstances surrounding the signing and entry of the plea agreement." Baramdyka, 95 F.3d at 843.

Here, the circumstances surrounding the signing and entry of the Plea Agreement indicate that Petitioner's waiver was knowing and voluntary. The Court asked Petitioner a series of questions to determine whether Petitioner understood the terms of the Plea Agreement:

THE COURT: Are you doing this freely and voluntarily?

THE DEFENDANT: Yes, Sir, Your Honor. I am accepting full responsibilities for my actions.

THE COURT: Do you believe you have had enough time to discuss your ...


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